My evolving relationship with Television and why I will never leave it
For me, Television has always been more than a box with lights and sounds coming out of it. I’m sure that that’s true for a lot of people; however I feel that I have always had a deeper admiration for television than others. Well…it’s not so much the actual TV that makes me weak in the knees but more like what’s on its screen and the stories it brings into my life every day. Television has given me some of the best relationships I’ve ever had in my life. From my deep infatuation with the imaginary dinosaur that was Barney when I was five, to my love for Peter Parker in Spider-Man: The Animated Series as a kid and all the way to my more recent evolving and intense, psychotic, love-hate relationship that I had with Lost and all its characters for six, almost seven years of my life.
I’d like to take some time to discuss the past, present and future of Television and how it has dramatically changed throughout the years. I’d also like to discuss how this has affected me personally and why Television still has a hold on me. In fact, I’d like to divide this post into different segments; one which will focus on my past relationships and current relationships with TV and one that will focus on what I believe TV might have in store for us in the future. So let’s dive right in.
The beginning of something very good…
Every year, I patiently await as the new fall lineup for the current year is announced. I hope and pray that all the shows I have known to grow and love will make the cut, but I eagerly anticipate new ones as well. We will get to that a bit later but first let me explain my relationships with Television shows throughout the years and why I have always been obsessed with TV.
Many of you who know me or have read my blog before have come to accept that I am ridiculously obsessed with Lost. I am, in fact, so obsessed with this concluded TV show that I have been banned from talking about it in public. Let me explain. I basically had to ban myself from talking about it in public with friends because of many long and excruciating nights that I spent explaining it to people I knew had never seen one episode and didn’t understand the basic ideas that revolved around it. In the end after every discussion, I came out looking like a crazy person obsessed over an ex-boyfriend who had dumped them after six insane, emotional and tormenting years. I had to move on but it hasn’t been easy.
I have never gotten over the grip that ABC’s Lost had on me and I honestly don’t think that there will ever be a show as captivating as that show was for me. I was nearly catatonic for months and all I could do was mumble ‘uh huhms” to people that would ask me about it following the show’s dramatic conclusion, “The End”. Even now, over a year later, I find myself quoting and referencing Lost to anyone who will hear me, even though no one other than myself and perhaps my closest friends get me. It’s like coming out of long-term relationship with someone you really cared for where only the two of you shared inside jokes and saw each other in ways others could never understand. But as soon as that relationship ends, you’re left alone, with deep emotional wounds and half of your soul left intact. It’s hard to get over someone you spent so much time with.
And that’s how I feel about great TV shows. You build this relationship with them and their characters and over the years that relationship grows and if it’s a great show, it gets better and better.
The plot thickens…
But like many relationships, sometimes the first year is the best and then everything afterwards just sucks. Like a husband who does everything you want when he’s courting you for that first year, then BAM! you’re married and now he doesn’t even have to try. That’s what some TV shows and characters do to you. They’re only good in the beginning to get you involved and then you’re committed and the only reason you keep watching it is because you want to see how it turns out because you’ve invested so much time in getting into it. Because you’re not a quitter!
To be honest, I don’t think I have ever quit on any show that I became committed to over the years. I have always been the dumpee. Throughout the years, TV shows and characters have stomped all over me and ripped my heart out, and yet like a little naïve girl with no self-esteem, I have always come back begging for more. My first real relationship with a TV show had to be when I was five years old watching Sesame Street and Barney. I was there morning after morning, eagerly anticipating the next letter in the alphabet or the next endearing song of morality. In the case of Barney, I was there when the first of his kids grew and moved away. I kept watching but only half-heartedly. I was betrayed by the change of characters. I had spent so much time getting involved with these kids and then they were too old to be on the show. Eventually, I grew up as well but if I had been five forever, I’d still be watching it.
My next greatest love was Spider-Man. As a kid, I understood that lovable characters are what really made a story great. And Peter Parker, in my eyes, was no different. He made me laugh, he made me mad and I cringed when bad things happened to him or the characters that surrounded him. I also learned that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” I’m sorry I had to. I watched Spider-Man until it concluded in 1998 when he and Madame Web walked off screen talking about how they would eventually find the real Mary Jane. I was frustrated but I needed to find something else.
