My passion is television. The ideal scenario is a room full of every series that I hold close mingling together (it’s called The Primetime Emmy Awards). So when Loco Mag decided to do an issue of Nostalgia, I thought about all of the TV series that had gotten me to this obsessive point. Something in my past had to trigger the uncontrollable love for these scripted, recurring hours of awesome.
As a child, I remember being in front of my tiny, white television set, clad in butterfly stickers and a doll-head inside its VCR (forcefully put there by my then baby brother). I sat on the floor of my bedroom and counted down the minutes until the finale of Phil of the Future aired on Disney Channel. I didn’t know it then, but I was the biggest shipper (someone who wants two characters to be romantically involved) of Phil Diffy and Keely Teslow. This pubescent OTP (one true pairing) was my first shipping experience. Yes, I loved them and Keely was obviously in love with Phil, she just didn’t know it. And when the finale ended with Phil going back to the future and Keely remaining in 2006, I didn’t know if I could move on. It was over and just like that my eleven-year-old self lost all capabilities of functioning like a normal child. And thus my television obsession began.
Although Phil of the Future awoke the little TV obsesser in me, I didn’t become a hard-core television watcher until I discovered the best excuse for talking fast: Gilmore Girls. The WB was the channel that hosted my pre-teen excuse for love inside one show that changed my world. Lauren Graham might have raised Rory to be a well-rounded journalist, but she also raised me to be a fast-talking smart ass. My middle school and high school lunchroom conversations sometimes centered on which character was better for Rory: Dean or Jess (Dean, just accept it). I discovered the way out of most conflicts with people that I didn’t really know (teachers…or adults in general) was to say things very fast and throw in references that would keep them from seeing my hidden excuse. I wanted to grow up to drink coffee just as much as Lorelai because this would be how I met my “Luke,” but I also wanted to read everything so I could be a nerd like Rory. This series was a landmark in my television life, and I owe most of my current demand for TV knowledge to the wonderful series about a young mother and her daughter.
After realizing I could turn this insane state of mind into a livelihood, I began to think of episodes as a business. Why is this show the way it is? What are the producers trying to convey? Eventually, I thought of the question: What is the most important episode of a series? It’s arguably the pilot. This first episode sets up everything it needs (or thinks it needs) to bring an audience back to a series week after week. Looking back, the pilot that had the most impact was Lost. The rest of the series might have just been a downhill battle of disappointment, but the first episode was one of the best ever made. Normally a show takes a few minutes – sometimes even a commercial break – to really suck you in and get your attention. Lost, however, did it with a blank screen and the sound of a broken plane. Suddenly, the audience was Jack: confused and walking around the best television set ever. I was a late bloomer with this show. I began watching it a month before the sixth season aired because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about – and it was the best rash decision I made. Ever.
There have been many monumental moments in the past that have made me want to follow a career of talking about television. Looking back, sometimes I think what currently love could never be held in comparison to nostalgic moment when Lorelai, tripping over the stairs outside Luke’s diner, realizes that she likes Luke as more than just the man who gives her coffee. However, even though that will forever be engraved in my mind, I hold that moment at the same level of awesome as I do the moment when Kate Beckett was thrown against the door in the season four finale of Castle. If it wasn’t for the cage scene between Kate and Saywer on Lost, I would just be a functional television viewer who thinks some people might be somewhat compatible with each other. But because I was able to have a growing love for television, I can now reference Lost when describing what needs to happen on New Girl. Because of the past, when Anna and Bates confessed their love for each other on Downton Abbey (after 8 LONG years in Downton time) I can jump up and down on my couch holding my Kindle at arms length and saying things like, “I can’t with you beautiful, beautiful creatures.” Old things make new things better. Sometimes moving on from the past can make someone appreciate the future, and even the present, more. Yes, I would probably give anything to re-watch X-Files for the first time, but it’s okay that I can’t. Because every new pilot season has the potential to surpass the elevated pedestal that X-Files is currently sitting on. I love television. It’s my day and night. I know what day it is because of what shows are airing during primetime slots. Characters are part of me. I make references to shows to explain the type of day I am having. Nostalgia can make me miss what once was, but it also makes everything today a lot better.
Photo credit: Disney Channel/ 2121 Productions, Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, Touchstone Television/ABC Studios, Ten Thirteen Productions/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. No copyright infringement intended.