It’s not hard for me to get attached to things; television shows, in particular. Tell me a good story, with emotional resonance and reasonably attractive (in a physical or mental sense) characters, and I’m yours. It took me all of three episodes to get sucked into Angel– probably because they were three of the most fantastic episodes in any Joss Whedon show (Loyalty, Sleep Tight, and Forgiving). So in this sense, I’m easy. And there have been many shows that have rewarded me for my tenacity: Fringe has grown far beyond its self-imposed season one limitations. Parks & Recreation is now tied with Community as my favorite comedy, despite a pretty wretched first five episodes.
What’s much more difficult is letting go. I’ve slogged through a lot of crap, wasted god knows how many hours of my life on shows that I should have machete’d out of my rotation long before I actually did so. It takes a lot to make me actually stop watching a TV show. Part of the unwillingness to quit stems from the “I’ve invested all this time and effort into this, so by god I’m going to make it work” attitude I’ve developed over the years: I stuck with Alias pretty much to the bitter end (such a bitter, bitter end) and actually watched Heroes until, like, halfway through its fourth (and thankfully final) season. But part of it also stems from a deep-seated, nameless sense of loyalty to not only the characters and storylines but also the creative team. You feel an attachment to the people who pour themselves into their shows. Cutting a show out of your life means cutting them out of your life. And like any real relationship, that’s a hard thing to do, no matter how toxic it’s all become. And even then, it’s more of a solemn affair, not a passionate hate-filled act.
Which was why, about three episodes into this TV season, I amazed myself by not just not watching Glee but actually, actively hating it. What had started as a lovely bit of (perhaps overly) quirky musical absurdism with a deep, abiding sadness at its core had morphed into the TV equivalent of the Star Wars prequels. It was something that had immense potential and ultimately collapsed under the weight of its own hype.
Where the two diverge, though, is that Glee actually did live up to its potential for about half a season. The songs and struggles of the titular glee club were grounded in reality; a reality which Ryan Murphy somehow decided was unsustainable. Or he decided he just didn’t give a shit and wanted to do whatever the goddamn hell he felt like, and no one was going to tell him he couldn’t do an entire episode revolving around Britney Spears. The show began spinning its wheels, and everything, from the emotions to new characters to songs, became horribly inorganic and incoherent. It wasn’t a show about a scrappy glee club; it was a sloppy-yet-somehow-still-overproduced way to advertise the singles available on iTunes.
(Television is a business, of course, and thinking artistic integrity matters to network executives is naivete at best and pure stupidity at its worst. So here I blame Ryan Murphy and his crew, to whom artistic integrity should matter. I know, I know. I saw what he did to Nip/Tuck. That’s not an excuse.)
And so I threw up my hands and deleted the show from my DVR. The only time I ever looked back was when I had some friends over for the Super Bowl and we watched the episode after– an episode so wretched I actually smiled and said (out loud), “Thank god I’m not watching this schlock anymore.” Not only do I no longer suffer head trauma every week because of the amount of ::facepalm::ing and ::headdesk::ing, but that’s now another hour I can spend on literally any other pursuit of happiness. That, friends, is worth whatever pain separation might cause.