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All those who are avid viewers of Game of Thrones (and many non-viewers too), are aware that a petition is doing the rounds for the last season to be re-done. Some fans are not happy with the way events have progressed and they want fresh blood to take over the re-making of the last season.

While I enjoy watching television as much as the next couch potato, there have generally been two guiding rules for me in my choice of serial-watching: Stick to a series where each episode tells a complete story or at least avoid those that run into more than one season.

This seems to work out well for a forgetful viewer like me as I do not have to remember storylines and plots or relationships and their complications. I can just click on the remote control, switch off my head, and let a fresh story unfold on the screen — and then disassociate myself from the television set for weeks on end with no yearning to find out what happens next.

When we met at parties, it was common for the topic of conversation to be the events that had taken place in the latest episode of the soap... There would be an animated debate about a story that had no relevance to our way of life in that desert cantonment

- Cheryl Rao

This preference for one-time stories came as a reaction to our long-ago experiences when satellite TV first arrived in the tiny cantonments in remote corners of the country where we lived.

Friends got hooked to serials like The Bold and the Beautiful and Santa Barbara and since there was no live streaming to get the latest episode as it aired and no catching up on what happened via the internet, the hour during which those serials were broadcast was almost sacrosanct. If we dared drop in at someone’s home at that crucial time, we had to suffer through the half-hour or hour of the episode, trying our best to recognise who was who and what was happening at that point in time.

When we met at parties (post serial time, of course), it was common for the topic of conversation to be the events that had taken place in the latest episode of the soap. Some would pass judgement on the behaviour of the characters, some would defend it, and in general there would be an animated debate about a story that had no relevance to our way of life in that desert cantonment, where we struggled with power cuts, water shortages, strange creatures that found their way into our homes along with the desert sand, the seasonal disappearance of many vegetables and fruits we would like on our tables, our children’s school work, the limited avenues for our own aspirations, etc.

There were absolutely no elements of the high life that we could relate to — but somehow, many did.

Perhaps they lost themselves in those on-screen shenanigans. Perhaps “living” the stories on television helped viewers get through the long winter months when our soldier husbands were away on “exercise” and we heard nothing from them until they suddenly reappeared without having given us any warning time to spruce up ourselves and our homes for them.

But the deciding factor that made me determined to avoid the endless ups and downs of television serials and the vicarious pleasure of screen stories was when we met up with friends and instead of exchanging tales of how our husbands had pleasantly surprised us by landing up unexpectedly or how we had been caught unawares and had no dinner ready and none of the ingredients for a quick meal available on hand, they ignored what was happening in our lives and declared triumphantly, “Cruz is back!” — referring to a central character from Santa Barbara!

Maybe, with all those small screen options available to us today, we need to sometimes step back for a reality check; perhaps pinch ourselves to make sure we’re living our own lives and not those of our favourite characters on television!

— Cheryl Rao is a journalist based in India.