Fickle or Faithful?   

Something I’ve been pondering a lot recently in these new and different post-Writers-strike times, is what compels us to stick with a TV series?Why are we Fickle with some shows and Faithful to others? What makes us want to stick with a show that has disappointed us, while we quickly give up on another show for doing the same thing?Is it a personality thing where some people are always Fickle, while others are always Faithful? Or is it more specific to the show?

The fact that I seem to have switched from a Faithful to a Fickle in the past year, combined with disappointment over some of the Brothers & Sisters plotlines this season, is what got me thinking so much about this. But recent comments from others about being less than impressed with the post-strike offerings has kept me wondering… Are TV series loosing ground to the Fickle, or will the Faithful always be able to support them?

A fine example of a show that has been disappointing lately, but I will stick with for the long haul is Heroes. The first season was exceptional and set the bar quite high, but season 2 was widely viewed as a let-down. And for the most part, I agree. But still, I’m anxiously awaiting season 3 with my fingers discreetly crossed in hopes that it will be good again. On the other hand, Samantha Who? which I was quite enjoying before the strike, came back with a couple of less-than-stellar instalments, and I couldn’t even be bothered to finish watching what was on my PVR.Those crazy ladies on Wysteria Lane can’t seem to hold my attention for more than a week or two, yet I’ll never leave the wacky doctors at Seattle Grace. What gives?

I know that part of the reason I’ve become more discerning with my shows is that my living situation has changed, and I now have to share my time – and the TV – with someone else. This forces me to be more selective, or else I’ll be watching TV at 2 am in order to get everything in since I no longer have free reign to monopolize the TV all evening.

I also believe that the WGA strike has had a lot to do with the shift in my TV viewing habits. Partly because I’m annoyed with the networks for letting it go on so long when they should have been supporting their writers, but mostly because I’ve gotten out of the habit of watching TV.When I suddenly didn’t have a minimum of 3 hours of viewing every night, I found other ways to fill my time. And now I find that those things are more important than making sure I catch every show that everyone is talking about.And as they say… out of sight is out of mind.I fear for shows like my beloved Chuck… after being gone for so very long, will the viewers come back? I worry about this because I know that I for one have lost interest in other shows that disappeared with no signs of return until fall.

The final cause of this shift in viewing patterns has a lot to do with how fast the networks swing the cancellation axe. I’m so wary of premature cancellations that if a show even remotely feels like it’s not going to get support from the network, I’m outta there. I just can’t take any more Firefly/Wonderfalls/Love Monkey/Joan of Arcadia/Veronica Mars level of emotional destruction.I get involved in my shows. I fall in love with the characters. And just when I think they’re going to bea part of my life for a long time to come. Wham! Gonzo. So now I try to stay detached for as long as possible… sometimes this saves me from a painful loss, but I’m betting that sometimes it also causes me give up on a show that could be great.

This newly developed TV Fickleness has really been harsh on my weekly schedule. Desperate Housewives, Men in Trees, Samantha Who?, and My Name is Earl have all been victims of the phenomenon. Coming from someone who used to be almost obsessive about not missing a moment of any show that I was watching, and would follow a show that was popular even if I didn’t love it as much as everyone else – this is a surprising turn of events.Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing mind you… everyone in my life who is not a fictional character seems to think this is a really good thing.

My mantra now is “quality over quantity”. Hopefully this will allow me to still have a worthy collection of good shows to love every week, while still having time for the things in my life that take place outside of the small screen.

What about you? Are you a Fickle or a Faithful? Have you always been that way, or have recent factors caused you to change your habits? Is it merely a matter of quality, or have we changed our expectations? And most importantly… What shows are worth sticking with no matter what? Which shows have you given up on recently? And which shows are on your personal bubble and why?

13 Responses to “Fickle or Faithful?”

  1. 1
    afrocurl says:

    My general inclination is to be faithful, but it was harder after the strike ended, for sure. I found new shows to watch during the time, which means that next season is already looking a bit fuller.

    However, I watch, and I’m leery of obsessing too much, only to be gutted later.

  2. 2
    Rae says:

    Well…. I think we both know I tend to stick with a show long after it’s expiration date and it’s not just smelling a little sour to me but making me gag as well (lovely imagery, no?), but I’m not sure if this makes me a true Faithful or not. I just fear walking away and then hearing it got better because I know I’m less likely to return if I haven’t kept watching.

    Of course, a lot of the time it is about Faith. If a show has given me at least one full season that I’ve loved and characters that I’ve grown attached to (important distinction), I’m not going to walk away just because I didn’t like the direction it took for a little while. That said, it’s obviously going to be a ranking game… I’ll definitely return to Heroes because I still like the premise of the show and several of the characters and I want to see where they’ll go with it. On the other hand, I care less and less about the folks on Desperate Housewives and I suspect all it will take for me to stop tuning in to see what they’re up to is something else on at the timeslot or a more overwhelming TV schedule.

    Like you pointed out, I think some of it depends on your TV fame of mind but I’m definitely more on the Faithful side looking longingly over at the Fickle folks. ;)

  3. 3
    Stella says:

    Hmmm–I’m mostly faithful. My Name is Earl definitely had an uneven season this year. But I’ll still check it out next year. I thought Desperate Housewives was pretty interesting–although the end of the season finale left me thinking WTF?!!! It almost seemed like a series finale with that stupid little epilogue.

    I got sick of Grey’s Anatomy in season two. Mostly because of the whining. I can’t stand whining. I guess that’s the reason I never really got into Brothers and Sisters. They should put Teri Hatcher, Ellen Pompeo, Calista Flockhart and Anne Heche on one show all about the drippy exploits of mopey, maudlin, self-absorbed martyrs. Then I could avoid being annoyed by absolutely never watching that show!

