Sunday, August 15, 2010

What Your Series Commitments Say About You


A few weeks ago I had dinner with a friend who had recently been introduced to the (apparently delightful) Avatar: The Last Airbender animated cartoon series. In the same breath that he described his enjoyment of the show, he also mentioned that he was resigned to seeing the (apparently awful) M. Night Shyamalan film adaptation based on the series. "Why?" I asked. "Because I have to," he said, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I was flabbergasted. His initial investment (and enjoyment) into the series meant seeing every single other piece of media related that series, regardless of quality. I thought about it for a while, and realized that this same friend had used a similar sentiment regarding his friends, basically implying that once you were in his good graces, he would basically stand by you and support you through thick and thin, no matter what.

In thinking about that relationship some more, I came to the conclusion that a lot of people I know have similar parallels between their relationship with various series (mostly television, but also book, game, or movie franchises), and their real life relationships with friends, families and lovers. I certainly relate to my friend, as I've been equally stubborn with a lot of series that I probably should have given up on sooner. I watched the entirety of 24 even though the show has had large pockets of sheer ridiculousness. I went and watched every Harry Potter movie even though none of them left me feeling as close to satisfied as the books did. And at this point it's safe to say I'm watching Curb Your Enthusiasm and it's almost painfully predictable (add Larry David + another celebrity + a trivial social faux paus, heighten and repeat) 7th season out of some strange sense of viewer obligation (and, in the case of this season, for the fake Seinfeld reunion). And my relationships? Let's just say if you're in the club, for the most part you have to actively want out to be shown the door.

This idea got me excited, so I've come up with a couple of types of viewer habits and related social commitments, which I'm going to list here. For simplicity's sake, I've made it soley about television. I'll be rating every 'type' by how they watch tv, what their relationships are like, and as a final qualifier, how many episodes of Heroes they've seen. Heroes, as you all should know, was a show that started off really good, then got steadily and then dramatically worse as time went on. How long you watched that show is a wonderful litmus test to discover your commitment level, both on-screen (or in front of screen?) and off.

So figure out your type below, and maybe you'll discover something you never knew about yourself!

What Your Series Commitments
Say About You 

The Finicky Flipper

How He Watches TV: Doesn't own a DVR and doesn't care to. If he hears something is cool, he'll check it out, or not, whatever. He saw the first episode of Justified last night, thought it was pretty sweet. But halfway through he changed over to that awesome Family Guy where Stewie and Brian go on a road trip. Doesn't remember a single character's name from any show except for 'House!' which he always pronounces emphatically.

Episodes of Heroes Watched: 1 1/2 - The first season finale, and part of that one where the cheerleader chick is wearing something revealing.

And His Relationships?: Has a tons of options, but zero commitments. Has a group of bros, dates regularly, and is very careful to keep members of the opposite sex from posting anything on his facebook page. He's perpetually late, he'll sign up for classes and never show, and talks nonstop about his desire to move to Miami/Chicago/Costa Rica.  He doesn't call his mother nearly enough. Bought a parakeet on a whim one day, and tried to teach it say "Tequila" for an hour before bringing it back to the pet store.

The Serious Subscriber

How He Watches TV: Will NOT watch a show if it's not from the first episode. Very hesitant to watch a new episode of any show since, if it's any good, he'll immediately have to season pass it, and lord knows adding a 14th series is REALLY gonna dig into his extremely limited free time. Despite his best efforts to trim it down, his Netflix queue has over 220 titles.

Episodes of Heroes Watched: Every. Single. One. And he's absolutely hated it ever since the middle of the second season.

And His Relationships?: Is besties with everyone at work, and is doing his part to stay in touch with the gang from college while also sending out email blasts for the upcoming 14 year high school reunion. Spends a lot of time posting, sharing and tagging photos on facebook. Lives near (or with) his parents, and has either been married already for 10 years or is desperately single.


The Casual Clicker

How He Watches TV: Will get wrapped up in a show at the height of its popularity and will keep watching for a while. Will be kind of amazed that a TV show can be this good! Tells all his friends they HAVE to check it out. Gets excited to be a part of the nerdy conversations about what happened on last night's Fringe, but quickly distances himself when it gets REAL nerdy. Eventually he either falls behind or loses interest once say, Jim and Pam have their baby.

Episodes of Heroes Watched: 14, the second half of Season 1, and the very beginning of Season 2. Couldn't understand why Sylar was still alive - didn't he die? Stopped following once the show changed timeslots.

And His Relationships?: Pretty normal, actually.

The Jaded Uh, Jungler?

How He Watches TV: Watches GOOD shows, until they go BAD, which they ALL do, eventually! Though Futurama still rules. Gives out either one or five star reviews to all his netflix titles. Will never forgive Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse for wasting six years of his life with Lost.

Episodes of Heroes Watched: 53, through the middle of 'Volume 4'. Kept HOPING beyond HOPE they could get their shit together and actually bring back the magic of Season 1. Even thought Season 2 had its moments! Is currently going to town on the message boards.

And His Relationships?: Feels superior to everyone who's any less 'in the know' than him. Has more online friends than offline friends. Is madly, MADLY in love with the cute intern at his office and is freaking out because she leaves after tomorrow and he wants to say something to her but he knows she's just gonna say she has a boyfriend or something else, so what's the point? Is good to his mother.

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I've already realized the potential for insult in my descriptions, but let's be clear people, there's a sliding scale. And the friend I referenced  earlier - is actually nothing like the "serious subscriber" I described above, so I assume/hope he won't take offense. 

What do you guys think? Is there any correlation from being overly or underly committed to a beloved series? Or am I just overlooking the obvious answer I've already been told for years: that too much TV, movies and video games rot your brain? Yeah it's probably that.


-Matt