The 5 Stages of Hate-Watching
There's a thin line between love and hate, and an even thinner line when that “hate” is wrapped up in 50 percent obsession and 50 percent shame. Hate-watching is the magical transition that occurs when a person goes from enjoying a show ironically to genuinely. After years of spending summer vacations indoors and vegging out on Gilmore Girls re-runs, I’ve grown to consider myself somewhat of an expert in the art of filtering through bad TV. I learned to hate-watch the way most people fall asleep — slowly, and then all at once.
Could you or someone you love be addicted to hate-watching? Probably. Spot the signs and prove we’re not alone:
Stage 1: Intrigue It starts off slowly. You’ve seen a few bad commercials, laughing over its corny premise. Who could possibly be interested in this show, you think. After all, there are only so many directions Alaskan Women Looking for Love can possibly go in. Surely this is all some elaborate joke staged by none other than Jimmy Kimmel.
Stage 2: Consent Enough already. At this point, you’re so sick of sitting through the cheesy promos and tacky one-liners that you decide to give in. Why cry over 40-page textbook readings when there’s so much bad TV in the world? You somehow manage rope in a friend by bribing/convincing them that it might be fun. I mean, think of all the clever inside jokes. How could you not?
Stage 3: Reflection Wow, that was... really fucking bad. If the excessive laugh track wasn’t obvious enough then the hashtag references confirmed it, but you’re no quitter. You watch on anyway. One hour later, it’s clear that the rest of the general public seems to agree with your doubtful forecast. You nod knowingly, accepting your new role. Will the real Roger Ebert please stand up?
Stage 4: Denial But then a week passes, and something strange happens. Here you are, watching said show once more. After all, doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? You make up excuses, try to rationalize this strange fixation, but it’s too late. You’re officially invested, goddammit. You’ve had a taste of that sweet, sweet scripted melodrama and there’s no turning back.
Stage 5: Acceptance This is your life now. You’ve accepted, even embraced it. You openly acknowledged that your new favorite show is a cystic outbreak on the face of TV entertainment, and you’re totally fine with that. Never again will you judge the poor souls forced to share their enthusiasm in the comments section.
Not every poorly marketed pilot, however, turns out to be a total dud. One of fall’s most surprising hits is CW comedy Jane the Virgin, a show which somehow managed to spin accidental artificial insemination and telenovela dream sequences into a must-watch. Perhaps, you may have even lucked out and found your, once dirty little secret, miraculously managed to turn things around and amass a cult following.
Either way, there are always larger embarrassments to be had. If Mariah Carey can have glitter and Nick Cannon, then surely you’re allowed one-hour week of Real Housewives.