    Part of the problem isn’t the audience, it’s the programmers. Cheers wasn’t a smash hit right out of the gate–it took time to develop an audience. Nowadays if you don’t pull the ratings in your first week on the air, you’re put out to pasture faster than you can say “Cavemen” (actually that show over stayed its welcome but only because there was a shortage of programming due to the strike).

  4. 4
    Just Jody says:

    afrocurl – I’m curious, what new shows did you pick up during the strike?

    Rae – I think B&S is going to be the first time I’ve ever walked away just because I had an issue with one storyline. With most of the other shows I’ve lost interest in, I still like to check in once and a while to see what’s going on.

    Stella – LOL! I don’t think I could handle your show of whiny women! And I completely agree that the networks really need to start giving shows a chance to build an audience. If you’ve ever gone back and watched season 1 of Friends, you’ll see that it clearly took some time to gain it’s footing too. But what a shame it would have been if they’d cancelled it after 3 weeks like everything else.

  5. 5
    Anita says:

    Mostly faithful, although I don’t just stick with a show that I no longer enjoy. I’m not fickle enough to drop a show because of a few ‘bad’ episodes or because I don’t like a story line, because there’s usually something in it I can love if, I already am invested in the characters, so I’m 99% willing to go along for the ride. That being said, when it was clear that shows liked Charmed, Smallville and One Tree Hill was having more than just one bad season, I was easy enough for me to drop them. Of course, now some people have said that SV’s season 7 is great, but I don’t regret not putting up with 3 previous seasons of ‘WTF?’ so I could be there when it finally got good again. Even if my favorite seasons of TV’s shows, there are things I don’t like at times, so that’s not enough to make me leave, but multiple consistently bad seasons in a row will have me waving goodbye without regret! (*I’ll add that there is an exception of a storyline making me quit the show as I stopped watching Alias in its last season when a certain character was killed off…of course, once I found out that the person wasn’t actually dead, I hurried out to buy that season on DVD!)

    As for new shows..I still emotionally invest in them, but not to the level of my love for VM as I don’t think I could deal with loving another show that much and having it be canceled! (Of course, now I feel like I’m posting on a dating website or something. I divorced Charmed, Smallville and One Tree Hill without regret, but I married VM and it left me widowed when it died/got canceled!) As for my other favorites…if they were canceled (*knock on wood*), I’d be crushed, but not devastated.

  6. 6
    afrocurl says:

    Jody–I ended up watching both Bones and Ugly Betty during the strike, which I loved. I also finally gave into Doctor Who and Torchwood, but those are a bit different.

  7. 7
    marenamoo says:

    I was watching 15 shows before the strike and I too discovered which ones that I really missed and which had become habits. Sundays – I have not yet caught up on post-strike (which when I say that it is quite telling) Brothers and Sisters and given the plotlines I am not sure if I will. Mondays I have not caught up on Heroes after Kristen Bell joined (made me miss VM too much), dropped Samantha Who but can’t wait for Chuck to return. Gossip Girl (another catch up) is another Monday maybe and the new Dollhouse is a definite. Tuesdays – love NCIS and House (great Finales), was very disappointed in Bones finale, dropped Reaper. I am looking to adding Fringe. Wednesdays – I think I will drop Pushing Daisies, Private Practice and DSM – found out I did not miss them. Thursdays belong to Supernatural, I dropped Grey’s after Denny died and George got married. I too hate whiny self absorbed women and Meredith takes the cake. Fridays I stuck with Numb3rs and Stargate Atlantis and Life will be there too. I dropped Moonlight (did not like Sophia Myles and had the same VM problem with Jason Dohring.

    Stargate Atlantis
    Bones (may drop and be fickle)

    Need to Maybe catch up
    Brothers and Sisters
    Gossip Girl

    Samantha Who
    Pushing Daisies
    Private Practice
    Dirty Sexy Money
    Ugly Betty
    Women’s Murder Club

    New to catch
    Eleventh Hour
    Fickle or Faithful? : RTVW Online

  8. 8
    Stella says:


    The point of putting all the whiners on one show wouldn’t be to torture you while watching them, it’s so they’re all segregated into one place to make it easy to AVOID them. LOL!!!

    Friends–that’s a great example! I remember Tom Shales of the Washington Post reviewed it when it premiered calling it a pale ripoff on of Seinfeld. Subsequently I avoided it for many years–and when I did catch up with it I was pleasantly surprised at how well-written and enjoyable it was!

  9. 9

    I used to be faithful, I stayed with The X-Files and The Drew Carey Show till the end when I should have jumped ship a lot ealier. Yet last season, I dropped about five shows in the middle of the season last year, and that is more than I dropped in the previous years combined. I am just tired of the substandard writing and acting that has plauged TV these days. Lost may be the last show that I am faithful of when I know should stop watching because it is sometime excruciatingly painful to watch.

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    [...] Examining what makes her stick with Heroes despite it’s let-down of a second season but drop Brothers & Sisters over a disappointing storyline, Jody wonders what kind of fan you are: fickle or faithful? (RTVW Online) [...]

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    [...] Examining what makes her stick with Heroes despite it’s let-down of a second season but drop Brothers & Sisters over a disappointing storyline, Jody wonders what kind of fan you are: fickle or faithful? (RTVW Online) [...]

  12. 12

    [...] Examining what makes her stick with Heroes despite it’s let-down of a second season but drop Brothers & Sisters over a disappointing storyline, Jody wonders what kind of fan you are: fickle or faithful? (RTVW Online) [...]

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    [...] Examining what makes her stick with Heroes despite it’s let-down of a second season but drop Brothers & Sisters over a disappointing storyline, Jody wonders what kind of fan you are: fickle or faithful? (RTVW Online) [...]