I just binged watched The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell and I have a theory as to why it

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell is a delectable morsel of antique manic pixie dream girl meets effortless goth goddess seasoned with delicate confections like gingerbread haunted mansions and candy spiders that seem too good to be true — and I think the too good to be true is the show's downfall. Let me explain: fresh off completing my Digital Wellness Institute Certification I am seeing everything I encounter through the lens of a tech-ethicist, tech-philosopher, tech-educator. Digital wellness is optimized technology use. My interest in tech-life balance is two-fold. Personally, I struggled, and struggle, with technology addiction. Professionally, as a feng shui consultant with Nested Feng Shui, I saw how digital spaces impeded positive progress in my clients’ homes and that when I incorporated tech-placement for balance + digital space organization (i.e. clearing clutter from home screens, desktops, and email inboxes — in a practice I call “digital laundry”) they began to feel more at ease. As technology is not going anywhere, learning how to live in harmony with both our digital and physical spaces is necessary if we want to succeed.

So, how does digital wellness equate to a TV show being canceled on Netflix before its time? After blissfully binging the entire first season on Netflix just now, all six episodes in rapid succession, I have an educated guess as to why it was not picked back up. Success requires engagement, and Netflix does not build engagement. Thus the Curious Confections of Christine McConnell, in my option, died— not by hatchet or arson — but by the “bottomless bowl.” “The Bottomless Bowl is a term coined by tech-ethicist Tristan Harris that describes a design feature of technology that eliminates stopping cues for people so they consume more content than they naturally would” (Digital Wellness Institute). I believe, that if McConnell’s show had aired a decade earlier — in that sweet spot just before DVR — the Curious Confections of Christine McConnell would have taken off and carried on for seasons, developing a larger cult following than it already has. Think Barefoot Contessa meets late 90’s cool coven of mall goths who said, “you laugh because I’m different. I laugh because you’re all the same.” Pre-smartphone there was a market for calming cooking shows with stunning slow pans and elaborate spreads, as well as, dark, tongue-in-cheek alternative aesthetics. Most importantly, TVs in the early 2000s had built-in cues to stop consuming after an episode.

Flash forward to 2020, with the 15-second autoplay and tv shows are operating in new territory. Now we are tasked with overcoming built-in “triggers, internal or external causes that make us engage in a particular action” (Digital Wellness Institute). Autoplay is an example of a trigger that leads to more TV consumption. You are not alone if you find it nearly impossible to overcome, it is built that way on purpose. Attention spans are shortening. It reminds me of audiences switching from three-hour operas to an hour and a half plays with no intermission. Now, with TikTok, the average piece of content is 15 seconds long. Christine’s show was made for a bygone era of television viewing — more like the black and white golden girls episodes that she plays on her vintage TV set while embroidering — a time before digital addiction. “Digital Addiction is a form of problematic behavior that shows symptoms of behavioral addiction, such as dependency and continuous use, despite knowing about the negative effects the technology produces in one’s life.” (Digital Wellness Institute). Technology companies are capitalizing on getting their “users” “hooked” on their social media platform, app, and interface. “In 2017, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said at an industry summit that his company’s real competitor is . . . sleep. ‘You get a show or a movie you’re really dying to watch, and you end up staying up late at night, so we actually compete with sleep,’ Hastings said (Vanity Fair; Bradley, 2019). We live in an attention economy, where the biggest commodity corporations are competing for is where we place our eyeballs (thank you for reading this). Even with the exceptional Dita Von Tease making ghostly appearances, even with the Henson Alternative building mind-blowing puppets for the show, even with an incredible set, cast, creative team, and unimaginable amounts of royal icing gluing it all together the problem is that the Curious Confections of Christine McConnell can be consumed in six twenty-minute episodes (presumably back-to-back with Netflix’s autoplay) and only holds viewers attention for about two hours. Sadly, the hours of work, the mind-bending detail, and the exceptional work put into making this midnight-tinted treasure of a show are lost on a Netflix binge. I came to Christine McConnell through YouTube, and I think her content thrives there. YouTube users are used to engaging and disengaging with creators on YouTube because the platform does not facilitate the single-show- bottomless-bowl consumption like Netflix, to an extent. I hope Netflix sees the error of their ways and invests in Christine and her curious creations again. This time, taking time to release new episodes over long periods of time, with more trailers and teasers so that viewers can engage with the material at the pace that matches a show about creative homemaking and embracing the unknown. That is my wish, for the show to come back as it ought to be approached, over time, unfolding with the literal seasons (like TV shows used to). One last note, living artists deserve to get paid, because as a deceased artist Pablo Picasso once said,Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth,” and in 2020 we need the truth that comes from the Curious Confections of Christine McConnell. A show serving good clean escapism in pastels, lace, and puppets while subtly teaching us to slow down, pay attention to the details, embrace our weird, and get creative with the day to day chores of living, cooking, and most importantly sharing a house — with creatures, pets, or even ourselves. In short, The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell died a premature death, like its villain Evie, at the hands of the actual villain Netflix: and the technology features built into tech to keep us hooked like autoplay, bottomless-bowl scrolls, and most importantly an audience wildly unaware of how digital addiction and the attention economy affects the creation of art we love.


Christine McConnell is active on Patreon. I try to practice what I preach so I joined her there to support a living artist I admire and stay abreast of all her new antique-chic-spooky explorations.


Pablo Picasso (while problematic and not a fav) also said, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”

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