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#594: My boyfriend won’t watch my favorite TV show

Omar from the Wire, "Indeed."

From Wire Inspire, a worthy Tumblr.

Hi Awkwards!

My boyfriend and I have been together for around 2 years. We’re incredibly compatible and this relationship has done a lot for me. I was in a pretty shitty situation before we met, and he’s done so much to encourage me to accomplish the things I want, I feel very lucky.

Basically, there are several shows that I love dearly and want to share with him. He’s done the same for me – He’s a huge fan of Joss Whedon so we are working our way through the Whedonverse. We’ve completed Buffy and Angel and are now on the second season of Dollhouse. The original deal was that I would watch Buffy if he would watch The Wire. 7 seasons later… he’s watched the first episode and wouldn’t continue.

When we first started hanging out I tried to get him to watch Battlestar Galactica, but the explosions in space were too annoying for him to continue. I tried to get him to give Game of Thrones a try, but he was turned off by the fantasy setting. Several months later, he must have encountered something that made it finally sound interesting, because he’s now a huge fan of the show and we gush over new episodes together. The same thing happened with Deadwood, I wanted to watch it together but he wasn’t into it, and then he ended up watching all of it by himself sometime later and loved it.

I only really care about The Wire. The other shows I can enjoy on my own without wanting him to share them with me. I have pretty strong feelings about it, I think it’s an amazing example of storytelling and I think there are a lot of things he would really enjoy about it. It feels like he’s blowing it off without giving it a chance. We’ve talked about it and he knows that watching it would mean a lot to me. He says that the subject matter is too depressing and since he is already depressed it isn’t a good show to watch right now, but has promised that he is interested and will watch it in the future. I don’t really believe that, though.

Really I’m just writing in to find out if I’m being reasonable, and if it’s worth bringing up to him again. Forcing someone to watch something they aren’t interested in won’t make them suddenly like it. I don’t want to turn him off it forever, but I am feeling sad about this. I just don’t know if it’s justified. I do have a lot more tolerance for things in shows that I don’t like than he does. Do I just need to chalk this up to personal differences and get over it?

Thanks for reading,
Long Live Omar

Bubs from The Wire saying Soccer - Suck What?

Bubs is probably not watching the World Cup this week.

Omar Comin’!

A heartfelt media recommendation is like any gift, in that you can pick something out that you love and think the other person will also love, but once you actually give it to them everything that happens with it is totally, 100% up to them. They can put that gift in a drawer and never look at it again. They can return it to the store. They can sell it on Craigslist. They can regift it to someone they think would like it better. They shouldn’t rub it in your face if they do this stuff,  and you could certainly feel some kind of way about it (and decide privately that they don’t deserve nice things in the future), but it’s bad manners to harp on whether they are using or enjoying a gift as much as you would like them to.

Your boyfriend probably would really enjoy The Wire if he gave it a chance, given what else you’ve told me about his taste, but now that he’s told you he’s not into it, every time you bring it up again you probably buy yourself another three years of him not watching it. Let him come to it on his own. Or, if you want to re-watch it now, watch it yourself. “Love me, love my obsession” (and its corollary: “You love my obsession, clearly you will love me!”) are among the Geek Relationship Fallacies that Commander Logic so handily identified. Your boyfriend is the sole boss of whether he wants to ever watch The Wire.

But, you had a deal, you say! You’d watch Buffy if he’d watch The Wire. Thing is, if you’d started watching Buffy and decided instantly that you hated it, you could have broken your part of that deal any time. And he did watch The Wire. He watched some of it and wasn’t in the mood for it, so he sensibly put it off for another time when he felt more like diving in.

I think we underestimate how much a piece of art or a viewing (or listening) experience is context-dependent. The first time I tried to watch Fargo (the TV series) I turned it off after 10 minutes. It just didn’t connect for me. Then I picked it up again last week and devoured it, not sleeping all Friday night because I couldn’t not know what happened. Plenty of people said I would love it, and they were all completely correct, but the combination of being in the right mood/having access/having time took a little while to blossom. Same with Orphan Black. The pilot didn’t grab me at first, but a year later Sweet Machine said something and I went back in and then I stayed in. I fucking hate Alan Moore’s Watchmen with the fiery intensity of 1,000 suns. It has little to do with the comic itself, which I have read and I get why it’s smart and why people love it. It has to do with every dude I met in a 15 year period trying to wheedle me into reading it, and when I said I had read it, try to wheedle me into loving it or argue with me about how I probably just didn’t get it. I GET IT (It’s about superheroes as uneasy manifestations of American power and exceptionalism, if you didn’t know) I JUST DON’T LOVE IT LIKE YOU DO, BRO. Pressure is the enemy of enjoyment.

This is a problem with your boyfriend if he has a habit of always breaking promises, or if you always end up watching his stuff but he never watches your stuff. But the problem is how you negotiate what you watch, not someone’s obligation to engage with a certain piece of media past the point where it’s pleasurable for them. Maybe it’s a good time to find some new shows that neither of you have watched before to dig into?

Molly Solverson, from FX's Fargo

My favorite TV detective of late.

Since we are talking, there are a few things that Geeky Fans (like myself! I am including myself in this!) have to stop doing to each other when we talk about media at parties, online, or other social situations.

1. “What do you mean you haven’t seen Star Wars?”

We will never be able to experience all the good art and entertainment that has ever been made. Our lives aren’t long enough. If someone hasn’t seen (big cultural touchstone creation) they’ve just had a different life from you, with different priorities, different stuff they love, and possibly different access to media. This is true especially as we age. The stuff that was a Big Deal to me as I came of age isn’t a big deal to people who came after me, and the stuff that was a Big Deal to them passed under my radar. When students come into my classes I love to hear about their favorite movies and give them permission to talk about their favorite movies, and we have a rule: No making fun of anyone else’s favorite movies, for any reason, and no making fun of someone for not having seen a specific movie. You’ll never get someone to feel good about the stuff you love by treating them like they are deficient for not loving it already. The miracle of living when we do is that so many works are so widely and easily available and it’s possible to catch up on old works in a way that it never has been before. Embrace it!

2. “That thing you like SUCKS!” 

I am personally very tired of the dominance display around “proving” to someone that a thing they’ve just said they enjoy “objectively” “sucks.” What is the point of this exactly? Not “there are some problematic elements there” or “it’s not my jam because” reasons” but “Are you serious? You really like that? But it SUCKS.” It’s one of the things that makes certain geek spaces and especially the comments sections of internet geek spaces really boring and uncomfortable for me, because so often the subtext is “YOU suck” or “I am angry at that work and going to take it out on YOU, at length.” We all have our bugaboos, and a good rant among close friends can be hilarious and cleansing (ask me about the movie adaptation of RENT sometime), but know your crowd and the occasion. Make sure the person even wants to be talking to you at all before you dive in with your hate-guns a-blazing.

Stella Gibson from The Fall

A close second in “my favorite TV detective” sweepstakes, points for a flawless blouse game + allergy to slut-shaming.

3. “You don’t like x? But X is GREAT! You simply MUST read or watch it!” 

Here’s what MUST happen. We MUST let “I don’t watch it” or “It didn’t really grab me” be the last word on that topic and not try to browbeat people into changing their minds. If someone says “I get why it’s popular, but I couldn’t get past the RaceFail,” before you say anything else, acknowledge their right to feel how they feel. Maybe ask them, “Do you want to talk more about that, or should we find a new topic?” to gauge their energy level for a discussion. If the person says, “It’s not my thing, but what do you love about it?” they are giving you a gift at that point, so make your case in a few sentences and then STOP. There is a place for passionate discussions, but those need to be entered into with mutual consent.

In my classes, one of the things we try to do is to push past “I liked it”/”I didn’t like it” as reactions to work. What is it? What is it trying to be? Is it good at being that thing? Was that a good thing to try to be in the first place? Did the artist have a specific agenda? How did it play with audiences at the time? Does it play the same way now? What stereotypes does it reinforce/undermine? That can be a very rich place to have a discussion if everyone is on board, but you don’t get there with “How dare you not have seen or not like what I like?” And keep in mindI’m not talking about writing criticism. Write & critique all you want! There is a lot of work to be done there! I’m not talking about activism. #HashtagAway! I am talking about conversations about media with our peers in our leisure time, where liking the same creative work CAN connect us but shouldn’t HAVE TO.

So, Letter Writer, thanks for the opportunity to discuss this, but leave your boyfriend alone about The Wire. He’ll come to it or not in his own sweet time.

 

 

 

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372 comments
  1. Stephanie said:

    Oh man. At first I was almost convinced that my husband switched out genders, etc. and wrote this letter. He thinks The Wire is the best television show ever (either that or Breaking Bad) and while I was in the room sometimes when he was watching it, it never caught my fancy enough to sit down and plow through all the seasons. He will not let me forget this.

    Fast forward – Amazon Prime now has all the HBO shows! INCLUDING THE WIRE!!! I think, okay, instead of having to waste a Netflix DVD for 3 episodes at a time and drib and drab through it, maybe now that I can stream it all at once, I will. Have I yet? NO. I need to be in the mood, and frankly, I know I’m getting into a multi-season odyssey, and I just need to work up the gumption. PLUS, my husband has said he wants to watch it with me! I can’t plow through episodes while he’s out of town for the weekend! Jesus criminy, man.

    Anyway, that was me barfing out my angst over the same show. What I really want to say is that this reminds me of John Hodgman (via his podcast Judge John Hodgman), who has a thing that you can’t make people like something they don’t, and people like what they like. Incidentally, he has a deal with his wife that if she reads & likes the GoT books, he’ll finally watch Friday Night Lights – I think he’s insane for not having seen it already, and OMG he will probably love it! But, he is also an adult with his own tastes and who makes his own decisions. Maybe someday he’ll get to it, and his wife can roll her eyes and say I TOLD YOU SO.

    And I’m sure someday my husband will be able to do the same thing about The Wire. The LW is free to do that at me as well!

    • Actually one big thing when I’m talking to my American friends is that… we don’t get all those same shows. I have no idea if Friday Night Lights has ever aired here. Most of the time if we do get a show we’ll be months behind unless the networks are 110% sure that people really desperately want it (so Dr Who might be only three weeks behind, whereas American Idol we get in a couple of days, for some reason). Torchwood aired about half of the second season at 11pm on a Wednesday night without advertising it. Usually, the only way I can watch the same shows is if I hear about them, hear what they’re about, and then the crucial part, download them. I’m led to believe that bandwidth is not much of an issue in America. Here, it’s the main factor that affects internet pricing, and internet is ridiculously expensive due to telecommunications infrastructure previously having been run as a monopoly. (It’s a duopoly or something now, I think.) I live with one other person and we get 50GB/month, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to track our total data use so it’s basically just “best guess”. So, no, I’m very unlikely to download five seasons of a tv show with 20 episodes each season unless it’s really going to be worthwhile. Obviously this doesn’t apply to people who live in the same house, but when it’s international friendships it can definitely be a factor.

      • spook11 said:

        As I read your comments I thought, wow that sounds just like where I live – and of course it is here you are talking about. I cancelled sky a few years ago and watch most of my telly online, and so most of what I watch is based on things I stumble across (like Salamader which is Belgian and a complete fluke that I happened upon it). This post has given me names of shows that I never heard of before (Orphan Black) so I will check them out. Oh how I wish that internet speed and prices were like those in America or anywhere but here :(

      • Flynn said:

        I’m guessing you’re in New Zealand too :D

        Try something like NetWorx to track bandwidth usage – there are various free programs out there, and they save SO much drama when it comes to accusing people of downloading 30GB in a month and causing us to go over our limit and end up with major extra fees. Your provider *should* also have some kind of usage graph online, though it may vary.

        (We’re currently on 80GB for three people and it works fine… for two of us. The third is consistently sending us over our limit).

  2. Reblogged this on thebiobabe and commented:
    “Pressure is the enemy of enjoyment.”
    “In my classes, one of the things we try to do is to push past “I liked it”/”I didn’t like it” as reactions to work. What is it? What is it trying to be? Is it good at being that thing? Was that a good thing to try to be in the first place? Did the artist have a specific agenda? How did it play with audiences at the time? Does it play the same way now? What stereotypes does it reinforce/undermine? That can be a very rich place to have a discussion if everyone is on board, but you don’t get there with “How dare you not have seen or not like what I like?” And keep in mind, I’m not talking about writing criticism. Write & critique all you want! There is a lot of work to be done there! I’m not talking about activism. #HashtagAway! I am talking about conversations about media with our peers in our leisure time, where liking the same creative work CAN connect us but shouldn’t HAVE TO.”
    ^ some of my favorite lines from this capt. awkward response

    • spook11 said:

      As soon as I read that line it was like an epiphany.

      • Right?! I thought it was perfect.

        • TerrynM said:

          I might pin it on my mirror its so perfect. I read it at least three times.

  3. Oh man this is such a topic people have to be careful of around me. I’m INCREDIBLY picky about what media I commit time and energy to consuming. (This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all high quality, I’ve watched plenty of that sort of mass appeal mainstream ridiculous tv just because it was fun and suited my mood at the time.) But, as one example, to this very day I loathe Supernatural with a fiery passion, because when the first season came out, the concept seemed like it was made just for me. At the time I had binders full of information on folk mythology and the stories people use to dictate behaviour (listen to your parents! don’t go off into that spooky marsh bc no one wants to mount a rescue mission! a ghost horse will drown you!). So I watched the first episode, and hated it. But my friends all thought it was perfect for me. “Just watch another one!” they would beg me. I ended up watching I think three separate episodes and hated ALL of them. And then every time I heard more about the direction the show was taking (fuckloads of Christianity, killing all the women, the entire Roanoke episode) it appealed less and less to me. And yet people would still try to convince me to just give it another go.

