A random thought occurred to me while looking at reactions to the finale of the latest season of Torchwood this past weekend: Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it so hard to quit shows that we don’t like anymore?
We’ve all been there: The episode where you realize that whatever magic that made you fall in love with a show in the first place isn’t just not there anymore, but has been replaced by such suck that you find it hard to remember why you loved it in the first place (Admittedly, Torchwood is an odd example in this case, despite just how many people seem to have been upset by the way that Miracle Day turned out, if only because… well, let’s be honest; the first two seasons of Torchwood weren’t actually that great in the first place. It’d be more honest to say that Miracle Day was really just a case of a show reminding you why you felt awkward and embarrassed for it, while hoping that it’d get better somehow, in the first place). After all, very few things continue to improve in quality all the time, or quit while they’re ahead; a phrase like “jumping the shark” exists for a reason beyond “internet memes are catchy.”
But, here’s the thing: We almost never stop watching when that things get that terrible. We stick around, hoping that maybe it’s a bad patch and things will improve (and sometimes, that happens: Friday Night Lights season two became Friday Night Lights seasons three through five), and suffer maybe not in silence, but suffer voluntarily out of some sense of misplaced optimism and loyalty.
I’ve dropped shows in the past, suddenly realizing that things really weren’t going to get better and I’ve stopped caring – Chuck last season, for example – but whenever I do, it’s always followed by some strange sense of… guilt, perhaps, or the idea that I’ve done something wrong somehow. What if the show does massively improve again? What if everyone else stops watching as well, and the show gets cancelled? Doesn’t that make it my fault?
Am I alone in this? Feeling a sense of obligation that comes from strange, hidden, confusing place that you can’t place, to watch things that you used to love but just don’t care about anymore? And if I am – At what point do you realize that your love affair with particular TV shows are over, and how have you managed to avoid sneaking back and checking up on what you’re missing out on afterwards? Use the comments to help in this, the first meeting of Crappy TV Show Addicts Anonymous.