Today’s choice requires a little context. On the face of it, I simply decided to stop watching a TV series that I’ve been working my way through. Not a big deal, right? Hardly worth a blog post.
Except the context is unique. I’ve mentioned before that I frequently approach a new year’s TV season like a fantasy football league, looking at returning veterans and scouting out new talent. I try to watch almost every new show, just to give it a try. Cable is easy for that, but streaming entities have huge catalogs, so sometimes I hear about a new show only to find out it is already streaming, and may even be in Season 2 or 3. It’s not new, it’s a veteran, I just never came across it before. Or it’s new, but it’s streaming, as I said.
I watch an EP, consider it for adding to the rotation, and if it has something to grab me, I start watching. Almost always to the bitter end. If I’ve deemed it watchable enough to go into rotation, it is REALLY rare for me to take it out of rotation. Some of that is just my connection to serialized storytelling. I want to see how the story unfolds. I might start skipping ahead in a show if it lags, watching a 44m show in 30m if it isn’t decent, but I usually want to see the major plot points. Seeing the choices the writer made to move the story forward. Some shows I watch and I know it isn’t very good. Magnum P.I. is not awesome, but I like the characters, the basic premise of the show, and I can put up with some schlock. Blue Bloods is another show that I know isn’t that good, and has some REALLY bad acting in places, yet I’m still watching. Others I will catch up on binge sets.
So simply deciding to “quit” a show is unusual for me. I’m a completist, I’ve already invested, and I just want to know how it plays out. Usually.
Then there’s the current show, You. Last year, I tagged it as a new show, something about a stalker, I assumed it was some sort of crime show. Nope. It’s almost a romantic comedy, without the comedy. And once I saw the premise, I thought, “Nope, this is stupid. It’s normalizing a stalker? Yeah, no.” But I watched all of the first episode. And it is quite dark, with the lead male portrayed as your lovable nerd who just happens to kill people who gets in his way. Parts of it is mesmerizing. It doesn’t hurt that the female lead is frequently shown in Piper Perabo-style soft light from Coyote Ugly-era. When she turns from self-obsessed to charming, she’s luminescent. And I stuck with it. There are sub-stories where he’s protecting a kid, others where he’s helping her confront some of her issues, he is almost a perfect boyfriend at times. As far as she can tell. It almost feels like a Sex in the City episode from a male perspective, except for the whole psycho reality.
Yet I feel like I’m watching a train wreck. There’s a season 2, and I have no idea if it’s the same couple, or what’s going on. I’ve made it through 8/10 episodes and as great as some of the parts are, it is STILL normalizing a psycho stalker. Half gaslighting, half Silence of the Lambs, totally creepy. And I just can’t stomach it for the other parts. It almost feels like fetish porn, some sort of stalker fantasy. Regardless of “what” it is, I find myself loving the writing, figuring out what they’re going to do with the premise, and yet hating the premise at all. I wonder if I could read it as a book and be done. I don’t know.
Today I chose to stop watching You. That’s not a normative thing, I’m sure there are people who are not emotionally f***ed up who could enjoy it just fine. I’m just not one of them anymore. There are too many other things to watch. Huh.