As I was saying goodbye to a friend I had spent the afternoon with yesterday, he asked me how I would be spending the evening, to which I responded, “Ordering dinner and watching the Survivor finale.” His response was “You still watch Survivor?”
Oh yes. Yes, I do. I parked myself in front of the television for three hours last night, cheering for eventual winner John Cochran, lamenting the fact that Malcolm had missed out on his chance to win for the second season in a row, and recoiling in disgust as Brenda forced Dawn to remove her retainer and display her missing teeth. And I loved every minute of it.
And I wasn’t alone — 10 million people watched the finale last night, and it was the highest rated show, in both total viewers and the all-important Adult 18-49 demographic. But the implication in my friend’s question — that Survivor was so 10 years ago — got me thinking — at what point does a television go from being cool not just to watch but also to talk about, to, well, passe.
Take Glee, for instance, another show that, yes, I still watch. It’s been on the air nine fewer years than Survivor, but the tide changed in a major way after Season 2 in terms of how socially acceptable it became to actually admit you still watched Rachel, Kurt, and Finn do their singing and dancing thing. Unlike Survivor, though, where the issue was that the novelty had worn off and a portion of the audience simply moved on, in the case of Glee the issue was quality — people who had once loved the show felt let down and betrayed, and actively turned their back on it. Hearing that someone else still tuned in could become an affront to one’s sensibilities.
I’ve had my own experiences with both kinds of shows. I used to be an avid fan of both Project Runway and The Amazing Race, but I stopped watching both shows a few years back. When I hear that someone still watches either reality competition I feel a genuine, albeit narcissistic, surprise — if I lost interest, how can someone else possibly still find it worth viewing?
In the other category I’d place a show like Gossip Girl. My partner and I lived for the exploits of Blair and Serena back in Season 1, but by early in Season 2 we were so over it. To hear that people were still making Monday night appointments to watch the CW show years later was unfathomable to me. But hey — who was I to judge? I still watched Glee!
The beauty of television, of course, is that we can all choose for ourselves what to continue to invest our time in. (As long, of course, as the networks keep the shows we love on the air). And if the groups of people we can discuss the shows we love with diminish over time, well, there’s always the internet!
Are there shows that others are surprised to find out you still watch? Or shows you’re shocked your friends still tune in to? Let me know.
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