After the end of World War II, there were a few Japanese soldiers found on remote islands unaware it had ended years before. It’s an approach many poor souls seem to take with their favorite television shows.
When you find a new television show to dive into, it’s a beautiful thing. You’re both young and naïve, excited to see each other at the end of the day in a world filled with possibility. It sees you through promotions and moves and you both face challenges together, except theirs are resolved in 30 minutes to an hour.
Then something changes. A character acts in a way they wouldn’t normally do, a new annoying one gets introduced, and a plot twist seems forced and trite. As these indiscretions keep happening, you realize the show is not the one you once loved.
“Is it me?” you ask.
But more episodes keep coming out, and you keep watching, maintaining the unhealthy relationship like Sid and Nancy.
Baby, I Can Change
At this point, many have trouble saying goodbye when they know they should. They endeavor to masochistically go down with the ship and stay with the show for as long as it’s on the air under some misguided sense of principle, both hoping that it might one day return to form, and fearing that to stop watching would be to sell out.
Decades in, the characters are mere shells of themselves, the plot is a betrayal of everything the show used to represent, and they even changed the opening theme song. You never change the opening theme song.
If you’re reading this and shaking violently because you know you’re about to watch another episode of a show that hasn’t been good since the Clinton administration, I beg of you to stop. Don’t do this to yourself. It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault.
Maybe the show jumped the shark like the phrase “jump the shark” did, or maybe you’re just a different person now that it’s been on for 25 years and can no longer relate. Whatever the case, you don’t have to obsessively keep on top of new episodes. Free yourself.
Scroll a Little
Which TV show is it? The Simpsons? SNL? Law & Order: SVU? Days of Our Lives? NCIS? Confess! Do you watch with the curtains drawn so no one knows you’re living like the old guy who shows up to prom?
It doesn’t have to be this way. When we watch a show for a big portion of our lives, it becomes melded to our identity, one of the cultural lenses through which we relate and understand the world. But we all know that people change, and television shows can too. Half of marriages end, and no kids are going to be spared by you and the show remaining together. Ok, I’ve milked this relationship metaphor to death.
There are other shows out there, even ones that may have been inspired by the TV show you grew up with and are keeping its early spirit alive better than the original can anymore. Try one of them out, scroll a little.
Because at some point it’s best to stop punishing yourself. We all know it can be depressing that nothing is permanent and stays good and innocent. But a thing is not beautiful because it lasts, if I may quote Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
You need to lay that show on a wooden barge, set it on fire, and push it out onto the sea. Then back away slowly as the theme music fades in the distance.
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