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GUILTY PLEASURES -We all have one (it's actually good for us)

No matter how bright or serious or pragmatic any one of us is, we all have our guilty pleasures. Am I right? In one of my last video conferences at my workplace, we were asked, as an 'icebreaker' (I do not miss that work lingo), to share what we did over the Christmas break. One director (far, far above my status and pay scale) said she spent the holiday break binge-watching Hallmark Christmas romance movies. It seemed completely discrepant with her position - but proof perfect of my theory that we all have our little secrets.


Merriam Webster describes ‘guilty pleasure’ as “something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt”. I think a better definition would be: “something someone tells you they do in their spare time, to which you respond, ‘I cannot believe YOU would do that!’"


I’ll go first. In the early days of the COVID pandemic when we were really shut down – virtually everything except essential services were closed, and we were all left with too much time on our hands – my hands drifted to CBC On Demand where I was introduced to the drama series ‘Hudson and Rex.’ Mindlessly, I clicked on the first episode . . . and the second . . .



Hudson and Rex is about a very good looking detective and a very smart dog – oh, sorry, that should read a very good looking dog and a very smart detective. They fight heinous crimes (usually homicides) on a weekly basis, and Rex (the dog, in case you hadn't figured) always comes through for the win, despite questionable legal tactics and a predictable story line. He sure has an uncanny ability to sniff out culprits! All completely improbable. All perfect makings for a guilty pleasure.



More seriously, Hudson and Rex is a Canadian production set in one of my favourite cities, St. John’s, Newfoundland. In addition to Police Service Dog Rex (who is an extremely well-trained canine) and Detective Charlie Hudson, there are three other main characters - Superintendent Joseph Donovan, Chief of Forensics Dr. Sarah Truong, and IT specialist Jesse Mills – who all work for the fictional St. John’s Police Department. (The police department office is actually set in a building on the grounds of the Memorial University in St. John’s. Of course, I had to drag the family along to take a look when we visited in October.)



The show relies on Canadian talent (vocm.com - Hudson and Rex Focuses on "Local . . . "). One dynamic that makes it popular is the relationships amongst the cast members. Charlie and Sarah clearly are into each other and are smouldering together, but both are scared to make the first move Charlie obviously has attachment issues (side note to the producers – do NOT let them get together because we all want them to, but that would take away the mystery of romance). Jesse is the prototypical IT geek who sometimes makes poor social decisions, and Joe Donovan watches over them all. And then there is the incredible awesomeness of the scenery of Newfoundland – perfect for ‘drive-bys’ and car chases and sweeping landscape shots. And, despite being a police drama, there is very little blood and gore. Perfect for families and for people, like me, who do not watch violence (or police dramas). Take a look:


The show is now in it’s fourth season. According to Variety.com, it has been sold to television outlets in Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, and Europe. It has some seven million viewers in Europe, maybe because, as Variety.com says, it is an adaptation of a European show Rex, A Cop‘s Best Friend. The show is getting better as the seasons progress and as the characters develop.


But if you are feeling just a little bit, well, guilty about your guilty pleasure, do not despair. The Optimist Daily (optimistdaily.com), in an article entitled ‘Indulge your guilty pleasures . . . it’s good for you!’ reminds us that our guilty pleasure actually might be good for us and our wellbeing. Nice! The article cites Psychologist Aniko Dunn of EZCare Clinic who is of the view that we do not need to spend all our leisure time productively and that people have “increased positive emotions and reduced negative ones after indulging in the pleasures of guilt”. The article further cites a literature review in the Frontiers of Psychology that indicates that engaging in a rather mindless activity can improve our well-being and reduce stress. Further, it cites PLoS One which identifies that allowing ourselves some enjoyment can help us cope with anxiety and depression. (We are reminded, of course, that the guilty pleasure has to be “harmless” and not carried to the extreme – otherwise we have BIG problems!) About watching Hudson and Rex, even if you are sitting there saying, "I cannot believe YOU would do that!", this is my excuse – it’s all about my mental health. A one-hour per week counselling session.



So, if you are looking for a guilty pleasure or have missed one episode, or 57 episodes ( I know, I’ve watched them all) of Hudson and Rex, just flick to CBC on Demand, CityTV, and start binge-watching. Or tune to CityTV on Thursdays to watch the newest episode. Because that’s one good looking dog.


There, I’ve bared my soul – now, be honest, what’s your guilty pleasure?

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