My mom and I used to watch All My Children together. She would pick me up from preschool and we’d go home and hit the couch in time for some peanut butter sandwiches and mid-nineties Kelly Ripa. There were controversial haircuts, bright sweaters, and evil doctors. There were twisters and blackouts and car crashes. I remember something about people trapped in a flooding basement. There was probably also a lot of sexual intrigue, but I didn’t pick up on that.
This all went away when my afternoons at school stopped being Optional Sandbox Time and started being Actual Educational Time. After that, I was mostly a productive human who didn’t have a relationship with a soap opera. I mean, sure, once every few years, I’d ask my mom what was up with my favorite characters, only to find out that they were all falling into waterfalls and marrying the wrong guys and dying from poisoned pancakes. That REALLY HAPPENED so please take a moment to let it sink in. And then a girl from my high school joined the show in its final season so I googled a few clips online and, you know, I kind of had to watch the finale, right? I owed it to my three-year-old self! And ok fine it is perfectly clear to me now that none of this is normal. My early exposure to soap operas ruined me for life.
I will never believe you when you tell me a character is dead. Call it the J.J. Abrams principle. It is no coincidence that Alias is the first non-Disney Channel show I ever fell for. Remember this?
Sydney: “She’s supposed to be dead.”
Jack: “So are a lot of people.”
I think my favorite thing about that moment is that the writers basically gave up. Nope. No more explanations. No more excuses. They were just going to bring back the characters they wanted to bring back, and we didn’t need to know the details. I am fine with that. I might actually prefer it.
I do not need to understand everything. Give me great characters who are imperfect and unpredictable and dangerous and warm and fascinating. If I identify with people and love them and want them to be together, I WILL NOT COMPLAIN just because the cave with the light at the heart of the island doesn’t make any sense. Just chalk it up to wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. I will not question you.
When I am in it for a storyline, that’s probably because it’s a terrible cliché. The first time I ever saw Bones, it was toward the end of season four. My roommate was a fan, so I’d seen a few early episodes on DVD, and I was mostly ambivalent. I only tuned in for season five because I’d read about the finale. So, to clarify: as fans were practically rioting about the big season four twist, I was over in my corner like “amnesia, yes, good, I should watch that show.”
I am the worst.
I commit hard. I want my characters forever. I want to watch them grow and meet people and lose people. I don’t just want them for one book or one movie. I want to hang out with them for a whole library of books and preferably at least five years of my life. AT LEAST. I’ll also accept fifty. You guys! Doctor Who is my dream!
It’s clear to me now that I’m a lost cause. And this extends way beyond television–“evil twin” is my actual theory on what happened to Brett Favre. So am I alone in this? If your TV preferences were shaped by weird early viewing habits that you’d rather not talk about, let’s talk about it.
I’m here for you. We’re all in this together.