It’s something that happens to me every couple of months.
A new TV show. It starts naively enough: a friend will mention it to me in passing, I’ll see that someone has given it a ‘like’ on Facebook, or it will pop up on one of the trashy websites I read daily (usually Jezebel, or ONTD).
My initial reaction is usually: meh, maybe next time.
When I say this, it’s generally because I’m already deeply addicted to something else, and wading through the deep, dark dregs of full-on obsession. At this point I’m usually considering making a secret, show-related tumblr. I’m watching all of the episodes for the third time around while outwardly pretending as though I haven’t so much as seen the pilot.
But, like all things in my life, obsessions come and go. And, if the timing is right, and I’m on the outs with my most recent go-to, I’ll bite.
New TV show, you say? My weekend is… well, that’s not important. So don’t mind if I do!
And in one, innocent moment, that’s where it starts.
THE PILOT IS OKAY.
So it definitely isn’t the greatest thing that you’ve ever seen, but it also isn’t the worst.
It’s better than the two weeks that summer you spent obsessing over The OC and Seth Cohen back when it was first on TV (thanks, FOX), but it doesn’t quite live up to the standard most recently set by, say, the first three seasons of Supernatural.
You turn off the pilot without much thought, and go to bed. Whatever, you think solemnly. This show isn’t even worth all of those Emmys it was nominated for.
THREE DAYS LATER, YOU’RE HALFWAY THROUGH THE FIRST SEASON.
You’re committed to this, now, and it’s time to see it through.
This TV show is habit forming, and you’ve made yourself a nightly routine of watching an episode or two before bed. And that’s all well and fine, until one night it’s suddenly 4AM after your third or fourth episode, and you’re staring wide-eyed, nearly buzzed, at the bright screen of your laptop.
When you open up your download folder, you realize that you’ve already plowed through half a dozen episodes.
Damnit, you think, rolling over. You’d only meant to watch one more.
APPROACHING THE FIRST SEASON FINALE.
Despite your best intentions you are now fully involved.
You’ve chosen your favorite character, you’ve fully sided with him or her, and you’re chuckling along with a few lines of dialogue per episode in that ‘ha-ha, I totally get why this is funny in relation to that character’ type of way.
Otherwise, you now know all the names of the main characters, and although you’ve accidentally also memorized all of the actors names from the title cards, you don’t actually know which character goes with which actor.
Not quite yet, anyhow.
VIEWING OF THE FIRST SEASON FINALE.
WA-BAM: you’re hooked.
Whatever, it’s fine, totally fine, because now you can actually look at stuff pertaining to the first season online without having to worry about spoilers.
You pause, considering, and then immediately head to YouTube to watch the first season’s gag reel.
…NOW THE DOWNLOADING BEGINS.
You run into your first show-related problem: the second season is currently airing on TV, but you’ve missed all of the episodes since September.
Not to worry! You immediately begin downloading torrents, and, although it is a pain in the ass to download each episode individually, you do it.
Moderation? What the hell is that?
THE INEVITABLE FACEBOOK “LIKE”.
When the day finally comes that you search for the TV show, the first thing that Google serves you on a silver platter is the official Facebook page.
This is it: the moment of no turning back. The confirmation that you don’t mind if your friends know that you enjoy this television show.
You debate the implications of liking something so freely, so recklessly, before the inevitable mouse click. You do it. You do it with intent, with pride.
…you also refresh your Facebook profile page, just to see what the show’s thumbnail looks like next to all of your other favorite shows.
NOW YOU’RE IN.
With one poke at the show’s online identity, you immediately begin to fall down the rabbit hole.
Namely: you’re minding your business one day, lurking your friends and co-workers Facebooks, when WA-BAM, there’s a post related to your current fixation. It’s damn near wearing a halo.
It’s posted by the official Facebook page. It couldn’t be that bad. You click it.
Now you’re in the comments, and, despite your best intentions, you start to identify with other fans. Deeply. You hated that character, too! And you TOTALLY thought that was the weakest episode.
Your attention suddenly turns away from your previous, trusted online priorities (see: aforementioned lurking), to this new, bizarre world full of show-related memes and topics of discussion.
You continue to PVR the remaining episodes as they air.
FINALLY: NO GOING BACK NOW.
The day finally comes.
Like drawing a line in the sand with your bare toes before purposely stepping over that boundary, you do it.
Your tumblr, before today, had primarily been your outlet to repost cute photos of kittens, funny screen caps, Internet chain letters, and stalker pictures of various band members. But today — today, all of that changes.
You navigate your mouse, like a drunk sea captain navigating choppy waters. You click on the search bar, and you begin to type.
Search for tag: #yourshow
And now you really know that there is no turning back.
You can read more from Ashley Migneault on her blog.
Featured image via.