On Starting New TV Shows

I am not a huge TV watcher.

Here’s a list of shows I’ve seen every episode of:

  • Parks and Recreation
  • The Office
  • Community
  • Lost
  • Flashforward
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The Walking Dead
  • Freaks and Geeks
  • Breaking Bad (Blame the husband — this is not my typical show. As you can see.)

No, really, that’s all. There are a lot of other shows that I think, ‘Yeah, I need to catch up on that one!’. Shows like Arrested Development (I’m almost finished with the fourth season, then it can join the acclaimed list above) or The Vampire Diaries. There are some I just watch casually or ones I’ll finish someday, like Saturday Night Live, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 30 Rock, Twin Peaks, or Modern Family. And there are quite a few that I have no problem watching, I just don’t generally go out of my way to watch them.

All this to say that I’m finally starting Firefly.

Yeah, I know. I write science fiction (though light — nothing in space!) and I haven’t seen Firefly?

I watched the pilot and I tell Chris, my husband, that we should watch it together. He says he doesn’t want to start a new TV show. It’s too much of an emotional investment.

And it totally is. All of the TV shows that I listed above (with maybe the exception of Breaking Bad) I get so emotionally invested in. I freak out when there are (or were) hiatuses. I read every review on the episode that just aired. I defend it vigorously to people. I tell everyone they should watch it. That’s a big commitment. I’m not saying that every TV show I watch will get to that status (*coughBREAKINGBADcough*) but it’s hours of my life! It’s saying that if I do like it, I’m going to get to that point.

I had to turn down some shows when my husband wanted me to watch the Newsroom or House of Cards. My sisters say, ‘Watch New Girl! Watch How I Met Your Mother!’ My friend Cara says I should watch Mad Men and Game of Thrones. And each time I was like, ‘…meh. I’d rather start a new book series.’

Which is kind of funny. I will emotionally invest myself in a new book series with no problem. I will give up a weekend to a book. I will forsake duties and family members for a book. I will count down release days, stalk author’s online, watch for cover reveals and deleted scenes and Tumblr that book up. And I think it’s because — no offense, TV — but I just like books more. I like being in one person’s head the whole time. I like curling up in bed with my Kindle. I like the power of words and how they carry me through the story. I’ve always been a person about words, not visuals, and books appeal to that side of me.

Of course, I recognize that sometimes books and TV shows have different purposes. Different angles. Different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to storytelling.

For example, TV shows can cover a huge cast of characters. Books can do that, but it’s not done well very easily, and I generally tend to like them more if they have a smaller cast of POV characters.

from tvtropes.com

Another thing is TV can go on a lot longer than books can. Books tend to have one clear arc that is tied up in a trilogy and sometimes seven books. A few series have been stretched out, definitely, but it’s not the common thing. I don’t know if it’d because it takes much more time to read a book than watch a 47-minute TV show, because of the publishing world, or what, but trilogies are way more common than huge, long series like The Sookie Stackhouse series.

Another thing I noticed: my TV and book genres don’t always line up. I watch a lot of comedies, but I don’t read comedies. The main genre I read is YA, but I don’t watch a lot of shows that are about teenagers. I like YA books because I like the discovery, the action, the romance. I like science fiction TV shows because they generally deal with a big cast of characters dealing with some kind of disaster and questioning about morality and humanity. Maybe both of these genres do the same thing, but in different ways? Or maybe I just like what I’m familiar with, and now that I’ve been stuck in this way for a couple years, I’m not going to change it.

Speaking of familiarity, Firefly is a bit like Battlestar Galactica. More humor, definitely, and, as far as I can tell so far, it’s not a huge, broad storyline affecting all of humanity like BSG.┬áPeople rave about this show. My brother David has wanted me to watch it for years. I’m ready to make another commitment. So, I hope you consider yourself lucky, Firefly, because this is a privilege. If you do your job, as most of the shows I listed did, you will have a fan for life. Show me what you got.

ETA: OMG, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? I forgot Avatar: the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Forgive me, Sokka.

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