I’ll admit that I haven’t always been the most faithful when it comes to my relationships with TV shows and the characters in them. In fact, while I was busy loving Peter Parker, I was also heavily involved with another TV hunk by the name of Fox Mulder and a little TV show called The X-Files. Every Sunday night (and ultimately Friday nights) I eagerly anticipated the next episode in what has become one of the biggest cult classics in the history of TV. I was enamored by the monster episodes but I mostly awaited the next big plot twist in the main alien story-arc. The X-Files became my religion for close to 9 years of my life and I have seen every episode countless times. The plot kept me on my toes and severely committed. I have to say, that even during the slow episodes or the episodes that didn’t progress the main story-arc, I stayed true and never stopped watching. Even to this day, I go back to it when I want to laugh at one of my favorite episodes of all time (Bad Blood, season 5 ep. 12) or when I need a good cry.
But The X-Files wasn’t the last show that kept me on the edge of my seat week after week. During my awkwardly concluding relationship with The X-Files in seasons 8 and 9, I began a short-lived attachment to Max Guevara in Dark Angel. She became my hero and there were days I wanted to be her. Sure, the acting wasn’t all that great (I mean it was Jessica Alba, come on) and the story didn’t always make sense, but she was a genetically enhanced super babe and she kicked ass. And she was Latina. I could relate to her as a character and I loved to watch her but our relationship ended abruptly when FOX decided that there wouldn’t be a season three after Dark Angel failed to pull in the ratings. And sometimes that happens in relationships too. Without warning, a third party comes in and takes it all away from you. That’s life.
After The X-Files and Dark Angel, I struggled to find something else to really cling to. I wanted to find a rebound. I wanted to move on and be slutty and like all kinds of shows but there weren’t any good ones out there and I wasn’t one to keep my heart on my sleeve, open for anyone to steal. Sometimes you need time to move on and get over someone and my relationships with these TV shows were no different. Sometimes you need years to get over your last love and that was exactly what happened in my case. It wasn’t until 2004 when I felt that Television really picked up for me again. Two new shows started that year but I only had eyes for one and although the other one looked tempting, I completely ignored it and became immensely involved with Lost.
Lost had me at hello with its critically flawed characters, kept me immersed with its never-ending plot twists, and never let me down with all its unsolvable mysteries. I had found what I thought was my soul mate for life and I took my seat on the couch every week, eager to discover everything new that Lost had to offer me. My relationship with Lost was so unpredictable and so captivating that I barely had time to realize that it was never going to work out for us. I fell so deeply in-love with Lost at the time and even now it can do no wrong. What people don’t understand about my relationship with Lost is that it was much more than a show for me. I fell in love with its characters, with its incredible musical score (Michael Giacchino is brilliant) and even during my time away from Lost during the summer, the ARGs and its online incredible fan-base always kept me reliving some of Lost’s greatest moments.
But a show like Lost is too good to last forever and ultimately there had to be an ending. Eventually, even I had come to crave it. And an ending is exactly what happened on May 23rd, 2010. There are no words that can explain my feelings directly following the end of my 6 year relationship with Lost and even though I tried to put my feelings into writing, all that came out was some sad, non-readable gibberish.
After Lost, much like after my relationship with The X-Files, I wanted to find something else to love, something else to keep me at its heels. And I had several flings here and there but nothing that lasted and felt worthwhile. But because of my exclusive relationship with Lost, I had missed a remarkable opportunity for a great relationship with a show called Battlestar Galactica. And it wasn’t until recently when I decided to go back and watch all of BSG, where I realized that BSG would be another thrilling relationship with twists and turns that would keep me happy. But because BSG had already ended on air, my relationship with this TV show wouldn’t be able to last forever and I knew that it would be a short-lived euphoric fling. For me, BSG was a lot like Summer in (500) days of Summer. I loved BSG with all my heart but it tore me apart and cut me real deep and left a scar inside me that I know will never truly heal. But I had to move on.
And this is where I am right now; in between long-term relationships. I still date here and there but nothing to keep me committed. There’s this show called Fringe I have been into for a while but it hasn’t stolen my heart like last my past loves. And my relationship with V ended just as quickly as it had started and didn’t really make me feel bad when it left. It was almost a mutual parting. And I have felt that way about other shows in the past: Sliders, Law and Order just to name a few. And then there were shows like Life on Mars and Law and Order: Los Angeles that have made an impact on me but then ended too soon and only left me with the thought of what could have been.
But why do these shows and characters have such an impact on us? Why do we long to see the stories unfold week after week? What makes these characters so intriguing? And what do future relationships with TV have in store for us? These are just some of the questions that I’d like to go into detail about in my next article regarding TV. Stay tuned…