Why bad TV happens to good people. Warning: Spoilers for the True Blood series finale — if you still care.
Tony Rivetti / HBO
Watching the series finale of True Blood on Sunday night, I found myself haunted by two persistent questions: One, how is it possible that this episode could be so much worse than my already dismal expectations? And two, why the hell am I still watching True Blood? Each season has been progressively worse than the last, and that's saying something for a show that was never that good to begin with. Season 7 was a particularly arduous slog toward a conclusion I'd long stopped caring about. And yet, I continued to tune in every goddamn week. Sometimes, I confess, I even looked forward to it.
It occurred to me that True Blood isn't the only series that I've stood by long after it went off the deep end. There are plenty of shows I once legitimately enjoyed that saw a serious drop in quality — but canceling my season pass was somehow harder than enduring crappy television on a weekly basis. I know I'm not alone here: Several people I've spoken to continued to watch True Blood and other former favorites years after they should have quit. So what gives? Why do we stick with certain series long past their expiration date?
John P. Johnson / HBO
The problem with giving up on a show you once loved is just that — you once loved it. That feeling is hard to shake, even after you realize that the current season is a mere shell of its former self. We grow attached to these series and, perhaps more importantly, to the characters. As much as you might hate the direction the show has taken those characters in, you feel guilty about leaving them behind entirely.
It's important to remember that you can't hurt a show's feelings by changing the channel. Nor will the fictional characters mind if you decide to move on from their weekly adventures. It's a testament to the emotional investment we have in the television series we love that these thoughts even cross our minds. Let's be clear, though — being kind to yourself is way more important than being kind to a now-shitty show.