The Fans Ruin Everything: Problems With Pop Culture

Arrested Development

Having been born in the late eighties, I really feel like I missed out on a lot of really good TV. Important TV. I understand that we’re in the current Golden Age of American Television and positively sodden with manna from the telly gods, but I always think it’s good to have a base to work from.

Your appreciation of Curb Your Enthusiasm is enhanced by watching Seinfeld, or The Larry Sanders Show, for example. That said, Arrested Development is something that completely passed me by when it first came out. I heard the name bandied about but never really investigated it until the fourth series was released on Netflix. I’m an avid reader of The AV Club, and their barrage of news in the build-up to the release of those episodes made me think that maybe I should check the show out.

The problem is that outing yourself as somebody who has never seen The Show That Everyone Just Has To See is akin to confessing your inability to grow body hair.

People are disgusted. People want to know how you live your life. People want to know if your body is constantly deluged with sweat.

The truth is that being a televisual Elephant Man is only avoidable by doing your viewings in private, never venturing onto the various wikis and forums dedicated to most shows nowadays for fear of having major plot points spoiled, or for enduring the mocking gaze of people who were aware of the exploits of the Bluth family before you even had the internet. I find myself revising television shows, alloting periods in my day when I know I won’t be doing anything else to watching two episodes of Limmy’s Show, or listening to the latest Richard Herring podcast. It’s borderline obsession, but the antithesis of nerddom – I’m obsessed with rounding out my interests, not focusing too much on one area at the expense of other areas.

I’m only using Arrested Development as a recent, high profile example. I caught on to Game Of Thrones as Season 3 was about to begin, so I came pretty late to that whole saga. Fortunately,  I had no idea about the Red Wedding (I’d never read the books) and knew better than to venture onto Twitter in the hours that follow an episode, so I got to experience the full, visceral thrill of that superb piece of entertainment.

The day after, I mentioned to someone at work who I knew watched it how good I thought the episode was, and he humoured me in a relatively condescending way before explaining the differences between the books and the TV show.

I understand that there’s a lot of differences, but this is a necessity of working in the medium of television. He didn’t seem aware that George R.R. Martin had written a few of the Game of Thrones scripts, or maybe he was just wilfully ignorant.  Often we’re treated like the ignorant cousin, devoid of the “proper knowledge” that those who’ve read and absorbed the source material gained long ago. It’s the same with films, or film adaptations at least. I know quite a lot about films, and write here and there on the subject. Growing up, films were my version of comic books. But the recent spate of comic book adaptations has meant that I now know more about superheroes than I ever thought possible – the problem is that they just don’t interest me cinematically. I think I’d be more into it if I had read the comics, and I really like the idea of getting a regular installment of the latest super adventure that you can read on the toilet or something, but how do you find your “in” with Superman when he’s been going for seventy years?

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