I love introducing people to new TV shows. I have a lot of fun sharing experiences that have been impactful for me for one reason or another, and it’s really interesting to see how people respond or embrace the meaningful experiences that you choose to share. For some reason, while I was home this week, I thought about when I first
introduced my parents to Chappelle’s Show (risky maneuver, I know). We’ve all had that moment when you watch something for the first time with a friend, holding your breath for a moment that you really like and hoping so strongly that they’ll laugh (or cry, if it’s Friday Night Lights, because that’s what you do) at the same things you do.
It can be an equally powerful experience when someone approaches you, asking if you’ve seen a show that they’ve just found- this happens to me often with something like Parks and Recreation, where they’re surprised by how much they enjoy it. But in either instance, we’re experiencing the same phenomenon: that of bringing someone else into a tribe, an inner circle (no matter how large), a community that we’re excited to see them join.
It’s amazing how many different sorts of tribes this can apply to. Think about when you were new to your work environment, when you first joined a circle of friends, or even when you first became aware of an online community that you’ve joined- these principles apply in the recesses of cyberspace as well!
If you’ve watched Chappelle’s Show, you remember how much you laughed the first time you saw the Samuel Jackson beer sketch, or saw how Chad reacted to his new surroundings in The Mad Real World, and especially with any approximation of Rick James harassing Charlie Murphy. And while you may not laugh as hard the fiftieth time, or the hundredth time, or the two hundredth time you see it, there will likely always be someone rediscovering the show (thanks to streaming sites and syndication). Does the lack of a riotous reaction upon multiple viewings devalue the show at all? Not really. Does the evolution of the show (and we now know that Season 3’s abbreviated run was markedly different for a reason) hurt its overall impact? Maybe a little, but not enough to write off the whole enterprise. Viewers cycle in and out, and products change the longer they exist. But while they may hold less esteem in our eyes, they’re still new and exciting for someone. Remember that.
With anything that’s binge-watched, there’s an “old guard” that has “seen it all” already. We have a responsibility as early adopters to caution those that follow us, without tarnishing or spoiling their individual experience. The same should go for any community that we choose to be a part of- our office culture, our friendships, our online communities. Rather than choosing to be jaded in these moments, bemoaning how these episodes are old or we can’t believe the same conversations or ideas keep coming up, we can choose to appreciate that the reruns are being shared with a new generation and that new blood is entering our community. Maybe we’re not rolling in the aisles on a repeat viewing, but maybe that replay isn’t for us either.
We don’t have to watch if we’ve seen this episode and don’t enjoy it as much. Step back and let the young guns enjoy and learn about it. See where they laugh (or don’t), and take note; it may help you understand them a bit better. Listen to their questions and provide wisdom as you can. Offer advice where it appears to be needed, but not snark or vitriol where it isn’t. If the provided programming isn’t your cup of tea anymore, feel empowered to step away in search of something new (with appreciation to where the previous offerings have brought you) that does fit your needs. It’s okay to do that!
And, once in a while, take in a rerun for yourself. It may be the kick that you need to look at an old problem in a new way, or the energizer that helps you attack the same old, same old with renewed spirit.