    Similarly I love politics and intrigue etc, but I won’t touch Game of Thrones with a ten foot pole. Any show that has entirely or almost entirely male leads is going to have to be astounding for me to enjoy it. Occasionally I’ll avoid reboots of old favourites just out of pettiness. Any of my friends that refuses to hear me when I say I don’t enjoy a show/aren’t interested/don’t have the time or bandwidth to be downloading more stuff are going to very quickly fall out of favour because even if the tv show itself doesn’t matter that much, people respecting my no on ANY subject is a boundary that’s hugely important to me.

    • Just for your information, Game of Thrones does not have a male-dominated cast of leads. The leads in the show are an even mix of male and female, possibly even a higher number of females. There are MANY women in very powerful positions on the show. *Of course* if you have other reasons not to want to watch Game of Thrones, that’s understandable, but I would hate for you to miss out on an amazing show because you were misinformed about it.

      • Yep – mostly men in the visible positions of power because of the fantasy medieval setting but certainly not therefore all male lead characters in the show. Female characters have plenty of agency which I like, most of the (extensive) nudity is female which I don’t like so much. I will say many of the people you first meet are men (in the first episode or so) but the character list expands fairly quickly from memory. Ahhh I need to go back and watch season one again now to refresh my memory. What fun.

      • cjben said:

        My roommate badgered me for *months* about Game of Thrones, despite my reservations over what I’d heard regarding sexual assault in the show etc. I did end up watching the show and liking it, but my reservations still stand, esp. after this past season. There were times where I just didn’t have it in me to watch something this triggering, and him trying to convince me that “it’s not as bad as people say” (when, yeah, it is) was NOT the way to go. Watching it on my own, when I could process all the good and bad stuff without the pressure of a superfan next to me waiting breathlessly for my approval of his favorite show, definitely made watching easier.

        • Xenophile said:

          One of the many reasons I have no interest in watching GoT is the careless way that a lots of fans discuss the sexual assault on that show. I’ve read interviews with the director and with GRRM in which they say all kinds of rape apologia, and the same people who are pushing pushing PUSHING me to watch it tend to respond to my concerns with variations of “Oh, you’re just too sensitive.”

          • Megan M. said:

            Yes. My husband and I started watching GoT together, and at first, all of the references to and scenes of sexual assault made me uncomfortable, but I could handle them. But this past season I finally cracked and after about the third episode of the season I stopped watching. My husband is frustrated and tells me how much great stuff I’m missing, but I’m not going back. There were a lot of things I loved on the show but it’s a relief not to be bombarded with sexual violence anymore.

          • SolitareLee said:

            Gosh, reading these comments has me really happy about how my friends and boyfriend handled GoT.
            Friend The Superfan: You should sooooo watch this show it’s awesome!
            BF & I: OK we will! *watches show*
            Me: *spends half an hour hyperventilating because WHERE THE FUCK DID THAT RAPE SCENE EVEN COME FROM*
            BF: I kind of liked it but you clearly do not want to watch it. If I watch it more it will be outside of your presence.
            Friend: Oh, man, that is a super valid reason! I am sorry it upset you.

            The end.

          • Myrin said:

            I hang out pretty much exclusively at at least feminist-adjacant spaces online so I actually only ever see intelligent analysis/criticism or a smackdown of the careless fans/executives mentioned by you and that is ALSO a reason to not watch it. I read way too much about all kinds of stuff I know I’d be highly sensitive about so there’s no way I’m ever even going to try it.

          • Baytree said:

            Yeah. One reason I haven’t watched the show (even though I love the books!) is that it seems like a lot of icky/violent stuff was put in intentionally to make it… idunno. More “exciting” for viewers?

          • DFTBAwkward said:

            I’m gonna say that sort of depends on what you think about the source material. **spoilers/sexual assault discussion ahead** The two biggest examples I can think of are the Dany/Drogo stuff and Cersei/Jaime. If you think Dany was capable of consenting to sex and everything between Cersei and Jaime is consensual, then you might have some issues with the show. But if you think Dany is incapable of consenting to sex with Drogo (at least in the beginning) and that there are definitely shades of grey in the Cersei and Jaime sept scene in book 3, then I don’t think you’ll have problems with the show’s characterization. I’m admittedly an outlier on this, but I am someone who has been reading the books since 2005, so way before the show, but I honestly prefer the show to the books. While GRRM is good about putting diverse characters in his works, I don’t think he necessarily represents them honestly or all that well. So I enjoy watching the show where I don’t have to read sentence after sentence describing the nipples of children or read all the fat jokes/gay jokes/women are stupid jokes that pop up in the narration. Instead of Brienne’s entire internal monologue being portrayed in the books as being upset about boys being mean to her or Dany’s entire book 5 plot line about ‘I’m sad that Daario won’t fuck me :(‘, I get to watch these characters actions on screen and come to my own conclusions over what’s going on inside. That feels a lot more realistic to me than GRRM’s internal narratives for many of the characters, which ring false and questionable to me. So I’m definitely not saying “omg definitely watch Game of Thrones!” because as we’re talking about in this thread, that’s not cool. :P Just wanted to chime in with a book reader’s perspective about how I see the differences, if you’re interested.

          • ioethe said:

            This is why i gave up watching it.

        • Kathyn said:

          I watched two episodes of GoT and the level of violence and sexual assault was way too high for me to ever try watching it again. I’m amazed by how invested some people seem to be in trying to get me to watch it anyway. It made me shaky and miserable, folks, that isn’t what I want from my leisure activities, no matter how pretty the actors / costumes / settings.

          • twomoogles said:

            As a big fan of GoT (well, more the books than the show) I find this so weird of the other fans. I guess it’s just that to me one of the huge things about ASOIAF/GoT is that it’s *not* for everybody, and it has loads of things that put people off. I really don’t think it’s the sort of thing I’d ever recommend to someone without a ton of caveats, and only then even if I knew their taste was likely to include. I mean…fans of the show talk all the time about how it’s really violent and way meaner than most fantasy…so I don’t understand why those same people would think everyone would like it? (Honestly I am kind of baffled by my own liking of it, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t read the books I wouldn’t actually enjoy it…)

          • miss_chevious said:

            I hear you on this one. I don’t have HBO, so I don’t watch GoT, but I had a similar reaction to Breaking Bad — it made me shaky and miserable and depressed afterwards. Some of my friends got on my case about it, but, dude, I don’t watch television so that I can be made to feel miserable. Television is for fun, and that fun can involve intense feelings, but BB poisoned my whole night and the following day. I was dreading it. *Dreading.* That’s when I stopped watching it.

            (And, strangely, I didn’t have this feeling about The Wire, or Fargo, or Hannibal. It’s like there was a subliminal signal in BB that was beaming “…not for you…” into my brain.)

      • The first three sentences of that paragraph were all separate statements, to be clear.

    • the invisible one said:

      “But my friends all thought it was perfect for me. ”

      I got that about The Big Bang Theory (watched one episode — well, most of one episode, until I stopped) and another one that I think is called Bones (ambient-listened to parts of several episodes while doing something else in the room while it was on). I can’t say I hate the latter, though I’d probably have to watch an episode to figure that out. Mostly just not interested by what I overheard, despite the insistence that it was perfect for me and obviously I’d love it!

      • Erin said:

        For me, this is like when friends have said “You are totally gonna like this person!” The first few times I trusted them, but time and time again they liked that person and saw some similarities to me, but I did not like them and was actually insulted several times by the comparison because, as it turned out, these people were also really mean. (Which hopefully doesn’t say that I am …)

        • twomoogles said:

          I’m like that, too, with “you’ll love this person”, especially from significant others for some reason. When my boyfriend and I started dating, he had just come out of a relationship with someone who was very jealous and controlling of his behaviour with female friends. So, he was really really invested in the idea that I *love* them. Unfortunately, this backfired as it tends to do. His friends were mostly people I had no problem with, but they weren’t really ‘my’ people, and we didn’t really click or have much in common. Oddly, (or not) the one exception was someone he didn’t have time to ‘talk up’ as we ran into her randomly. Also he has a much better read on whether or not I’ll like his guy friends, so the two we’ve spent the most amount of time with as a couple are people I quite like and one of them I even hang out with without him. I feel a bit guilty about this, as we spend much more time with the friends I met before him than the friends he met before me, though a lot of this is circumstance. And he’s also stopped doing the “no really you’ll love her so much” thing which is nice.

          • Erin said:

            Yeah, it can get pretty awkward, if people don’t accept the situation and roll with it.

      • I’m a fan of The Big Bang Theory but I know loads of people don’t like it (and the only reasons for that I can’t tolerate are the ones who use words like ‘blackface for nerds’ when talking about it. NO, STOP!). The Captain’s response to this letter made me think of an episode where Leonard decides that Penny will just LOVE Buffy, so they watch an episode together and he is wildly disappointed when her reaction is nothing more than ‘meh, it’s ok.’ He’s like ‘JUST ok??!’ or something to that effect. I thought that was very on point. Can’t remember how it resolved though. (Note- not replying to this comment in particular to try and get the invisible one to watch Big Bang Theory, just realised it might come off that way. Not at all, people can watch what they like.)

        • Xenophile said:

          What would be a better alternative to “blackface for nerds”? I 100% agree that it’s a completely inappropriate analogy, and yet…it sums up that particular aspect of TBBT very aptly. I’ve been struggling to find another way to phrase this without trivializing blackface.

          • Just talk/write about how you feel the show represents nerds negatively? I don’t know if there needs to be a term for it.

          • Violette said:

            I’ve been calling Big Bang Theory “a stupid person’s idea of what smart people are like,” which I think gets at the concept you want without trivializing racism.

          • SarahTheEntwife said:

            “Appropriation”, maybe? It’s representing a culture that the writers themselves don’t seem to self-identify with, and not in a way that is respectful to that group of people. But I’m not sure that’s quite the right word either.

          • Xenophile said:

            Yeah, it’s by non-nerds for non-nerds, based on cliches nerds may or may not use to describe themselves. It’s not perpetuating oppression, though, so I don’t want to word it super strongly.

          • It’s a disingenuous representation of an already-disliked social group, and since the joke is that it’s true, nerds are like this, and that’s funny, the whole show is a mean joke. And on top of that, the audience is tricked into thinking they’re laughing WITH the nerds, but when a real-life nerd shows up, it turns out they’ve been laughing AT them the whole time. And that sucks for the audience, too. It doesn’t have to be oppressive for “disingenuous” and “laughing at people” to not really be okay. It’s mean. That’s bad enough for me.

          • How about “nerdsploitation”?

  4. Phira said:

    My partner and I trade favorite TV shows and movies. There’s an explicit understanding that if someone is really NOT into a show or movie, it’s entirely okay for them to say, “Sorry, I’m just really not enjoying this, I’d like to stop.” There’s also the explicit agreement that it’s okay for us to not love each other’s media as long as we don’t dump on it. So far, we’ve watched through everything and haven’t stopped halfway through, but I know which shows and movies he didn’t like, and he knows which shows and movies I didn’t like (sorry, folks, I just really didn’t get the West Wing). We’re sensitive to each other’s feelings–he thinks Castle is terrible, but he doesn’t make me feel like I have terrible taste because I enjoy it.

    In my last relationship, my boyfriend was insistent–annoyingly so!–that I watch Firefly and Serenity. He went on at length about how amazing the show and movie were, and how this piece of media was really, really important to him. He wanted to make a deal with me to get me to watch it. I said I’d watch it if he played Ocarina of Time, a piece of media that was really, really important to me. He promised. I upheld my end; he dragged his feet for months on his end and finally told me he wasn’t going to play the game. I was really hurt.

    The thing is, it’s okay to trade media. But to avoid hurt feelings, always remember: Anyone can opt out (including you!), you’re entitled to your own opinions, don’t agree to something you can’t uphold (if you know you hate playing video games, don’t agree to play one!), and leave people alone when they say, “I don’t really want to watch/play that.”

  5. Ellen Fremedon said:

    While I like the Captain’s guidelines for media discussions in general, I am getting kind of a bad vibe from the letter– specifically, this bit:

    I tried to get him to give Game of Thrones a try, but he was turned off by the fantasy setting. Several months later, he must have encountered something that made it finally sound interesting, because he’s now a huge fan of the show and we gush over new episodes together. The same thing happened with Deadwood, I wanted to watch it together but he wasn’t into it, and then he ended up watching all of it by himself sometime later and loved it.

    This could well mean that boyfriend just wasn’t in the right headspace for those shows the first time he tried them, but it could also be a sign that boyfriend is That Dude who can only act on suggestions once a man has made them. (Any man. Even That Dude himself.)

    LW, does your boyfriend show other signs of being That Dude? Does he automatically discount your (or other women’s) opinions in other matters? Has he ever followed up one of your recommendations, for media or for anything else?

    If he’s generally willing to listen to your advice and opinions, and this is solely about The Wire, then the Captain’s advice is solid. If this is part of a larger pattern, then you have a much larger problem.

    • Ellen Fremedon said:

      Argh, and I just reread the letter and realized I was making assumptions about LW’s gender. LW, I apologize if I’ve misgendered you. (Though, regardless of LW’s gender, if boyfriend is consistently dismissive of LW’s opinions that is still a problem.)

