Last week, I saw the first episode of Breaking Bad. Yes, I know. I know. I’m so far behind the curve that there’s another curve on its way (Downton Abbey, son!). I watched the pilot, and, surprise (to no one), it was really good. I was riveted from the opening scene. I can’t believe how far the dramatic tension escalates. If watching a TV show about meth is this exciting, then seeing meth in person would probably give me a heart attack, and actually using the drug would cause my hands and feet to explode off of my body. I am, as they say, hooked. The first three seasons are on Netflix. I’ve given up showering to watch.
Here’s the ridiculous part. I had literally no good reason to not watch Breaking Bad. When the show began airing, I lived in the United States and owned a television. I didn’t find the New Mexico landscape loathsome or hold a personal vendetta against Bryan Cranston. I had Sunday night commitments, but DVR, DVD, and the internet give any motivated viewer plenty of ways to get around “appointment television.” Maybe you get one season of grace before a program really catches on, but by 2009, I should have been all aboard. Why wasn’t I?
The embarrassing truth is, I don’t trust my friends. Well, that’s inaccurate. I trust my friends with my life. I’d let them babysit my (hypothetical) children, cut my (hypothetical) hair, or even substitute for me at my (hypothetical) job. But for some reason, when a friend recommends a band, book, movie, or television show, I balk.
“Sure,” I say. “I’ll check it out when I’ve got a minute.” And then, with very few exceptions, I never check it out ever. My life becomes a web of white lies and excuses. In the amount of time I’ve spent explaining why I haven’t yet watched The Wire, I could have watched all five seasons of The Wire. Boy, did I show them. I really stuck it to those people who I like and who like me and want to share things that have made their life richer in hopes of enriching my life as well. Take that, everyone!
What’s worse is that my friends rarely steer me wrong in any memorable way. The last time I remember that happening was in 1999, when my friend Dan insisted that the new Insane Clown Posse album was actually pretty good. Spoiler Alert: It was not. Since then, friends have basically put a foot on my chest and forced me to enjoy Mad Men, The Hold Steady, Everything is Illuminated (the book), and Marc Maron’s WTF podcast among other things. So the stuff I like, I remember, and the things I don’t care for tend to fade from my memory. Except the Insane Clown Posse. Some things you can’t unhear.
So why do I keep doing this? Why, when it comes to matters of entertainment, do I distrust people to whom I would donate a kidney?
The number one reason is probably that I prefer not to feel like I was missing out on something great. If I’m not in on the ground floor with a TV show, I will ignore it. The better and bigger the thing is, the deeper I stick my head into the sand. If it’s a movie or short-lived television series, you might be able to get me on board. I watched Arrested Development and Glengarry Glen Ross under duress. I even started watching Firefly despite my unexpected aversion to science fiction. Seriously, though? The West Wing? There’s like seven seasons of that. And they’re all worth seeing? No thank you. Yes, I am aware that this is how dummies and cowards live.
I also have a weird, asinine, hipstery pride over my “selective” taste. This idea is totally insane for me to uphold because I don’t have good taste in anything. I sincerely love songs with big, dumb hooks, frivolous books, and Live Free or Die Hard. It is ludicrous for me to act like I have standards for how I spend my leisure time. I do not. If I hadn’t just started Breaking Bad, I would be spending my free time watching YouTube videos of freestyle rappers.
So I’ve decided to get over myself and trust my friends. They’re suggesting things that they’ve enjoyed and think I would like as well. That’s it. My friends have rarely led me astray, and I have to trust that there is no way they’ve just now started recommending horrible things to me as pranks. And even if they were, I’d most likely enjoy them anyway. As of today, I’m on a quest to enjoy all of the classic things that my friends and family members have recommended to me. I’m done being stubborn. I’m ready to appreciate all the finer things that popular (or unpopular) culture has to offer.
What I’m trying to say is, I hope The Godfather is on Netflix.