Watching TV is an intimate act. You spend time with these fictional friends every week, sometimes over many years, and you welcome them into your home. So when you ask yourself why you can't seem to quit a show that's past its prime, you're forgetting something important: You are in a relationship. With your TV.
Well, we're all about healthy relationships here at Yahoo TV, so, in honor of Valentine's Day, we consulted dating and relationship expert Andrea Syrtash to help us through all the emotional highs and lows that a devout fan experiences throughout a show's life cycle.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Don't be fooled by an awesome-looking trailer for a new show. It's about as honest as a Match.com profile. "Any good marketing campaign sells a lot of the sizzle up front and sometimes they've shown the best clips in the promo," Syrtash says. "You really need to tune in to find out more."
A great pilot doesn't a great show make, as we've seen many times before (we're looking at you, Flash Forward). Just as you shouldn't start planning a wedding after a first date, you may want to hold off on that season pass. "If you're drawn to the actors and the picture you see in front of you, you're probably going to try to find ways to connect or make it work," she cautions. "If you spark right away, that just makes you excited to learn more, but you can't think you know where the show is going."
Strong elements and a lukewarm pilot can still lead to a happy, long-term commitment, though. "I always tell people, ask yourself two questions during the first date: 'Am I having fun now?' and 'Am I curious to learn more?' That's all you need to answer to tune in again."
WITH THIS REMOTE, I THEE SEASON PASS
How many episodes do you have to watch before you can make a fair assessment about a show's worthiness? "You'll know you're bored or more curious after three to six episode," says Syrtash. "The first three, you're just getting into it, learning the characters, understanding the landscape and the context." She adds that once you're a few episodes in, you're more likely to "be a little less in your head" and relax and enjoy the experience.
But, much like that guy who's great on paper, you shouldn't force it. "If you're bored after Episode 4, move on. If you're not over-the-moon excited but you're still intrigued, keep tuning in for a few more."
IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME
Saying goodbye to characters you've spent quality time with for years and years is never easy. But sometimes, you have to make the difficult decision… and press "delete." "If you feel like it's work to tune in, it's time to move on," Syrtash advises. "If it's not fun or at least compelling, if it's dragging on and you're no longer looking forward to watching, it's not worth it."
Syrtash also believes in what we'll call The Friday Night Lights Rule: "The best shows know when to move on. There are so many great shows that ended at their peak. It's better to leave a relationship when you still have good memories and aren't to the point of dreading it, hate-watching, and throwing tomatoes at your screen." (That could get messy!)
On again, off again relationships on TV work about as often as they do in dating. "It's a wonderful quality we have where we want our shows to change and remind us of the good old days," she says. "You have to watch the show in front of you, not what you hope it will become."
FINDING THE STRENGTH TO MOVE ON
"There's no one way to grieve the end of something," Syrtash says, but she has wealth of suggestions.
"Fill your DVR with new, exciting shows. You have so many more options and choices and channels you'll be compatible with." In other words: get out there and play a little remote control roulette.
"Don't try to fit a new show into a box to replace an old show." Read: The perfect program might be in a different time slot.
"Sometimes it's good to take quiet time." Translation: Read a book.
"A bad show can take you away from good, real relationships. Spend time with friends and family." You heard the woman: Don't forget to spend time with ACTUAL HUMAN PEOPLE. There is life beyond TV. Get out there and live it — just don't forget to set your DVR.
Andrea Syrtash is the author of more than a dozen dating advice books, including her most recent entry, It's Okay to Sleep with Him on the First Date: And Every Other Rule of Dating, Debunked.