    • I got the same vibe from this letter. Like, maybe things are ok and it’s all just a coincidence, but maybe it’s a sign that the boyfriend specifically doesn’t want to watch things because it’s LW that suggested them.

      • Muse142 said:

        “maybe it’s a sign that the boyfriend specifically doesn’t want to watch things because it’s LW that suggested them” — THIS IS THE LITERAL EXACT THOUGHT THAT I HAD. And judging by this comment thread, I’m not the only one…. nor am I the only one who’s dated one of Those Guys.

        • I had the same thought as well.

          • DaFunk said:

            I also had that impression. It sounds like boyfriend resists anything that LW suggests because LW suggested it, based on the pattern of behavior, and LW knows this but doesn’t want it to be so, lest they have to confront deeper seated issues in/with boyfriend. I think LW needs to call him out on this pattern, with examples, and say how and why it hurts their feelings.

      • I didn’t necessarily get strong vibes of that from the actual letter (though it is a possibility), but the Captain’s responses made me think of a guy I used to be friends with when I was super into metal and hanging around with lots of metalheads, of which he was one. He wanted to show me new bands all the time, and lend me their CDs etc, and yet whenever I tried to show him a band he never even seemed slightly interested…until he discovered them separately, on his own terms, and then he wanted to tell me all about how great they were. It was hard to deal with, especially as he also had a bad habit of making fun of me for liking bands he thought were bad. Like, making fun of me for a long time and not stopping when I asked him to. And also, a lot of the time he wanted to introduce me to bands I’d have been much happier just talking with him instead of listening to half a song in one earbud which I couldn’t hear properly anyway because of surrounding noise. It’s hard to judge music like that, but he always wanted my positive approval of his taste anyway.

        So yeah, to the commenter below who is very dismissive of people who watch and enjoy TV, this dynamic persists in all kinds of other things you can be a fan of.

        • monologue said:

          Ugh, I have also known a few music fans like this. The thing where he doesn’t take your recommendation but comes around to like that band later would be ok (if annoying for you) on it’s own, but coupled with all the shaming of things you like and forced listening of things he likes it becomes totally gross.

          This comment was helpful to me because actually two people I’m close to right now don’t force me to listen to their music or anything, but they think that music is objectively good or bad so when I play a song (in their presence, not looking for their comment or approval) or mention a band, they think that’s an invitation to deem it objectively good or bad. If it’s deemed bad then they don’t tell me I can’t like it, but they do think it’s ok to pick it apart at length while expecting me to agree with their points or accept their disdain. Your comment somehow reminded me I’m allowed to find that annoying and ask to end the conversation.

    • My ex was that guy. He would discount my recommendations so readily that sometimes I would challenge it, but eventually gave up. One of the most frustrating ones was Firefly. When I brought it up, he said he had seen it and hated it (HOW?!) so, I was persistent because it is one of my favourite TV shows for all time and, despite getting him to watch the pilot, he didn’t watch any more which, which bummed me out but I accepted it.
      Later, after we broke up, he got badgered into watching it by a friend and then told me that he loved it. (We are still on good terms)
      His explanation was that the first time he watched it, it was in the weird order that Fox released it in. But he didn’t realise that there was a proper order to it. And also that he didn’t want to love the things that I loved because “they were your things that you loved and I didn’t want to barge in on the things you loved. ” (but it is so much better to shaaaaaaaare those things *whinge*) But, the point still stands that he did it to me all the time.

      Food was especially bad, he would refuse to try a food, but when a friend introduced him to it, he would love it and I would find out by the way of:
      “I was thinking about making X, but I think you said you hated it?”
      “I love X!”
      “Since when?”
      “Since friend and I had lunch/dinner/breakfast together and I had it there.”
      “But you told me you didn’t want to try it the other day because you hated it.”
      “Oh, I did? I’m sorry.” And he would be genuinely sorry, but he also didn’t change. Possibly because I didn’t like to do the thing where you bring up those moments to embarrass them into remembering the ‘lesson’ they learned.
      But that subconscious dismissal of my opinions and recommendations was really horrible for my emotional welbeing and it simply showed that he didn’t value my opinion.

      • Polychrome said:

        Yeah — my ex was on a downward spiral of this before dumping me (note — I am not prognosticating anything about the LW’s relationship, just telling my story that this comment thread has prompted me to think about!). The last bit of it, at the very very end, was him sooooooooper reluctantly agreeing to drive around Santa Barbara, California with me (we were visiting LA) and, like, I know it is really rich and etc. but it is so, so, so amazingly pretty and he just was so determined to be like “this worthless idea of yours about how to spend the afternoon is so worthless” that he sort of couldn’t allow himself to react to any of it but then at the very end said, “it wasn’t what I expected”. Because it was pretty impossible to say, “well THAT was completely crap”.

        okay now that I am writing it down it is a little bit of a funny story. yay the healing power of time.

        • Anothermous said:

          Aw, I grew up in Santa Barbara, so if you ever go back, put it on CA and I’ll tell you all the best places to eat. ;)

          Boo on your ex; there are some fantastic places in SB. :p

          • Polychrome said:

            LUCKY YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Orion said:

          A friend’s ex was once so determined not to like a comedian we recommend that he resorted to saying “this is just good jokes delivered well” in a tone of voice that implied criticism.

    • Although I didn’t do the gender identification, I did get the feeling that the BF dismisses what the LW says. The fact that he REPEATEDLY later discovers he likes those shows gives me bad vibes. Every single show the LW likes, he hates until he watches it with someone else? One or two I get, all of them makes me feel like this is a power struggle on his part, and he’s “winning”. Plus the fact that he watched on of the series without the LW is odd. Once he found out he liked it, he couldn’t watch it with the LW. Something feels off here.

      • Digital Sidhe said:

        I agree. Particularly the bit about: it’s not just the way he won’t take LW’s recommendations, but will take other people’s, it’s also the fact that, when he does decide he likes one of LW’s shows, he then goes and watches it solo, without the LW?

        What the heck is up with that? LW is trying to share great stuff with him, and he’s blocking that? Why?

        • TO_Ont said:

          Isn’t it waaaaay more fun to watch something new alone than with someone who loves it sitting there watching your reactions, though? That’s very very hard to enjoy, or to form your own independent opinions about.. And what if you don’t enjoy it? It’s a lot like reading a book — personally I’d totally want to read it alone in that situation.

          It seems like he’s listened to his/her advice, then waited a little while until they stopped bugging him about it and watched it, and even told LW he liked it (yes! you were right, it is great!). Isn’t that exactly what LW wanted?

          • Xenophile said:

            Yeah, it’s very hard to enjoy a series with someone hovering over your shoulder asking, “Do you like it? Do you like it? Do you like it?” or trying to explain every single detail. Or maybe he just wanted to pay attention without getting distracted by conversation. I can’t watch Twin Peaks with other people because I end up talking to them instead of paying attention to Special Agent Cooper’s knowing facial expressions.

          • Slow Media Watcher Person said:

            Definitely. My best friend is a media fiend and flies through TV shows, movies and music, whereas I am fully capable of watching a single episode of a TV show on repeat for four months. Watching a new movie from scratch can take me half a year. She is constantly full of recommendations but it can sometimes take me months to work up the psychological energy to dive into a new piece of media–and when I do, I usually don’t tell her I have until I’m completely done because I don’t want to disappoint her if I stop halfway through. I don’t know why I do this. Watching a TV show shouldn’t be so hard, but it totally is for me.

            I do NOT just dismiss her likes. I would never, ever say something like, “Ew, you like ____? How can you like that?” And I will gladly listen to her talk about her media. But if I’m going to watch it, too, I need to do it on my own schedule, and being interrogated about where I am on my path towards watching something is not gonna help.

          • Deird said:

            Totally. I hate watching new shows with people who’ve seen them before. It makes me feel self-conscious – like, while I’m watching the show, they’re just watching me.

          • Totally agree.

            While there could certainly be some not so good reasons for boyfriend seeking stuff out on his own after getting a recommendation, it could very much be wanting to process stuff on his own and avoid the distraction–and pressure!–of his partner’s expectations while viewing. Especially if LW is kind of intense about sharing stuff, which it sounds like they are.

          • digitalsidhe said:

            The thing is, when they watch his shows, they watch them together. And the togetherness does seem to be much of what LW actually wanted. S/he writes:

            Basically, there are several shows that I love dearly and want to share with him. [emphasis added] He’s done the same for me – He’s a huge fan of Joss Whedon so we are working our way through the Whedonverse. We’ve completed Buffy and Angel and are now on the second season of Dollhouse.

            The phrasing of “we are working our way through…” and so on strongly implies that they watched/are watching these things together.

            Now, maybe the boyfriend hates watching a new thing with an old fan (like many other commenters in this thread do — and I totally respect that preference) and the LW doesn’t mind it at all. In which case, there shouldn’t be any problem. But given that there is a problem… I dunno.

          • Jane said:

            Oh yeah. And to be honest, I prefer to do the vast majority of my media consumption alone, PARTICULARLY if it’s something I really like. If it’s something I know I’m going to feel mediocre about, then sure, bring on the other people to jazz it up with laughter and in-jokes! But if someone was like, “Here is this brand-new humorous epic urban fantasy TV show written by Neil Gaiman, Tamora Pierce (who doesn’t do TV writing, but whatever), and Diane Duane,” for example, there is NO WAY I would feel generous enough to share my first-time watching joy with ANYONE. *hoards all the joy for self*

          • miss_chevious said:

            Maybe he could use his words to tell her that he’d rather start alone, though. I agree that someone watching me watching a show they love could be super annoying, but I think the best solution to that is to say “I feel pressured to like this. Can I watch some of it alone and get back to you?” Because that way, if I like it, we can start watching it together, but if I don’t, I don’t have to reveal my dislike in real time.

          • SarahTheEntwife said:

            Huh, wow, I’m completely different form most of the other commenters here — I like watching something with someone who’s watched it before.

        • Yolanda said:

          I find watching something for the first time with someone who really loves it and is keen for me to watch and love it too rather stressful and anxiety-inducing. It’s a lot of pressure and feels unpleasant and awkward. I’d always prefer to watch on my own. So I don’t think the boyfriend’s behavior is strange at all in that regard. (Actually, I don’t think there’s anything strange or bad about the boyfriend’s behavior as described at all, but it’s possible I am over-identifying).

          • MrsMorley said:

            Yes! So much this.

            Reading things on others recommendations is fine. Watching with them, not so much

          • Phoebastria said:

            Yes, I do sometimes feel like if I don’t like that parts they think I’ll like, that not only will I disappoint them, but it also means I’m watching it wrong.

        • Muse142 said:

          I see that others disagree, but my tendencies are more like yours, Sidhe. Watching Something Together is, for me, a shared experience. I love being able to turn to someone just after the credits roll and go “OMG THAT THING”
          and I find it even better when that person goes “OMG I KNOW, THE THINGGGGGG” and then we talk about it for the next half hour.

          I can’t imagine being put off or stressed out by the presence of someone who loves the thing I’m watching… as I suppose the other commenters can’t imagine ENJOYING that. Diff’rent strokes, y’know?

          • thegirlfrommarz said:

            I love watching something together with people if we’re both watching it for the first time and would have the same kind of “oh my god that thing!” conversations too. However, if the other person has recommended a programme to me and then as we were watching it seems to be anticipating my reactions, I find that a bit too much pressure!

            I mean, I’ve *been* the “oh my god this bit is so great my friend will totally love it do they love it do they” person too, so I get how much we want to share things we love with friends, but I think it can feel weirdly pressuring.

          • Rana said:

            I enjoy that… sometimes. But there have been times when I just wanted to watch the thing, and enjoy having watched the thing, and let it sit happily untouched by critical thought in my brain for a while. When I’m that mood, being with someone who wants to talk about it – especially if the talking includes critiquing parts of it, even in a spirit of mutual enjoyment – can be really unpleasant.

      • charmed.omega said:

        Seconded

      • Repeatedly? Three are identified: BSG, which he never goes back to, GoT which they “now gush about together” (which may or may not mean they watch it together, and we have no indication whether he caught up w/o LW) and Deadwood which he watched on his own. But we have no idea what their life situation is or if they live together etc.

        But it does bring me to one possibility – maybe he likes to watch things differently than LW, particularly if it’s binge-ish. My wife would apparently implode if she had to stop doing other things while watching tv. Looking at her phone, putzing around, whatever. She’s cool with missing bits here and there; we were on a long drive together and if something happened to cause us to miss a line in the book on tape, whatever. On my own that would NEVER fly – I’d pause it and rewind. She’ll fall asleep during the middle of something and just go back to it another day. Which in the early days of our relationship meant that if we rented a movie I’d get to see the second half of them twice. Oh YAY.

        So we find ways to cope. We tend to watch shorter stuff together, don’t start movies later in the evening, etc. Honestly, at 10+ years together and with a toddler it’s a near miracle when we get 30 minutes together in the same place and want to spend it on tv, so who cares?

        LW is free to have whatever deal-breakers s/he wants, and if boyfriend’s behavior is dismissive in other ways then that’s a whole other matter. But in my experience combined media viewing doesn’t consume so much couple time than it’s important to watch each other’s obsessions. There’s SO MUCH STUFF out there anyway, pushing each other to watch things you’re not really into is just a recipe for wasted time (in my not so humble opinion).

        • J. Preposterice said:

          Mr Hypotenuse and I still have difficulties with our different media-watching styles, and different tolerances for various subject matters. In particular, I am MUCH more likely to have anxiety-type reactions and nightmares based on realistic-style dramas, and to have MUCH more negative reactions to poor treatment of female characters. I also run out of mental energy for following a plot more easily, and don’t like marathoning episodes of things with a continuing plot arc (like Game of Thrones).

