There are a ton of great shows on TV these days. With the movie industry going through a fair amount of growing pains, television has really stepped up its game with some truly amazing and captivating programming. The thing is, we don’t all have time to watch All the Shows, and with evil empires like Comcast and Time Warner making cable cost a zillion bucks it can be hard to swing a cable bill. Happily, streaming services have made life a bit more awesome.
Netflix and Hulu have become the great equalizers, giving more people than ever access to TV shows. Even better, they often carry older shows or international shows, so you can finally watch that show you always heard was so good, or finally check out that one British TV show you always see gifs of on Tumblr. It’s amazing, it’s addicting, and it’s kind of the best thing ever.
Of course, there’s also a bit of a downer when it comes to Netflix. With all of this access to TV old and new, you’re bound to catch on to a show that’s well past its prime. Maybe you just watched a particularly gnarly episode of Breaking Bad for the first time…
Your world is rocked. The episode was insane, and you’re filled with All the Feels, and you need to talk about it. You go to work the next day, and you’re all ready to unpack last night’s episode, when you realize…it wasn’t “last night’s” episode. That episode aired several years ago. Everyone else has seen it and moved on. Maybe your friends who watched Breaking Bad live remember the episode and remember the wave of emotion they went through, but they’ve already processed it. They can’t share in the acute fandom feels you’re working through. It’s then you realize the sad, horrible truth. Yes, you’re finally getting to watch that show you’ve been hearing so much about, but you’re watching it late, so the majority of the herd has moved on.
This is something I’ve really had to work through. I can’t watch a lot of shows live because of my schedule, and there were lots of older movies and television shows that, for one reason or another, I didn’t catch growing up. Whether its watching a show that’s long finished, or starting a show that’s several seasons ahead of me, my viewing habits on Netflix are largely games of catch up. While I love it, and I love discovering shows that I missed out on, it’s hard watching a new show without a ton of people to help you talk it through.
After all, part of the fun of watching a show being able to process, speculate about the future, and generally fangirl with other people. Because of this–and because I’m someone who is perpetually behind on TV–I’ve worked up a few tips to help you catch up on old shows and make it feel just as special as if you were watching it live on network TV.
Find a buddy to watch the show with you.
I watched Breaking Bad with my husband, and I’ll be honest, part of what made watching the show such a great experience was being able to watch each episode with someone else. Ideally, find someone who’s never seen the show before–that way you two can experience the show for the first time together–but even finding a friend who is a big fan of the show to watch it with you will be fun. Chances are, watching you experience the show for the first time will make re-watching the show with you super fun for your viewing buddy.
Throw an online watch party.
Don’t have IRL friends who are willing to watch a show with you? That’s the beauty of the internet, kids. Your options for online watch parties are legion. You can throw a G chat watch party where you can virtually be in the same room with all your web friends, you can live blog, you can live tweet, or you can start a hashtag for people to interact with as they have time. Whatever works best for you.
Seriously, you guys. Tumblr is your best friend when you’re watching an old show for the first time. Right now I’m watching X-Files for the first time, and I’m watching it by myself. Being able to find people still fangirling over the show on Tumblr has been so great. Sure, I’m willing to bet the impending revival has something to do with this, but I’ve been able to find thriving fandoms on Tumblr for all the old shows I’ve watched, from The IT Crowd to Breaking Bad, to a much older, British show called Spaced, and the more recently “finished” show (who knows what’s really next for this show) Arrested Development…trust me, if you’re going to find an active fandom for an old show anywhere, it’s on Tumblr.
Blog About It
Maybe you can’t find an IRL friend to watch with you, maybe you’re not comfortable with an online watch party, and maybe searching Tumblr for others going crazy over your show isn’t quite doing it for you. If that’s the case, it might be time for you to start blogging about watching the show. If you have an existing blog, maybe just add a weekly or monthly post where you express All the Feels you have for the show. If you don’t have a blog, start one about your experience. If it’s an older show with several seasons like X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you could totally have enough content to make a pretty hearty blog. Writing up a blog can be pretty therapeutic when you just want to gush about your favorite new-to-you show, and who knows, your blog can maybe even help create a community for other latecomers to the show.
When you’re watching an old show for the first time, you have to work a bit harder to find “your people” who will gush about the show with you. The good news is, you can usually either find or create that community to go through the show with you. It’s just a bit more work than finding fans of a show that is currently on the air. How do you cope with watching an old show for the first time? What are some of your ways to find other fans and first-time viewers? Let me know in the comments!