(Apologies or Thanks to Goop for the title)
Tonight was a big night. A tv show that I loved, that I obsessively watched over and over, that I forced other people to watch, that I relished every episode… it’s over. A lot of other people loved this show, too, and a lot of people are disappointed in its ending. But I’m not. I’m okay with it.
Spoiler Warning: This post discusses events of and feels about the series finale of How I Met Your Mother. Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen it yet. Unless you’re honey badger and just don’t care. Also, these are my thoughts and feelings… yours may (and probably do) differ. My words are not intended to take anything away from your experiences.
I am a huge fan of things, in the truest sense of the origin word fanatic. I take in media and I either feel completely neutral about it or need to COMPLETELY ABSORD IT INTO MY LIFE AND LIVE AND BREATHE IT. It’s one of the many reasons that it’s clear I have a very binary personality – either on or off. When I was introduced to the Star Wars films the summer after seventh grade, I spent my entire eighth grade year (and a good portion of my first two years of high school), writing sequels in my English class journal. And then turning them into three full-length (terrible) screenplays. (Side note: I write a lot gooder now, JJ Abrams… call me). I found my husband and a lot of really good friends because I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer so much that I had to write about it and post that writing online and talk to people about it. Hell, I have a career because I was like “Get paid to moderate people talking about LOST, which I’m obsessed with anyway? HELL YEAH!”
I am a fan. I am damn proud to be a fan. But I needed to let go.
I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was the third season of LOST when everything went to hell because of network shenanigans. Maybe it was The Phantom Menace long before that. Maybe it was Moffat. (It was totally Moffat.) Somewhere along the way, with many things, I realized that as my level of fanaticism rose, my level of enjoyment started to decline. If I weren’t trying to get this post published quickly, I would make a really funny graph here.
The more I examined something, the more I picked it apart and obsessed over particular parts, the more I grew to expect of the media… the less I enjoyed it. It makes sense. I took a piece of literature, raised it up, applied so many layers of expectation onto it… how could I ever have thought it wouldn’t get weighed down with all that.
So I pulled back. I stopped analyzing, I stopped guessing, I stopped trying to think ahead. I started enjoying my television for what it was, there, in the moment. And I found something surprising. I was okay with it. Not just okay with it. I actually enjoyed the things I liked more when I just let myself enjoy them.
I didn’t rage at the final twist in LOST. I only snickered a little at Anakin’s terrible “NOOOOOO!!!!” I didn’t hate the 19 Years Later. I didn’t freak out about Batfleck. I didn’t throw things at the television every time Moffat’s Misogyny reared its head (okay, only because replacing that many tvs would have been really expensive). And tonight, when The Mother got sick and Ted’s kids told him it was obvious he was still in love with Aunt Robin anyway… I was okay. It was expected. I had made my peace with it already and decided that it didn’t diminish the previous 9 years one iota. It didn’t negate every legendary, every olive test, every moment that I knew I was Lily, every 500 miles, every spoiler alert, every time that show made me laugh, and every time it made me cry (including the four new times tonight). Those are all still there, all still a part of the show, all still a part of me.
Is there a little piece of me that’s sad that I don’t throw myself into a show or a movie whole-heartedly anymore? No, because that’s not the case. I still do. I still discover something like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and spend a weekend binge watching it and then find the best fanfic out there and read it over and over. I still have to make sure to watch The Walking Dead finale before the spoilers get out and get the new collection of the comics as soon as the library has it. I am still, 100% going to be at the midnight premieres of the Star Wars sequels, EU characters or not. But I’m not going to raise my expectations so high that they can’t breathe that altitude. Nothing can survive without air. Not even a fire as bright as a fandom.