          And I really really hate having things (any media, but especially books) recommended to me.

          What I’m saying is that you’re 100% correct, and that every relationship needs to find its own common ground and ways to mesh styles. (For us, this has turned out to be 1-hour standup specials, which we figured out like…a month ago. We’ve been together 17 years. Sometimes it takes a while, is what I am saying.)

      • arkadyrose said:

        Some people just prefer to watch stuff alone instead of with the distraction of other people around. You don’t know all the circumstances – maybe LW is an appalling person to watch something with, who talks constantly through the whole thing! I had a housemate who completely turned me off the new Dr Who stuff because she WOULD. NOT. SHUT. UP. EVER. So I just found reasons not to be in the room when Dr Who came on, and as a result I have very little interest in it. On the rare occasion I do get into something, I’d far rather watch it by myself in my own time.

        • Lily said:

          But if the bf wanted to watch solo, he wouldn’t have suggested to watch *his* shows together.

          • But he’s already watched them once. .(But yeah, more meta processing of viewing style preference might help them mesh better.)

            My bf watches TV while he works out, so it has been a relief for us whenever he finds a series he likes and I don’t!

    • chinchilla said:

      I read that bit too and felt a bit sad, but I also hope that it’s just a headspace thing for LW’s boyfriend. My darthy ex/”best friend” used to do this with all things; books, tv shows, music, food. He’d sneer at them and then when someone else came along who was someone he wanted to impress (ie another dude or a girl he wanted to get with) he’d be all over it, and would completely ‘forget’ about the previous sneering when I brought it up.

      So I totally get why LW is feeling hurt, regardless of whether their boyfriend is being a jerk or not.

    • Courtney said:

      Jumping on the bandwagon of also noticing this vibe from the LW’s letter.

    • Xenophile said:

      TBH, I had the opposite response. I thought that showed that the boyfriend is willing to change his mind and the LW isn’t giving him credit for it.

      • TO_Ont said:

        Personally, I am not really used to the idea of pushing people to watch or read something. for me it actually would feel quite intrusive if someone tried to insist I watch or read something specific. And if I got a vibe that someone’s recommendations were more than just information for me to take and do what I wanted with, if I felt pressure to do what they say, I’d feel very uncomfortable and would probably not feel much like doing it.

      • TO_Ont said:

        Yes, this is how I read the letter. He took LW’s advice and tried it, and came back and said so. Basically ‘yup, you were right and I was wrong’, if not in those words.

    • JB said:

      I got this feeling, too, although a slightly different variation. My mom is like this, but it isn’t that it has to come from a man. The suggestion basically can’t come from anyone else in the family. I won’t get into family dynamics and the way she was raised, but she has said to me that “when people give you suggestions, they are calling you stupid.” (She freely gives unsolicited advice, by the way, so she must think I’m reaaally stupid).

      I don’t think she believes that about everyone, but she certainly seems to believe it about us family members. Although come to think of it, she’ll take suggestions from my brother. But not anyone else. It has to be her own idea, or something she heard about from a friend or the internet.

      I love my mom to bits, but this part of her drives me crazy.

    • dfwl said:

      Yes, this was what I was thinking also on reading this letter. Probably let The Wire go, and pushing really does make it seem like a chore, but the whole “boyfriend repeatedly watches and enjoys stuff when the recommendation comes from other people” is somewhat side eye-inducing.

      Also agree that it would be good to look at the whole relationship for other signs that there is give and take. For example, does he often get you to do what he wants when you go out together? Say you’re picking a movie to see, and he keeps shooting down your suggestions, but you’re willing to see movies that he suggests which just sound “okay” to you. Does he want you to hang out with his friends/come to his game nights etc. but doesn’t want to see your friends, possibly with some excuse like “We don’t have a lot in common” “You guys always talk about X” “I’m pretty bored doing Y”? Are you open to participating in his hobbies/interests, but he doesn’t want to do the same for you? Does he also make judgmental or jokey-negative comments about your tastes? Of course it’s one thing if he is fine with the two of you mainly having separate spheres of friends/interests, then you do things you both like when you’re together. It’s another if he is very eager for you to share the things he likes, but always has some reason why he can’t/won’t participate in the things you like/take your recommendations. From the fact that you two made a deal to watch each others’ shows, it sounds like he has some interest in that. I hope he tries to be fair in other aspects of the relationship.

    • meek-bookworm said:

      This could be a That Dude thing, but I’ve passed on recommendations for things that I’ve later binge watched/read quite often.

      Sometimes it’s because I don’t think the person who’s telling me about new thing is considering me as opposed to just gushing about new thing (I’ll almost certainly pass it up if new thing is rather mainstream and/or something I’ve chosen to avoid before). Sometimes the way the first person describes something just isn’t interesting, but second or third person will use different words (kinda like the challenge where people who’ve never seen an episode try to write fic based on fandom osmosis–different things tend to be emphasized depending on the origin). Sometimes it’s because I’m not interested on a week to week basis, but if I’m in the mood for a weekend of binge watching I’ll remember Z loved Y and see if it’s available. Sometimes person Z has too many things they think I’ll love. Sometimes it is just the wrong time when I try it.

      I don’t see anything wrong with boyfriend not taking media recommendations, especially for TV shows he may feel pressured to like (I especially hate “keep going it doesn’t get good until season X”) and which would require a large outlay of time to watch. Him watching Deadwood on his own also makes sense to me because I assume by the time he got around to watching it LW already did. He watched an episode of The Wire–how much does he need to watch to have acted on her request? Three episodes (three hours)? A season (13 hours)? Three seasons (39 hours)?

      For what it’s worth, there may be hope he will come back to The Wire even if he isn’t in the mood currently. I have The Cryptonomicon right next to my bed (where it’s been for the past six months). I know I’ll love it, but I’m just not in the mood yet. Regardless, no one can tell me what I like, and I’m not obligated to do anything just because someone thinks I’ll like it.

      • Beth B said:

        Yes to all of this. For me, too, there are a very small number of friends in the Solid Recommendations For Me category, who either know very well what I do and don’t like in media, or who like very similar things, or both. If they tell me, “I really think you’ll like this!” I know that odds are very good they’re right. (Not 100%, but very good.) And then there are a lot of other friends who just experience media in different ways or like very different aspects, and their recommendations aren’t as reliable — not because I like them any less, not becuase they like me any less, not because their recommendations aren’t genuinely meant, but because they like X aspect better or they don’t notice Y aspect that will make me bounce off or whatever. Some of these latter ones are very close friends, but they just experience media differently than I do. So if I’m hearing good things about a show/movie/etc, but I’m not sure, I might go to one of the first category people and say, “Hey, have you watched Thing? Would I like it?”

        And sometimes the answer is “Yes! You would, I think!” and sometimes the answer is “I loved it! You’ll hate it, it’s full of X and Y and Z.”

        • If I want to watch something new I tend to crowdsource recommendations. Like “friends I want tv! [list of preferences]” and see if anything gets suggested multiple times. If several friends think I’ll like something when they’ve just been reminded of what’s important to me they’ve generally been right.

      • bloodygranuaile said:

        I very rarely *pass* on recommendations, but they go on the Stuff I Should Read/Watch/Listen To list, and that list is loooooooooooong, like years long. So then it becomes a question of priorities. If one person pushes really hard on a thing? It tends to do down the list of priorities, due to annoyance. If multiple, more-or-less unconnected people recommend a thing (but none of them are jerks about it)? That will usually pique my curiosity and move it further up on the list. (I wonder if maybe that’s one thing that’s up with the BF–I can’t tell if he’s being all “I’ll take recs from anyone except my stupid girlfriend” or if it’s “one rec isn’t enough to push me to watch something but if multiple people rec it then maybe it really does have my name all over it”.)

        • Northlight said:

          Yeah, the fastest way to get me to not watch/read something is to push about it. I have the first couple of books in the GoT series hanging out on my ereader but haven’t gotten to them in years because they’re now negatively associated with a few people pushing heavily on them. My friend who mentioned once that I’d love Doctor Who? I will love that woman until the day I die for introducing me to something I REALLY enjoy.

      • olives said:

        Exactly this! Partner recommends movies to me frequently, but doesn’t always think to couch it in the way I’d understand as being something I’d totally watch. Take Pacific Rim, which he explained to me as “it’s monsters fighting robots! how could you NOT want to watch that??” Oddly, that description didn’t appeal to me! A week later, the Internet explains to me that 1. Mako Mori, 2. Guillermo del Toro, and 3. Mako Mori!! And suddenly I come back to him saying, “We should go see Pacific Rim!” And we went, and had a lovely time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did he.

        So I have a lot of sympathy for the doesn’t-take-media-recommendations-from-partner angle – I love my partner dearly, and he’s a wonderful person, but tailoring media recommendations is just really not his strong suit. (I think the previous movie he’d recommended we see was Battleship. Still haven’t seen that to this day.) We generally get around this by being enthusiastic for each other’s interests when they diverge, and once upon a time long ago explicitly had a discussion in which turning your nose up at partner’s choices is Not Okay, even if they’re not to your personal preference. And when for whatever reason our preferences DO overlap, we get excited because we have more things we can share together!

        There’s no right way to do this. From reading through this thread, it looks like people have widely, widely varying feelings ranging over their particular media preferences to whether they like getting media recommendations, period. And all of these are okay stances and I don’t think any particular stance is sufficient to indicate that a person is a rat bastard who doesn’t respect other people’s taste.

        Unless, of course, upon getting an enthusiastic recommendation, they turn around and explain why your taste is wrong, subtlely or overtly. That, in my book, goes way past what’s okay. Everything in between? It’s navigable. People make it work. =)

    • BB said:

      (LW- probably not your case, but…..)I am reminded me of the weirdest vacation of my life, with a friend in Barcelona. We are both pretty independent women, and knew we’d be going it alone for the largest part of the vacation, but boy was she dismissive at every single suggestion I made. I noticed scowling and eye rolling. I suggested maybe some drinks or dancing (she took salsa lessons and went to clubs for 8 years) she says she always hated dancing. Okay…..

      She looked at a guide and enthusiastically read about a great park featuring a few incredible museums, and after “I said yeah- I went and it was incredible…” she cut me off with a “Meh, it looks boring”, and rolled her eyes. Another day, I mentioned a Spanish guitar concert at a beautful old hall, and she said Ehhhh and snarled her lip, cringing. That was enough for me. I gave up. She hated making plans, the only option she offered was following her around doing what she wanted to do at the spur of the moment. I preferred being loose, but had ground to cover, and she was relentlessly negative with everything I suggested. Too dicey.

      Days later, she excitedly suggested the Spanish guitar concert, she suddenly loooves Spanish guitar, and I said “That show was last night, and you scowled at me when I suggested getting tickets two days ago!” She denied any of these conversations took place at all. Suggested that I was perhaps imagining it. Say whut? Completely denied there was any cringing and eye rolling going on. I know she prides herself on being a spur of the moment person, and believes herself to be the person most martyred to her work and therefore we all always do her thing. But damn, not one night out at a bar or club in Barcelona? Not one shared experience? Actually she did try a bit. Left a post it once in our hotel room around midnight telling me where she was going out.

      When we were getting ready to check out, I was packed and ready to go, and decided I was indeed spending an extra 30-40$ on a cab instead of the bus, so I could have an extra 90 minutes, because I adored the city. As I walked out the door for my solo breakfast, she stopped me saying- “Hey- don;t we have to get on the bus very soon?”. I said I am taking a cab in 90 minutes and walked out. She looked a bit shocked.

      Okay, it’s not you and partner, LW, I just needed to vent, and there’s never been a good venue before.
      Thanks Awkwardeers, you guys rock hard.

    • neverjaunty said:

      This is a good point, but it could also be a power issue in the other direction.

      I have been that person who has had SOs or friends insist I *must* watch/read/experience X thing, even if I kinda wasn’t interested or in the mood or whatever, and if it turned out I liked it even a little, that was triumphant proof that I had been a fool not to listen to them and glom on enthusiastically the first time they brought it up. Which of course led to more badgering whenever I didn’t display a proper lack of interest in Other Thing, because in their eyes, I had already proven that my opinions and feelings should be ignored because of course I’d always enjoy it if I just tried it.

      “I don’t care if YOU aren’t interested, I want you to be interested” is not a good dynamic, LW.

    • LW said:

      LW here: I don’t think this is a gendered issue in our relationship, he doesn’t have a ton of close friends (I don’t either, we’re both intense introverts) and the ones he does have aren’t into the same kind of media. I think it’s more likely he saw something on the internet about GOT and Deadwood that was at the right time and phrased in a way that did make them sound interesting, so they resonated with him. And he doesn’t disregard other suggestions, even in other areas where our tastes differ greatly (music for example). He’s just especially picky about movies and tv, and he’s explained he needs to be led in at the right time.

      And I also think I phrased it badly in my letter, about not believing why he doesn’t want to watch The Wire. I think his feelings about the depressing subject matter are completely valid, I just don’t really believe that he plans to watch it any time soon. After reading this thread, however, I’m completely okay with that.

      • eigthysixed said:

        I just want to say something specifically about The Wire as someone who has a completely different taste in other media, but has had it recommended to me a lot…..it doesn’t binge watch well.

