Lynne Parker

Lynne Parker

Valentine Viewing

Lockdown has put us all to the test in ways we’d never considered possible. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, have you considered how being locked down with your loved one 24/7 has impacted on your relationship?

Whilst the close and unrelenting proximity of your nearest and dearest might be enticing, especially for those new to coupledom, what happens when the novelty has long faded and the highlight of your day is a discussion (argument) about what television programme to watch?   

A friend texted me to say that lockdown has changed the television viewing habits of her and her husband and ‘confessed’ that they had ‘stooped so low’ as to be addicted to Married at First Sight: Australia. This happens to be on my personal ‘guilty pleasure’ viewing list – after 32 years of marriage watching improbable nascent relationships is compelling and the ‘car crash’ element reminds me not to nag ‘him indoors’ (or rather ‘him upstairs’ based on our current lockdown conditions) about how he loads the dishwasher.

Perhaps the popularity of Married at First Sight: Australia reminds us all at this time that every nuance of what it right or wrong about our live in loved ones is amplified by being continuously under one roof. It’s no wonder that some relationships are pushed to the brink during lockdown and some very sadly to extremes.

My subsequent examination of couples’ viewing habits is intriguing. My better half favours a travel documentary or anything about solving a fictitious crime. We both enjoy Murder in Paradise for a bit of light-hearted murder mystery and the exotic Caribbean backdrop. We envy the actors who got a free holiday out of being cast! We also love the ridiculous French farce of Call My Agent, especially as we both work in different arms of the entertainment industry. 

The explosion of heaving bosoms and buttocks in Bridgerton are not for the faint-hearted – as Graham Norton said to the preposterously handsome Rege-Jean Page (Lord Hastings) when he was a guest on his programme, it all feels rather gentile until episode four and then there’s no hiding place, not even a cushion will hide your blushes. Thank goodness my kids have moved out – it’s the kind of thing you don’t want to watch with them in the room. This is the sort of sexual escapism best served cold without judgement and risk of embarrassment.

Give me a gentle romcom any day.  As we sit in our onesies, eating and drinking our way to oblivion, we can feel more comfortable in our lockdown skins. We don’t need to earn our Valentine’s Day treats the hard way. Escapism and romance come in many different forms and doesn’t always have to be shared.

While many of us are Zooming away our working days perhaps we could use our precious downtime more productively to explore new podcasts or re-read treasured books. How about rekindling the repressed passion of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy in a handheld print version of Pride and Prejudice?

Whatever your preference, there really is something for everybody. Tuning in to what makes us happy individually gives us something to talk about with our partners and family at the breakfast table and on the (almost) daily walk.  I have taken to solitary late-night television catching up on Schitt’s Creek or The Crown while he listens to Dead to Me or The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry on headphones.  Either way, we both fall asleep – seems the magic of Bridgerton hasn’t rubbed off on us yet!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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