Does nostalgia and our desire to like something cloud our judgement when it comes to television? 2017 seems to be the year of reboots, with both film and television being revisited by familiar characters and storylines, but can the desire to enjoy something that once made us so happy warp our opinions on its current form? When it comes to revivals of shows like “Twin Peaks” and “The X-Files,” we want to believe (that the content is actually good!). But is it possible that we’re granting too much leniency with both old and new shows alike for the sake of nostalgia? Of a time when these shows were actually good?
While it may be difficult to admit, some shows hit their peak within the first two seasons. But a show that stopped being interesting after Season 3 and stopped being palatable altogether after Season 4 can end up going on for nine seasons — why? Often times the reason is viewer loyalty — veteran viewers who have been around since the series premiere who continue to watch the show in hopes that next season the content will reach the optimal quality found in the first two seasons that drew them in to begin with. But some shows never reach that point, and instead go on past their expiration date leaving behind a string mediocre seasons that outnumber the memorable ones.
So the real question is do we like things we’re trained to like, or do we differentiate between good and bad the same no matter the precedent? When you’re watching your favorite TV show, can you recognize and admit that an episode or season was particularly horrendous? Or do you try your best to find the good in it and hope for something better next season? Have you ever dropped a show that you once loved because you believed the quality of the content had taken a nosedive, or did you continue to watch it despite how awful it had become in hopes that it would redeem itself by the end?
Sometimes sticking it out does pay off, and a show that veered off course finds its way again and leaves dedicated viewers with a rewarding ending — but sometimes shows are cut an undeserving amount of slack for their mediocrity because there’s a strong desire from its fanbase to do well and be just as amazing as they remember it being in the beginning. There’s no better feeling than seeing the characters you’ve loved for years find their way back to the small (or big) screen, let’s just hope the writers/directors bringing them back do them justice.
Whether or not forcing yourself to watch new shows makes you a responsible TV fan, well, that’s up for debate. Listen to IndieWire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers discuss the issue in this week’s Very Good TV Podcast (above). Don’t forget to subscribe via Soundcloud or iTunes, and follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your pertinent TV news. Check out Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for more, more, more. Plus, don’t forget to listen to IndieWire’s other podcasts: Screen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, as well as Michael Schneider’s new podcast, Turn It On, which spotlights the most important TV of each week.