        After having heard “it’s the best” for years and personally loving Homicide Life on the Street, it really seemed like a no brainer that it would be a show I would like. Finally last fall when I was unemployed I figured then was as good a time as any. Made it through season 1 (very good!), and then season 2 started…. And it wasn’t that season 2 was bad, it just wasn’t as good as season 1 and made for very poor binge watching. So by the time I got to season 3 (I was unemployed, living at home….), I was running out of steam and interest. I stopped in the middle of season 3, and it’s not even that I don’t think I’d like it. It’s just a difficult show to binge watch, and then that makes it easy to just stop.

        Now the flip side to this, is that when I had the stomach flu I binge watched the whole first season of Revenge. So describing a show as good or bad to binge watch in no way describes the overall quality of the show. But some shows just aren’t designed to be consumed like that. As a ‘spoon full of sugar’ suggestion, you could always try watching Homicide Life on the Street together, which touches on a number of the same themes and writing style without being nearly as heavy.

        • I did this with Buffy. I got through season 4, which to me is where Whedon really hit his stride as an artist, at least for that series, and when I got to season 5 I just petered out. It wasn’t as good as previous seasons, and I find the villain SUPER annoying. I didn’t even really make a conscious decision to stop watching. I just realized one day that it’d been weeks or months since I’d watched, and I had lost track of the plot so there was no use in picking it up again where I’d left off.

        • lol Revenge was totally one of my shame-watches for a while. I haven’t kept up with it but it’s definitely good to just put on and not have to think.

      • neverjaunty said:

        LW, does he know you’re completely OK with that? If he’s saying ‘yeah I’ll watch it’ and then not getting around to it, that’s different than him promising to watch it soon to get you off his back.

        • LW said:

          We had a conversation where I apologized for being pushy and wouldn’t bring it up again, and neither of us have mentioned it since.

    • My ex-boyfriend was that kind of Dude. He didn’t like anything I liked, not even given it a chance, but at the same time I had to tolerate everything he liked. Okey, he was worse than the kind of Dude who doesn’t take your suggestions but try something when another Dude gives the same suggestion.

      We lived together in a small apartment with one room and kitchen, so we were in each other’s space most of the time. His dislike of my favorite music, my favorite movies and my favorite tv series led to us only listening to his music – if I played my music he complained about it until I let him choose the music or he changed playlist because “I’m sorry, I really don’t like that genre”, but if I voiced an opinion against his choice of music it didn’t matter cause “he had the right to listen to what he wanted”. When I tried to talk to him about the hypocrisy he always said that it wasn’t the same thing; he couldn’t stand my music, he couldn’t think when it was on, he got headache from “all the different instruments and fast guitar plinking in Mumford and Sons”, he absolutely loathed the music I listened too, it was too sad, it brought him down and so on. Meanwhile my arguments against the music he listened to (often loudly too) wasn’t as serious cause I just didn’t understand the genre, I just didn’t like the lyrics (some of the bands/groups he listened to had misogynic lyrics) but I could try not to listen to the lyrics and just enjoy the beat or I was a bigot (against what? rap rock bands? house? it wasn’t even a question of race since they all were white).

      One day I came home from work and was shocked that Florence + The Machine was on. I loved Florence + The Machine but it was on my boyfriends “ugh, no, I get headache!” list so I never got to listen to it. Why was it on? Yeah. a friend of my boyfriend had played him Calvin Harris remix of Spectrum and suddenly he was crazy about ALL of Florence Welsh’s work. I guess I should be happy that I got to listen to any music I liked eventually.

      I was young and eager to please, so I didn’t make a big deal out of this. Or the fact that we never watched any of the shows I liked, or if we were just channel surfing we always ended up watching some Discovery show he fancied and never ever watched one of the “competition shows” I like to watch when bored (like Masterchef or Project Runway). I didn’t think much about it then, but afterwards, after our breakup and after other, more healthy relationships with other guys I realized that no, that’s no way to treat a partner. I didn’t need to respect his opinion ’bout the music played since he clearly didn’t respect mine. If I couldn’t play my music because he didn’t like it, then he ought to have shown me the same respect and don’t play the songs I really disliked because a frequent use of slurs in the lyrics. It’s a two way street.
      And I think he was just hogging the speakers.

    • Captain Ersatz said:

      I got that same vibe. It made me very uneasy. I hope for LW’s sake that this is just an issue of media sharing, but I can see how this could very easily be a power struggle.

    • I don’t have any experience dating or being friends with someone who is “That Dude,” but I do have a experience as a nerdy lady-person who gets lots of recommendations about tv shows, movies, or book series that my friends or family think I will enjoy. Sometimes, even if it’s coming from a person close to me with whom I share interests, like my sister or my Significant Otter, the more a thing is recommended, the more I will put off looking into it. It’s not that I don’t trust their taste or don’t think their opinions are valid, but I dislike being pushed, even when it’s done with nice intentions by people who want to share something. I just like to come to things in my own time.

      From the information the LW’s provided, here and in the comments, I think it’s plausible to think that the LW’s boyfriend might not be dismissing their opinions, but instead, like me, just need to come to things in his own time.

    • Dov Ber said:

      Agreed on that vibe. Sounds like some patriarchy happening.

  6. DFTBAwkward@gmail.com said:

    I feel you, LW! Harry Potter is intensely important to me (like, I go to cons). My boyfriend had never read it. I asked him to early on when we started dating, but he wouldn’t bite. When I let him alone about it, a few months later he had downloaded the audiobooks, which he has now listened to. He doesn’t love it like me, but I was glad that he gave it a shot (after I laid off it a little ;) ).

    Also, if this isn’t too much of a derail, can someone sell me on Fargo? BF and I LOVE the movie (Marge Gunderson is #1 in our hearts forever), but we couldn’t make it through the first episode of the show. It just felt like the tone of the show was much darker and more cynical than the movie, and we had a hard time getting into it. But I hear it gets better?

    • JenniferP said:

      Alison Tolman as Molly Solverson, her incredible smarts and work ethic and her awesome dad hooked me in. She’s cut from the same cloth as Margie, but earlier in her life and career. I say give Fargo 2 episodes and if you aren’t in you won’t be in. But I agree, Lester is hard to take in the pilot amd it turned me off as well until Molly’s story kicked in.

      • I agree. Lester alone, not so much fun. Molly doing dogged police work despite her ineffectual boss who doesn’t listen, so much fun that I wanted to cry when the series ended. No more Molly?
        My best friend, at whose home I watched the show (I don’t have a TV), has heard rumors about a potential return of the series. That is, if sufficiently well-crafted additional story arcs can be crafted.
        I sure hope so. The character was great. Still smile when I think of her taking down the teen-aged boy with a flying tackle, as glimpsed through a picture window.

      • thegirlfrommarz said:

        I agree re Fargo – I came for the Coen-esque vibe but I stayed for Molly. I was really put off by how Pearl seemed to be a cartoon stereotype of a nagging wife, but Molly is a great, fully rounded character. Can’t believe Alison Tolman was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in the Critics’ Choice awards – that’s a leading role if ever I’ve seen one. Although I’m happy she won.

        So many people made comments about “losing sympathy” with Lester later in the series, and I kept thinking “Hello, he did [terrible thing which I won't spoil] in the first episode!”.

        • miss_chevious said:

          Fargo is really really good about giving all of its characters stories. And, for taking place in the blinding whiteness of a Minnesota winter, it’s pretty diverse in terms of casting. And Molly is *amazing.*

          W/r/t you comment about Lester, thegirlfrommarz, I agree with you about [terrible thing], but for me [other terrible thing] sealed his fate. Until then I could believe that it had been a confluence of circumstances that caused [first terrible thing] (circumstances which include Lester’s own personal failings). After [other terrible thing], though? NO WAY. Lester is the *worst*.

    • Same with Harry Potter. I read the first two right before the third came out in hardcover and was SOLD SOLD SOLD. Suggested my hub read them, he didn’t want to, I said “okay” because, seriously, there’s a difference between sharing your squee and being a gigantic sphincter. Fast forward to the film of HP&S/PS. I drag him there on opening night (movies were one of those things that we both gave in about without a fight because it was our Date Night and it cuts both ways when you see a movie every weekend), the lights go down, and I swear he didn’t blink at all. After ten minutes, he leaned over, never taking his eyes from the screen, and whispered “Did you say we have these books?”

      I was GRACIOUS in my Harry Potter victory, but inside I did a gigantic flailing happy dance. AND after that, he was a lot more open to my “you should try reading this” suggestions, because he was irritated with himself for missing out on Harry Potter for so long by dismissing my rec.

      We made it through the 4th book before we became a two-copies-on-release-day couple.

      • Erin said:

        I really like your husbands reaction. He discovered that listening to your recommendations would help him not miss out on great stuff and changed his behavior accordingly.

      • Chocomoholic said:

        And it’s good to be gracious about it. My sister got into the Harry Potter series much before I did… I remember being resistant to it because it seemed EVERYONE was so in love with it. I remember in my 9th grade English class, we had to present a book report and 9 out of the 20 kids in my class did a book report on Harry Potter. NINE. None of which described the story in what seemed exciting to me.

        I only read the book when my mother announced that we were going to go see the movie when it came out in theaters since my sister was such a big fan of the books (my sister very rarely reads; she’s extremely picky in what she likes, so my mother was excited to see her so interested). At that point I believe the 4th book was about to be released?

        I devoured all 3 books in 3 days. And then became one of those “need a copy on release day” people. My sister was just excited that she got to talk to me about the story, never once said “I told you so!”.

      • DFTBAwkward said:

        I think the similarities & differences in our stories points out something potentially helpful. Like, your husband really LOVED HP and was totally on the bandwagon. My boyfriend didn’t ultimately LOVE it and won’t be as intense of a fan as I am, but he liked it well enough and now it’s something we can talk about and he understands it. He doesn’t have to love it for it to have meant something to me that he was willing to put all that time in with it. So I think for both of us, it’s been important to respect our SO’s reactions and realize they have different relationships with the things we like and that’s ok! What’s important is that they continue to engage with US.

        I also think there are ways you can give recommendations that maybe combine things you both like? My boyfriend is a huge movie buff while I am more of a reader. So while I read a lot of YA, I wouldn’t pull for him to read it necessarily. But he’s happily gone with me to see the Hunger Games movies, Divergent, and recently The Fault in Our Stars. And he watches them with an open mind and has genuinely enjoyed them. It’s a way for us to find a common ground in things we both like. After watching TFIOS and Divergent, he used that “hey, you like Shailene Woodley?” thing as an opening for us to sit down and watch The Descendants (which is great), and pretty soon we’re going to watch Sideways by the same director, another movie he really likes. I think some give and take with sharing whatever interest you may have is healthy, even if you don’t do it in the same way. For the LW, you know, maybe her boyfriend doesn’t watch all the same TV shows she watches, and maybe it takes him awhile to get there. But maybe he can reciprocate on her interests in other ways, like if he’ll cook with her, or play a sport with her, whatever. Reciprocation I think is important, much more important than needing a partner to do exactly X certain activity with you always.

    • Suzy said:

      Ah Harry Potter. I was going to talk about exactly that. All through college my friends would be horrified that I hadn’t read it. “How have you not read it?” They would say. “It’s so good,” and on and on and on. And on and on and on. Seriously. I got harrassed about it on a pretty constant basis about it, by a lot of people. “I don’t think it’s my thing, like I’ve seen the movies but I’m not feeling it,” I would say. “But you DON’T KNOW! YOU NEED TO READ IT! READ IT AND YOU WILL SEE.” Five or so years later I finally buckled. FINALLY, because my husband in particular just wouldn’t leave me alone about it. So I read the first one. I said “Fine, if I read this stupid book, you and everyone else has to SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT.” And I did. And I didn’t enjoy it at all. I dutifully read the next one, attempting to be open-minded, because I knew by this stage everyone had made me hate it so I wanted to like it. But I didn’t enjoy it either. And you know what happened? “Oh, but you need to read the *next* one! That’s when it starts getting really good.” It occasionally comes up now and again and I’ve learned to shut it down. It’s like “Fuck off, that wasn’t part of the deal.”

      Would I have liked it if people had left me alone? Possibly, i don’t know. Would I have come to it in my own time? Actually, I might have. But as it is, I can’t bring myself to even look at the rest of it. I hate Harry Potter now, because of all that ridiculousness and it annoys me. And I also know that if I ever read it and liked it I would have a chorus of people chanting “I told you so.”

      Please, LW, drop it and let your boyfriend come to it in his own time. The last thing you want is for him to grudgingly watch something because you won’t leave him alone about it. It will be ruined for him and he’ll just be like “oh, I guess I have to watch it now, ugh.”

      HArry Potter in particular is a sore point for me.

      • bloodygranuaile said:

        This story sounds a lot like the story of Why I Do Not Play Video Games and about half of the story of Why I Am, In Fact, A Gigantic Sex-Negative Misandrist, Sorry Not Sorry (the other half involves housework).

        I’m always surprised at the number of people who don’t understand that badgering someone to like something is basically guaranteed to eventually backfire if you do it hard enough, since I’ve never run into anyone who claims that it totally works on them and they’ve definitely responded super positively to it and they just love it when stuff is overhyped to death.

        • Suzy said:

          “Thank you so much for not listening to me and repeatedly telling me I had to watch it, and arguing with me every time I said I wasn’t interested,” SAID NO ONE EVER.

      • No Longer In Academia said:

        This is entirely the story of me and Stargate: Atlantis. “Oh, no, that carefully hand-picked episode that someone showed you was a bad episode! Here, watch this other carefully hand-picked episode that will definitely convert you!” All that happened was that I eventually went from finding SG:A boring, to actively wishing that every character would fall into a black hole and take the entire show with them.

