Television and the Completionist's Dilemma

A couple years back, Topless Robot published a list of "The 20 Nerd Commandments", some of which I agreed with and some of which I didn't. I did love the contest winner, though, which was "Thou must obey the Law of the Golden Mean." Hit the link for the full explanation of "the golden mean", but it basically has to do with collections and completing them.

I don't think I've ever consciously followed the law of the golden mean on a mathematical basis, but that's because in most aspects of life, I'm a completionist. When I start collecting a series of action figures, statues, movies, comics or whatever, I generally complete that set. I don't even consider it that weird, and it's clear from the Topless Robot post that most of my nerdy brethren don't either.

Where it does become weird, for me, is with my slavish devotion to TV shows. Once I start watching a show, if I make it through an entire season, I generally keep going with that show until it's canceled or ends its run... even if the show no longer holds my interest at all.

I bring this up now because "Bones" returned to the airwaves this week, a fact that I somehow didn't realize until I checked my DVR last night and saw that it was recording "Bones". I've seen every episode since it first aired, but when I watch the show now, it feels more like an obligation than a diversion.

I started watching "Bones" when it premiered solely because of David Boreanaz and his "Buffy"/"Angel" connections. I kept watching because I liked the show and its characters, even though procedurals generally don't appeal to me. But somewhere along the line -- probably about the time they wrote Zack off the show -- I found myself caring less and less about the show's ongoing stories. Combine that with the fact that the procedural aspects of the show never really appealed to em and I wasn't really enjoying it... but I kept watching... EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.

I've been doing this for probably two-plus seasons now, during which time plenty of "big" character moments have happened, the latest being the birth of Booth and Brennan's daughter this week. But where do we go from here? Hodgins and Angela are married and have a kid. Booth and Brennan have a kid, aren't married but are "together". With a lot of shows I stick with past their expiration date, I'm doing so to see "how it ends", but I'm not sure that really applies here. However the show "ends", it's already concluded so many of its character arcs.

I don't intend this as a post to pick on "Bones". It's not a bad show by any means, and I know there are plenty of people that enjoy it weekly. I just don't. So why do I continue to watch it? In the past, I watched so few weekly shows that sticking with one until it ended wasn't a big deal. But at this point watching "Bones" every week -- and "Desperate Housewives" and "Grimm", for those looking for other examples of shows I feel this way about -- is stopping me from watching other shows that have come highly recommended.

In the case of "Desperate Housewives", the show is almost over anyway, so there's no point in dumping it now. And "Grimm" is still in its first season, and I'm loath to quit on a show this early on. But I think after this season I'm done with "Bones" on a weekly basis. And, honestly, this summer I'm going to take a serious look at the other shows on my schedule ("Glee", I'm looking in your direction) and make sure they still appeal to me before I just blindly plow forward into the fall. Because while the law of the golden mean applies to a lot of things, it shouldn't come in to play when deciding what to watch every night.


  1. I have this problem too. I can't stop watching things. The last 2 seasons of ER were kind of horrifying, repeated plot lines and just... it was past it's prime. And yet, I couldn't stop watching. I continue to watch the steaming pile that is Private Practice even though it makes me want to stab out my eyes and die every week. I just can't let go.


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