You know what I really struggle with sometimes? The “if you don’t like it, stop watching it” argument. On the one hand, if watching a TV show causes you so much angst that all you can do is kvetch about it constantly and harsh the squee of those around you who still like it, then maybe it’s best for all parties concerned if you just let it go and move on to a show that you actually enjoy. It would probably save you some grey hairs and help your blood pressure, right? TV, for the most part, should be escapist fun and if it isn’t fun anymore…what’s the point? My God, just walk away singing, “I Will Survive,” buy a pint of ice cream and do some channel surfing. On the other, why should you give up?
I think everybody has “that show,” that they can’t walk away from. No matter how much it disappoints you and how vocal you are about its utter suckitude, there is still that tiny kernel of hope that it’ll get better.
And with prime time television, it’s a little bit easier to let go. Most shows don’t run for longer than six-seven seasons and eventually the decision to stay with it for the long haul is taken out of your hands.
Up until the recent rash of cancellations (and I would start with Another World‘s), soaps were different. You knew full well that this show could be on for your entire lifetime. So in those cases, there most certainly was hope that “your show” could return, that the reasons you loved it could crop back up. Writers change, producers change, actors come and go, and storylines that lay dormant for ten years could be revisited in the eleventh.
And, okay, disregarding my comment higher up about prime time shows having a short shelf life, a lot of the long-running prime time procedurals follow that model as well. Look how long Sara and Grissom ‘shippers (of which I am not one) held out for a resolution. Eventually CSI gave them one!
So why should a loyal viewer, disenchanted though they may be, walk away from the game? And that’s what I always come back to, even when I’m in the full throes of one of my, “OMG, this show is so annoying, stabbity-stab-stab!” rages. Because it’s not that I don’t “like” it and should therefore stop watching it. It’s that I like it too much. I love it, am invested in it, and keep tuning in because I hope the show I fell in love with will emerge from the shell of what it has become.
Unless we’re talking about Smallville. Because I totally gave up. Dude, not even Green Arrow — whom I adore beyond all reason — and the promise of Lois and Clark finally hooking up could entice me to keep up with this season. Oh, yeah, and Heroes. But with some other shows? I just don’t want to have the epic breakup fight, because there’s always the chance that we’ll be able to work out our differences if I just stick with it.