        • 100% agree!

          “Bushwhacked is the BEST episode of Firefly, it will make you LOOOOOOOOVE the series you must watch it now” and then when the episodes turns out to be completely repulsive the tune suddenly changes to “Oh, that wasn’t a good episode to start with.” Nope, I’m done.

        • J. Preposterice said:

          Oh, the epic numbers of people who tried to convince me that I’d like Rodney if I just gave him a chance. (Me: I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH HUNDREDS OF HIM HE’S NOTHING SPECIAL AND ALSO THERE IS A REASON NONE OF THOSE GUYS WERE MY FRIENDS AND I HAVE A DERISIVE NICKNAME FOR THE ENTIRE TYPE.)

          • SarahTheEntwife said:

            Ok, I’d thought the whole point of Rodney was that the level of annoyance and desire to shove him into the nearest black hole full of lemons was sort of cathartic and he’s a well-written example of that particular type of annoying person. The idea of someone telling me I should *like* him is totally baffling. 0.o

          • J. Preposterice said:

            Sarah — slashfen, she said, shrugging.

      • miss_chevious said:

        Heh. I gave up on Harry Potter in book 4, Suzy. I found it boring. And you would not *believe* the heat I get from people for saying that out loud.

  7. Thanks for this one – you explained a lot of what I feel when people tell me to see something. I’m terrible at being the person who says “Um, yeah, I’ll check that out…” and not doing it until way later, if at all. I know what I like, and when I like it, and a lot of folks think that’s horribly limiting. =) There seems to be literally no refusal that people think is reasonable when it comes to movies or TV shows. I don’t like the sad, the horrifying, and I have quite a lot of times when I just need fluff and cheese.

    That said, of course, I am bad about being the only one who decides on movies… if anyone else is like this and has suggestions on how to work on that, I (and my long-suffering partner and siblings) would really appreciate it. =)

  8. peregrinations said:

    Great advice, as always!

    I have to say, I kind of empathize with your boyfriend about The Wire. I started watching it a couple years ago, and I just couldn’t get into it. I really *should* love that show. All my friends love The Wire. I LOVE all the shows that people compare to The Wire: Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, True Detective, etc. etc. I love the genre. There’s no objective reason why I shouldn’t love that show. But…I just didn’t.

    I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I watched it during the final months of writing my dissertation. I’d watch it at night to wind down: in retrospect, that was a Very Bad Idea. I was too exhausted to keep track of all the characters and storylines – The Wire is like Game of Thrones that way, and it took me a while to get into GoT for that very reason. I also was super-stressed and depressed at the time, and it’s a dark, violent show. Again, GoT is at least as dark and violent, but I got into it at a better time in my life. You say your boyfriend is depressed… I think I can relate.

    I’ve been saying for two years now that I’m going to go back and re-watch it. Thing is, it feels like such a big investment that I haven’t gotten around to it yet. But I’m going to, one of these days…maybe your boyfriend will too.

    • Redgirl said:

      I’m so with you on that, except the dissertation part. I love smart, well-written shows but for some reason my brain just cannot follow The Wire. It’s like it just starts wandering elsewhere…

      My husband and I frequently recommend shows to each other (and now my son is in on it too–he totally got us into Dr. Who), but if the other person says, “Sorry, not interested” or starts watching and loses interest (as I did with The Wire and True Blood) we let it go. I really don’t understand this concept of pushing your partner to watch/read things they don’t want to just because you love them.

    • No Longer In Academia said:

      I don’t know if this will help, but I watched the first few episodes of The Wire with the DVD subtitles turned on. I was really struggling to follow the accents, and I couldn’t work out what the hell people were saying AND remember who all the characters were AND keep track of the plot. After a while, I got my ear in and I could turn the subtitles off again, but I don’t think I would’ve stuck at it without them.

      • peregrinations said:

        That’s a good idea. I’ll try it, thanks!

      • Redgirl said:

        Yes, thanks for the tip!

    • I couldn’t get into the Wire because it was so so, slow. Like, new scene: camera follows guy slowly walking into bar, slowly sitting down. Then one line of dialogue. Then a loooooong pause before the reply. Then another panning shot of the bar.

      I actually wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of crossover between Whedon fans and Wire fans for that reason – Whedon has fast-talking dialogue and a lot of it.

    • I’ve had the same issue with Breaking Bad. I started watching it this past year when I was doing my final year in university, and I had a huge final performance to prepare for. My stress levels just continued to sky rocket throughout the year, so when I started watching Breaking Bad, I found that I couldn’t really enjoy it because all the tension and darkness of the show made me feel even more horrible. I would feel all tense and stressed out wondering what would go completely wrong next, so by the end of watching an episode or two I’d just feel horribly exhausted and nervous.

      I managed to recognize that that was going on very quickly though, so I said to my boyfriend, with whom I was watching the show, that it just wasn’t a good show for me to watch when I had stress going on in my life, and could we please save it for the summer holidays. Luckily I recognized it quickly enough to not end up hating the show. AND boyfriend reacted with the completely appropriate “yeah that’s totally cool, let’s watch something else that is completely relaxing!” which also meant I didn’t have pressure to watch it that would have made me resent the show more.

  9. KTB said:

    LW, the Captain has made many, many excellent points. My husband and I share a love of lots of things (GoT, Harry Potter, Firefly, et al.), but there are just some shows/movies/what-have-you that will catch like fire for one of you, and not the other. For example, I love the show Grimm and am all but caught up on it. My husband watched three episodes of the first season and decided that he was over it. He proceeded to devour every episode of Breaking Bad and I took a pass (I can really only handle one ultra-violent show at a time and we were already watching Sons of Anarchy). I would definitely second her rec to let the deal go, and ideally you two can stumble onto another show that does it for both of you.

    That said, there’s something wonderfully endearing about respecting each others’ obsessions. I am the Star Wars fanatic in the family, to the point of having erected a Nerd Shrine to the original trilogy in our home. My husband is not obsessed with Star Wars, like, at all. That said, he returned from a work trip to China last week with two tees from Uniqlo for me–one has Darth Vader on it, and the other one has C3PO. You don’t need to share an obsession to be totally awesome about someone else’s.

  10. This is a relevant letter for me today, as I just watched The Big Lebowski last night, a movie that a ton of people have raved to me about the brilliance of, and……….. yeah, not so much.

    I hope this isn’t too off-topic, but I wondered if you have a good recommendation for, like, an introductory book about Understanding Film From A Critical Perspective. I think some of what I’m lacking is that ability to get past that initial like/dislike and understand a movie in context like that.

    • e271828 said:

      I’ve learned a bit from reading Film Critic Hulk. The breakdowns of what works and what doesn’t help me figure out how to analyze visual things, something for which I have no training and little vocabulary.

      • theLaplaceDemon said:

        YES. Same here. I <3 Film Crit Hulk…his verbose essays help me articulate why certain things worked for me in TV/film, and others did not. Very educational for those of us with no film background, but an appreciation for the finished product.

    • Courtney said:

      Ok…totally off topic, but I have to share. I saw The Big Lebowski for the first time within the past year. At the time that I saw it, I had been trawling Craigslist for a rug for about a month. That still gives me the giggles.

  11. I haven’t sat through Star Wars either. Just the big scenes.

    • If you’re ever in the mood, Topher Grace edited them together into this supermovie, just under 90 min. All the big stuff, hopefully less of the Jar Jar.

  12. TO_Ont said:

    I’m wondering if watching TV together is a social activity they often enjoy together, and so the reason this is coming up is because they’re negotiating which shows to watch together, and she felt like it was her turn to pick one? If so, maybe they should try exploring new shows together and finding ones they both want to watch? Or only do the ‘take turns’ thing for one episode of something, and afterwards only put it on the ‘things to watch together’ list if they both want to?

    If it’s just a more general ‘I like this and wish he’d like it too’, I’d urge the writer to try to let it go and enjoy the fact that different people often enjoy different art, culture, hobbies, books, sports… Try to think of it as one of the interesting and cool things about being close to other people! Sure, the idea of someone precisely like you who likes everything you like sounds appealing on paper, but in real life wouldn’t it be less exciting than being close to another person who isn’t just like you?

    And yeah, sometimes we respond to the same things differently depending on the moment we experience it or our own personal experiences. That’s part of the beauty and complexity of art.

    It also doesn’t mean someone who responds differently to something than you did is judging you! Which sometimes is one of the reasons people feel so strongly about getting friends or partners to enjoy what they enjoy. And the other person may be able to sense if you feel that way and find the idea of watching your show/reading your book/trying your hobby intimidating because of it. It can be a lot of pressure if you feel like you’re expected to have a certain reaction, and that can make it hard to approach something openly and just experience it.

    • LW said:

      We do watch shows as a social activity – we don’t live together, so a lot of the time we do spend together is marathoning shows and discussing them.

  13. This is interesting to me, because over time I’ve come up with a dating rule that I’ll only start a relationship with someone who interacts with my recommendations a such as I interact with their recommendations. We don’t have to have the same taste but we must, like, respect each other’s taste.

    It seems really shallow and it’s not a rule everyone should immediately go out and implement…but on high school, there were three or four guys who were into me and who wanted me to read books they cared about, but when I got excited about the possibility of a, like, intellectual relationship or whatever, and lent them books I cared about, they wouldn’t read them and frequently wouldn’t return them. I realized that kind of behavior seemed correlated with…an intellectual objectification?* And I’ve avoided it since, and dated nice people of various genders** since, and probably that’s somewhat coincidental.

    The LW has been dating this dude for a while, and clearly finds value in him. But if she feels that the fact he’s ignoring her recommendations because on some level he doesn’t take her seriously, they could talk about that. (It does strike me as weird that he’ll like shows she recommends, but only outside of the context of her recommendations.)

    *does anyone else know what I mean here? Like, they liked my mind, which is mostly positioned as the opposite of objectificatoon, but they liked it the same way they would like a body they objectified. Like…they wouldn’t interact with it on its own terms? I see this post-HS too, I’m just better at avoiding it.

    **I have to say, the unreciprocated media consuming seems mostly like a guy thing.

    • Ellen Fremedon said:

      On our first date, I recommended a book to my now-boyfriend, with really no expectation that he would actually read it. That he went out and read it, enjoyed it, and emailed me to tell me what he thought about it was a huge green flag for me. Another was that, when I did not care for the book he lent me on our second date, he respected my opinion and didn’t try to talk me around.

      • minuteye said:

        Heh, my partner did the same thing with an obscure movie I said I liked on our first date. Very green flag :)

      • Podkayne said:

        Yes! I’ve dated a few guys who enthusiastically read the books I suggested for them and it was, as you say, a huge green flag.

    • **I have to say, the unreciprocated media consuming seems mostly like a guy thing.

      ^^^ YES!

      And it’s not just on an individual level either. There has been a lot of research into the development and marketing of media* (films, books, TV) and by-and-large the industry assumes “Men will only consume media about men; women will consume media about anything”. It’s a huge contributing factor to the imbalance of male and female leads in popular film and TV: (it is assumed) men won’t watch/engage with media that has a female lead and so the industry markets male-lead media to a “general” audience and women-lead media to a “women-only audience” thus reenforcing the assumption that men will only watch stuff with other men in it etc etc blah blah blah.

      * There has been some really interesting discussion about this and the compulsory reading lists for high school students – I just can’t remember the reference right now.

      • meek-bookworm said:

        If you do find the reference please let me know! Our summer reading lists were generally broad enough to interest anyone (I still believe they just polled teachers for their favorite books), but the mandatory school year books were meant to represent many different people. Most of the guys I know who read aren’t biased against female leads (The Goblin Wood and His Dark Materials trilogy are generally agreed awesome) but I guess being a guy who reads and associates with me can be pretty self selecting.

    • Astral said:

      *does anyone else know what I mean here? Like, they liked my mind, which is mostly positioned as the opposite of objectificatoon, but they liked it the same way they would like a body they objectified.

      Sadly yes. A couple of guys who 1) thought he loved me or 2) really wanted my adoration because I was smart and seemingly together. But over time I got the impression that they mostly thought my mind was a super fun object. One was a in high school; one was far past. And I do hate when what could be fun brainy play becomes manipulative mind games. Ugh. Luckily I’ve met others who don’t need to win at the latter. I think it’s about “well, if I can influence smart, independent thinker with eclectic interests, then I prove I really am powerful, dominant, etc.”

      • Jenna said:

        There was a guy on OKCupid. We had a number of emails back and forth and it was fun, and he seemed blazingly smart…
        But, I was starting to feel like I had to be *on* all the time, and it felt exhausting.

      • theLaplaceDemon said:

        Yep, that has happened to me before. I dated one person, in particular, who really liked the idea of Being The Guy Dating The Smart Chick and telling his friends about Traits/Credentials, but didn’t seem to want to actually *engage* with my brain at a level that was any deeper than a Buzzfeed listicle.

    • Anisoptera said:

      Yes this is a good rule! I don’t expect people I date to automatically like everything I like, but I want them to at least engage with my recommendations most of the time, give it a go, generate an opinion. And honestly I don’t think I would feel compatible with someone who *never* liked any of the same stuff. There needs to be some overlap of interests. I want an SO who thinks I’m cool and clever and have great taste even if they don’t share that taste on every single thing.

      Because being in a long term relationship with someone who treats a recommendation from me as the kiss of death for that thing has left me with serious self esteem issues I’m still trying to get over years later. As in, this person who loves me and knows me really well thinks all of my opinions suck and that everything I like is worthless… maybe it’s true?

    • Podkayne said:

      Definitely. I like dating smart guys, but only when they respect my intelligence back. Some intelligent guys just want a wide-eyed recipient for their thoughts and observations — smart enough to understand what they’re saying, but not independent enough to have any thought of their own.

      I agree with the respect for each other’s taste so much. I don’t think it’s shallow and I think it’s deeply related to an overall respect for someone. I was definitely on the side of LW here. I’ve had so many experiences of uneven media suggestions and consumptions just like this, where a guy doesn’t want to watch or listen to anything I suggest but expects me to eagerly watch anything he suggests.

  14. TO_Ont said:

    Or he, I guess the letter writer didn’t actually say their gender.

  15. MellifluousDissent said:

    I am the queen of “my initial reaction is no I don’t want to watch your thing because I have my own things that I already like so please take your thing that I am unfamiliar with to the place that is else, kthxbye.” I *know* this about myself, and usually try to give things a shot in spite of my knee-jerk !NOPE! reaction, but sometimes, I just don’t have the mental energy to push past it, and when I’m in full-on NOPE mode, any effort by anyone (even my lovely, loving, well-loved partner) to try to induce me to watch the thing is likely to make my refusal even more entrenched. If this question is truly only about “The Wire,” and there’s not some larger “I won’t do anything you suggest until a non-you person suggests it” dynamic at play, the best thing you can do here is back off.

    OP, I get that you love the show (I am an enormous fan of The Wire and have watched it all the way through multiple times because I’m so taken with the story-telling), but is getting your b/f to watch The Wire really worth this much angst? If you are otherwise happy and fulfilled in the relationship, is it useful/helpful/worthwhile, to you and/or to the relationship, to fixate on this one thing? My guess is the answer to both of those questions is no.

    On the flip side, if the real issue here is “I watched all of his dumb shows and I hated every second of all of them and I will never get those 125 hours of my life back so HE OWES ME,” your problem isn’t “The Wire”, your problem is an imbalanced relationship, where you feel obligated to comply with his wishes (even when you don’t want to and there’s no real reason to), while he refuses to show you the same courtesy. That’s a relationship problem that won’t be solved by b/f streaming a few seasons of a great television show with you.

    So I guess my advice is, figure out which problem you have, and then address it accordingly. If the sole problem is “he won’t watch this thing I’m sure he’ll like,” definitely back off and otherwise follow the Captain’s fab advice. If the problem is more of a “why doesn’t he respect me the way I respect him” problem, that’s a deeper issue that requires a lot more thinking/talking on your part.

    • Anothermous said:

      “On the flip side, if the real issue here is “I watched all of his dumb shows and I hated every second of all of them and I will never get those 125 hours of my life back so HE OWES ME,” your problem isn’t “The Wire”, your problem is an imbalanced relationship, where you feel obligated to comply with his wishes (even when you don’t want to and there’s no real reason to), while he refuses to show you the same courtesy. That’s a relationship problem that won’t be solved by b/f streaming a few seasons of a great television show with you.”

      Ding ding ding ding, this! To be honest, this above paragraph is the vibe I personally got from the letter, but that could very well be me projecting because I have experienced that dynamic myself. LW, I would think very carefully on the pattern of how your boyfriend responds to your suggestions–not just about media, but about everything. If he knee-jerks resists anything you suggest to him, but will do it gladly if it comes from another person (particularly one of his male friends), you have a much bigger problem than your boyfriend not watching The Wire, and it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. Not a pleasant thing to consider, for sure, but it’s worth considering nonetheless. =\

    • LW said:

      “On the flip side, if the real issue here is “I watched all of his dumb shows and I hated every second of all of them and I will never get those 125 hours of my life back so HE OWES ME,” your problem isn’t “The Wire”, your problem is an imbalanced relationship, where you feel obligated to comply with his wishes (even when you don’t want to and there’s no real reason to), while he refuses to show you the same courtesy. That’s a relationship problem that won’t be solved by b/f streaming a few seasons of a great television show with you.”

      Definitely not my feelings about it, I enjoyed Buffy, Angel, and Dollhouse greatly. I’m looking forward to Firefly, which I think is on the list next. I think the root of the problem is my desire to have my interests validated by him, which I’m sure is pretty clear to him, making it a weird feelings minefield. When it comes to The Wire specifically, I genuinely think he’ll love it, but that’s also definitely at the apex of the emotionsmountain so I can’t blame him at all for being put off.

      • TO_Ont said:

        I think it can be hard if you identify so strongly with a piece of art or media that someone rejecting it feels personal somehow. And like you point out, that also makes it a feelings minefield for the other person.

        Maybe try flipping it around and thinking of it as taking the recommendation seriously enough to want to watch it in a good frame of mind, and waiting for when it feels like the right time to actually appreciate it? Or think about the idea that saying something feels ‘too depressing’ does also imply it’s very powerful? Good media can touch us deeply.

      • MellifluousDissent said:

        I’m a little concerned about you feeling like you need to have your interests “validated” by your b/f – that’s a really powerful position to hand over to someone else, and doesn’t strike me as being super-healthy in the context of a romantic relationship. B/f may be a cool person, b/f may be a cool person who has been a really helpful presence in your life, but b/f is not the arbiter of all things “worthy” or “valuable” or “cool.” It’s not his job or his place to “validate” your interests – you get to choose your own interests, and as long as your interests aren’t of the “throwing sharp pointy objects towards other people’s eyes” variety, they’re “valid” because they’re *yours.* Full stop. No outside input required.

        It also strikes me that seeking this kind of feedback from him is really setting him up for a potentially fraught situation – what if he doesn’t like The Wire? If he doesn’t like The Wire, it sounds like, that leads to you feeling like he’s not validating your interests, which leads to, what? Emotional turmoil? Meltdown? Some other kind of completely stressful, emotionally fraught thing where you feel rejected as a person because he didn’t like the show that you like? With those kinds of stakes, I don’t know that I’d ever touch anything my partner recommended to me with a ten foot pole, because the most the potential upside could be is that I discover a new show that I like (which is cool, but not overly significant), while the potential downside is emotional turmoil and feelingsbombs because my partner feels invalidated. Yikes.

        • Linden said:

          Yes. I was seeing a guy who wanted me to watch movies he liked. We watched Kill Bill together one night, but I didn’t enjoy it, and I know he felt so disappointed that he ended up holding it against me. One time he even said something like, “I could never be serious about someone who doesn’t like (long list of movies), or who likes (other long list of movies, most of which I liked).” I was like, really, dude? Needless to say, that didn’t last.

        • Lucy said:

          This is a super-important point to make. My boyfriend and I have what look like extremely disparate tastes in media and general interests. He’s into a lot of geeky stuff that I could seriously care less about. My preferred movie choice is horror and anything involving satanic cults, and it takes a lot of cajoling to get him to try a horror film with me. But he’s never openly denigrated the fact that I enjoy it. And if he’s like, “Oh, the new [superhero] movie is coming out,” and I’m immediately like “NOPE” he will just go and see it himself without telling me that I must not like it because I’m too stupid or whatever. And if he did I’d be like SEE YA. Seriously, it’s not worth it to be in a relationship with someone who feels the need to approve what you like.

        • LW said:

          Thanks for this, it helps me empathize with his position. I have a history of insecurity and dependency, so I think this is just another area affected by that. I’ve been doing a lot of work on it, and this thread has helped a lot.

    • Erin said:

      Thanks for going into this, that’s what I thought about too. To me it sounded like the LW saw an imbalance there: They made a deal, LW watched a lot of his recommendations, but the same never happened with LW’s recommendations (because he either didn’t like, did it on his own etc.). The Captain is right that you can’t force him into watching (and definitely not liking) any of your recommendations, but if you see an imbalance there and you are hurt by it, you have to figure out what your solution could be. Do you need to have a talk about your hurt? (WITHOUT making him watch all your shows, that’s a superficial solution to an underlying problem.) Do you need to be stricter about what you watch together because you actually didn’t like those Joss Whedon productions and now you feel like you unfairly spend a lot of time on it? Do you feel like your boyfriend isn’t respecting you because he blew off most of your recommendations/didn’t try to “get even”?
      I agree you can’t make him like things, but I would encourage you to find out your motivations behind writing this letter because I don’t think it’s “But The Wire!!” It may be something about your relationship that you’d like to address.

      • emdashing said:

        I just want to toss in my hat for the importance of “balance.” It wasn’t until I ended my most recent relationship that I realized how imbalanced our efforts at sharing the things we liked really were. I know SO MUCH about sports I never used to have interest in, but he never watched Buffy despite numerous promises to do so. That wasn’t what really stands out to me though. I was named after a character in a novel that was obviously close to my parents’ hearts and has, as an adult, become close to mine. I got him a fancy edition and made a big point about how important reading it would be to me. He never read it and just didn’t really seem to get it. The day he moved out he handed the copy to me and said, “I guess I don’t really need this, do I?” I knew then and there that breaking up with him was the best decision I’d ever made.

        It’s perhaps no surprise given that my screenname is Emdashing that this novel is Austen’s Emma. I should have paid closer attention to it. After all, (SPOILERS) Harriet ends up with the kind farmer who read the book she recommended.

        I don’t know if I “pressured” my ex unfairly or not. I gave him the book and then tried not to ask about it after that initial “this is important to me, please share it with me” speech. I am not sure where this falls on the line of what he could have been reasonably expected to do, but I learned a lot about myself in terms of what I would WANT someone to be willing to do (whether or not it was reasonable) in a relationship.

        • Katemonster said:

          Yes! I have a fav book (200 pg, light novel) listed on fb, and my not-great-fit ex went out of his way to order it to show how awesome he was–then said he couldn’t get into it and never read it. There was a lot of the “sharing media only goes one way” dynamic many people have mentioned.

          In contrast, I gave a copy to new amazing bf before he went away for a few weeks to visit family–and he got another copy from the library so he and his grandma, a lit professor, could read it together.

          So Emdashing, I hear you and feel like Harriet now! (For reference, the book is “The History of Love” and is about a teenager named after a character in her parents’ favorite book.)

          • emdashing said:

            I’m going to download that to my kindle today! That sounds right up my alley. Thank you for the rec, Katemonster. :)

  16. Anisoptera said:

    I can really see this question from two angles. On the one hand, I once had a boyfriend who would never watch/read anything I suggested to him, until someone else suggested it. The other person didn’t have to be male or anything, just someone he thought was cool (see, that’s the clue right there). Then he would watch the thing and it would be the best thing ever! I used to consider carefully if I thought he would like a thing before I recommended it – I didn’t just suggest everything I liked because we had different tastes. So I was majorly bummed out that my careful thoughtful suggestions were always dismissed. This was part of a pattern in this relationship, and it wasn’t a good relationship. He didn’t respect my opinions full stop, and this was just one of many ways it manifested. If that’s happening to you LW, and your BF will only hear something (reccomendations, opinions whatever) if it comes from someone other than you, don’t ignore it. It’s bad news.

    On the other hand, I have a friend who is always bugging me to watch stuff that he likes, even if it’s a kind of thing I never like and don’t want to watch. He doesn’t seem to care to tailor his recommendations to my taste. He also bugs me over and over to watch things, sometimes even starting to play something when we’re watching TV together that I’ve said I don’t want to watch multiple times. Then getting annoyed when I don’t show interest when it’s playing. Anyway, first off this feels disrespectful of my wishes and my refusal. Secondly, it makes me really really really not want to watch the thing. Sometimes it makes me not want to watch a thing I would maybe otherwise want to watch, but I feel so pressured I lose interest (and perhaps years later I watch it on my own, and maybe it really is cool). It turns watching the thing into a chore.

    It’s turned all of his recommendations into this really fraught thing and made me more likely to reject all of them, just in reaction to the pressure I think will probably happen in the future.

    I don’t think deals where you bargain about I-will-watch-this if you-will-watch-that are a great idea. I think they lead to situations like the one you’re in right now, where you held up your end but now he doesn’t want to hold up his. Just watch what you want to watch, and let him do the same.

    LW your Deadwood story made me vaguely cross though. He knew you wanted to watch it with him, he got a recommendation from not-you, and then watched it without you. That would make me feel really rejected too. I mean, he gets to watch shows without you, sometimes it’s just not convenient to watch it together. Sometimes he wasn’t in the mood then, but is now. But if it’s a pattern it must feel pretty rejecting. :-(

    • boutet said:

      I have to say that I-will-if-you-will has never worked for me in any form. I’ve tried it with chore scheduling with roomies, with choosing where to go/eat with friends who don’t like to choose, with maintaining some sort of peace at family events. You do it (because you’re clearly willing to, you brought it up after all) and the other side doesn’t (because they never wanted to in the first place and only agreed because they didn’t want to take responsibility for saying no directly). Then you are not only upset that they still aren’t doing the thing, you’re also upset that you’ve tricked yourself into believing that maybe they would come through this time.

      • Anisoptera said:

        Yeah exactly. I think it appeals to us because instead of having to respond to the behaviour we don’t like we get to believe that maybe we can fix it. Except, even if it does work you had to elicit the behaviour with bribes rather than just getting it spontaneously (which is usually what we’re after). And sometimes it doesn’t work, as you say. And even then it’s still possible to get caught up in apologies and further deals and promises and just continue forever in denial about the fact that the thing we want isn’t going to happen.

        So perhaps we want our partner to see us as a source of great TV show recommendations and validate our taste and want to get involved with stuff we’re involved with and generally show interest in us and respect for our views. And then when they don’t we bargain, but actually, it’s not usually that we want our SO to watch The Wire. It’s that we want them to show interest and act like they think we’re cool and have good taste. And even if the bargain works it doesn’t win you that – it wins you grudging complaince so they can get something else they want.

        It took me ages to learn this, but if you just let people want what they want, and then you decide based on that if they’re someone who you like enough, it’s a lot harder to get twisted around and stuck in a relationship you don’t like but are permanently in a state of trying to fix. You can’t bargain someone out of their personality and preferences, but you can trick yourself into thinking you can, and then blind yourself to who they really are (be it good or bad).

      • Muse142 said:

        To add a different data point: I-will-if-you-will works great with my significant other and I. It’s a major contributor to how we get chores done, especially those chores that no one wants to do (litterboxes, I’m looking at you)… and it’s also how we share media, as TV time is almost always “us” time. “I picked last time, you pick this time” works fantastically for us.

        Caveat: Both of us also have veto power. If he picks Archer and I am Not In The Mood, or I pick Doctor Who and he wants to watch something we HAVEN’T already seen at least twice, picking a Plan B is completely conflict-free on all sides. “Eh, I don’t know but I’ll try it” can be followed by “THAT WAS AWESOME, LET’S WATCH MORE” or “Meh, something else please?” with equal coolness. YMMV, as always!

        • Anisoptera said:

          I know what you’re talking about Muse142 and I’m trying to work out what the difference is between the two things. I think it’s perhaps that you’re not trying to bargain someone off a set preference so much as arrange a fair division of labour (or TV reccomendations). And also that both of you come to the negotiation wanting to reach a compromise.

          The housework example is the easiest to understand. What you describe sounds like just a conversation about who will do what – “ugh X needs doing and I hate that, if you do X I’ll do Y thing you hate?” It seems different somehow to discussions I had with an ex who wouldn’t do his share of housework where I would offer him all sorts of (non-chore related) stuff and favours to try to get him to do his chores. Which didn’t work, because he wasn’t negotiating in good faith.

          Maybe there’s an immediacy factor too – today we watch your thing, tomorrow I choose a thing – which seems different to “let’s spend months watching all of Buffy and then I’ll look at the Wire”.

          Hmm. Because what you describe sounds very reasonable.

          Maybe my conclusion is that you shouldn’t keep trying to bargain with someone who doesn’t hold up their end, and that you shouldn’t try in the first place if they seem extremely unwilling.

          • Erin said:

            Maybe my conclusion is that you shouldn’t keep trying to bargain with someone who doesn’t hold up their end, and that you shouldn’t try in the first place if they seem extremely unwilling.

            Yes, it’s about the attitude and one person negotiating in good faith and one making “Hm.” noises as long as necessary to get the other person off their back. The first is respectful, the second is not wanting OR planning to do the thing, but not stating it outright.

          • Anisoptera said:

            Indeed. Also if someone initiates the negotiation, offering you stuff you want in order to get what they want, (especially vague distant future stuff) and then they don’t come through when it’s their turn, here be bees. I mean, obviously if they have no valid excuse, and just “forget” and become all reluctant once they have what they want. It’s fine if there’s a legit reason.

    • Cactus said:

      So, at one point I was the person who took my boyfriend’s recommendations with a MAJOR grain of salt. Mostly because our tastes had very little overlap. He liked pretty much every mainstream comedy and action movie out there, period. My tastes are more specific, and I guess weird? And I don’t like misogyny or lots of explosions, and I do like interesting female characters. Also, I don’t mind subtitles while he hated them. So while we could agree on seeing the newest Harry Potter movies, or whatever Pixar had released, and a few other things (especially at the beginning when I’d just follow along with his suggestions because whatever, RELATIONSHIP!)…everything else involved him bugging me to see something overly long and annoying (by my standards) for weeks, and then sometimes getting mad because I’d fall asleep in the middle. (And then making fun of me for suggesting my kind of thing, oy…until I just stopped altogether.)
      Anyway, though, I have a (male) friend whose taste is somewhere between the two of ours. And sometimes if he recommended something that my ex was obsessing over, I’d give in. (The 2009 Star Trek for instance.) I wasn’t attracted to this friend, who had a girlfriend. So you might think my ex would be okay with this, but nope. He just got mad that I wouldn’t accept his opinion on things he hadn’t seen yet over my friend’s opinion on things he HAD.
      Ultimately, I can really see both sides of this, having been constantly badgered to try media in an (emotionally abusive) relationship, but also having my own preferences disregarded in that relationship.

    • Professor Mew said:

      I had the same two-fold reaction as you. On the one hand, I’ve definitely dated That Boy, one of those who actually seemed to believe in the term “p—- whipped” as a thing to avoid being at all costs – valuing your partner’s suggestions, of course, means that you’re whipped.

      On the other hand, as someone who has never seen a Star Wars and had almost everyone I’ve ever known try at some point to appoint themselves my cultural educator, it’s really, really irritating, and it’s not that I am opposed to ever watching it – it’s more that I’m opposed to being made to watch it, and I expect I’ll be dead before I ever meet someone who can suggest watching it together without making it into a big “educational” thing.

  17. I watch TV slowly. Verrry slowly, apparently; I am mystified at how friends can stay current on multiple hour-long shows AND have watched older multi-season shows as well. I have a huge to-watch list and every time someone bugs me about a show on it, I feel kind of bad but I don’t know how to get through that list any more quickly!

    Even shows I love can sometimes be the wrong thing to watch. I had to take a break from Battlestar Galactica, as much as I loved it, when my job was undergoing some serious upheaval and I was incredibly stressed out. I just couldn’t handle feeling extra stress in what I wanted to be my downtime!

    Sure, the bf may be blowing you up, but when I’m in a depressive downswing, I can’t handle really dark/upsetting/depressing media, either. Stepping back from media, whether that’s tv or books, that’s too emotionally intense or upsetting is a way I can take care of myself when things are rough. So if that’s a reason he doesn’t want to watch The Wire right now, I do think it’s a good idea to accept that.
    And it may just be that he can’t get into it. As folks have said above, even objectively good media won’t appeal to everyone! As long as he isn’t a dick about not liking it, I think that really is ok.

    • Er. That was meant to be “blowing you off,” not “blowing you up,” which would be much less excusable.

      • Zatchmort said:

        Oh my, yes. This is a really heavy thread for me – thanks for lightening it up, however inadvertently! XD

    • TO_Ont said:

      “I have a huge to-watch list and every time someone bugs me about a show on it,”

      Is this, like, a ‘thing’? Because I can’t really think of any time anyone’s ‘bugged’ me to watch a TV show! Or read a book, etc. If we find we’ve watched or read the same thing and like it, we may talk about it. And we may occasionally mention things to each other… But I can’t think of any time I’ve mentioned a show or book to someone with an actual expectation that they somehow ‘should’ watch it. That just feels disrespectful to me.

      • It really is! I have had people (mostly) good-naturedly do the “you MUST watch it!!!” with Twin Peaks, Star Trek TNG, Buffy (I did break down and am almost done with it, but the constant SHOCK that I hadn’t seen it put this off by a few years out of pure irritation), a ton of those 16 Candles-y films, all of the Avengers & tie-in movies, etc. etc.

        I get that “oh, you should watch/read this!” is a sentence that often doesn’t have much pressure at all behind it; I say that quite often as shorthand for “I love this, I think you might love it too.” That doesn’t bug me, but I get defensive when I feel like people are being judgy about not being into something, or not getting around to it yet.
        Some of this may be related to some of the nerd circles I’ve been in; I am most definitely a super-nerd but I spread my nerdy enthusiasm around to a lot of different things, so I can’t keep up with, say, my sci-fi genre film nerd friends who focus entirely in that area.

    • Erin said:

      Seconded. I prefer up-beat stuff because I can do feeling down on my own, thank you very much.

    • bloodygranuaile said:

      I am also drowning in like fifty billion shows that either sound like something I need to check out or are something I am partway through but am behind on, and I don’t get through them all that fast because I don’t tend to binge-watch anymore–my pile of books to be read is even larger so when I actually do have six spare hours, I either read or try and get some writing done. Luckily, I have excised the people that are asses about this from my social group.

      For me there are two kinds of TV shows–silly ones that don’t require all my attention because they’re not that complex to follow and/or I’m not giantly invested in them anyway, and ones that I need/want to actually focus on and not be doing other stuff when I watch them. Guess which ones I actually watch *more* of and get through *faster*? If you answered “the dumb ones I don’t care about as much”, you are right, because I can have them on while I am working/cleaning/baking cookies/whatever.

  18. Hey LW: come watch The Wire with me. It’s still my favorite. I rilly rilly love it. But it’s been a while since it’s been on, and it’s less current in people’s heads, and folks don’t seem to have watched it and… so let’s go for ice cream and talk about why it’s so heartbreaking/ funny.

    Also, I will say laying off getting people to want to watch The Wire hasn’t diminished my enjoyment of it. And since I am not invested in getting people to watch it as much, I mind it less, if you know what I mean. YMMV, I realize, but it’s a possibility.

    But for the rest of the world, if you loved Fruitvale Station or anything Idris Elba is in? You’re welcome.

  19. I love Molly!!! Stella is amazing but I find Molly more relate-able for me.

    re: TV shows

    My question for the LW: do you want your BF to *watch* the show with you (and love it dearly and discuss is for hours instead of sleeping) or do you just want him to sit with you while you watch it?

    My ex never watched any of my shows. If he did grace with me with his presence he would bug me with questions or pick holes in the plot till it was beyond annoying. I didn’t care if he actually watched my shows – I just wanted him to be physically there with me. He could’ve played on his phone or read a book while the show was on and I wouldn’t have cared. Having said that, there’s a reason he’s my ex and it has a lot to do with emotional neglect and it doesn’t sound like that is an issue here.

    My current BF has a very different taste in film and TV to me (we’re still working this out) but he will watch shows with me because he enjoys spending time with me, and I will watch his stuff because I enjoy spending time with him. If this sort of reciprocity isn’t happening then you might want to have a discussion about it. However, beware false equivalencies! He may not watch your show with you, but he may do other activities that he’s not 100% into because you’re into them and he wants to share what’s important to you (ie cheering the local lawn bowls team or going to art galleries or seeing obscure local bands at their obscure local CD launch).

    I think this is just a really long-winded way of repeating what the Captain said. If you always end up doing his stuff – and he never accompanies you to your stuff – there is probably an issue. If this is an outlier, then maybe set up “date nights” with friends [see note below] who love The Wire as much as you do (so you can watch and gush and discuss to your hearts content), and give him the night off to do his own thing. Then have other date nights with him to do stuff that you both really enjoy.

    [note below]

    When I realised my ex had no interest in sharing/doing things I really enjoyed, I started organising nights out with friends who did enjoy those things as much as I do. Then he started complaining that I never did those things with him… <<< This is not healthy. Refusing to do something with your partner and then complaining when they do it with somebody else is pretty uncool. Sex and other intimate acts are probably the exception here – I'm talking about watching favourite TV shows or films or trying a new obscure-fusion-cuisine restaurant with a friend because your partner only eats meatandthreeveg…

    • LW said:

      Thanks for your suggestions. We’re both very introverted and live separately, so a lot of our “date nights” are times when we stay in and watch things together. We do our own personal projects the rest of the time. And I’m a bit of a hermit (and liking it that way) so I will modify your suggestion and just watch them on my own anyway :)

      • Phoebastria said:

        I have a dear friend who shares my interest in certain movies/shows, yet lives very far from my location. If you have a friend you hang out with via the internet who is into such things as these, maybe what my friend and I do could work for you to share a watching experience. Basically we load up show or movie paused at set location (production company logo, etc), get on our mutual instant messenger accounts, countdown to play, and then long distance watch, typing in our observations along the way. (“Oh wow, that was a way up make an entrance!” “I just caught on to the lighting cues when this character is on,” etc) We frequently repeat the same quotes to each other and otherwise have a great time at it, and our comments don’t get lost in explosions and orchestra swells. We don’t do this often–every few months or so–but it is nice to watch with her and share the things we mutually love.

        So if what you would like sometimes is to watch loved things with someone who will gush alongside you, and you know such a person through internets, this might be workable for you!

        • That’s how my oldest sister and I watched the finale of Once Upon a Time. (Though I’ll note that watching tv with internet friends is actually pretty common in New Zealand Twitter circles. One of the great parts about The Almighty Johnsons was always sitting down to watch it with other fans and some of the actors/producer/etc, and the indigenous current affairs show puts interesting tweets up on the screen after stories.)

        • My sister lives on the other side of the country and we regularly do this! We can’t always synchronise our watching but we wait until the other person has watched and then have a big gush/discussion session. It’s a lot of fun and is a nice way to do something with somebody I miss who lives far away.

    • Anisoptera said:

      The other bonus of this suggestion is that it gives you a genuine sense of perspective on your relationship and how important sharing the thing with other people is to you. It can be revelatory to not have people mock you for what you like. Or it can highlight just how much you do or don’t have in common with your partner. It can lead to either “yay I love my partner and now have this fun other thing too” or to “Actually my partner hates everything I do and only wants to do things I don’t like and actually that’s no good at all”.

  20. I broke up with someone because they owned the ugliest table in the world. Like, a dining room table in their loft.

    Words fail me trying to describe that table. They were hugely proud of it, thought it was cutting edge, bright, exciting, I thought it was shallow and simplistic.

    There’s no arguing, it’s a matter of taste, so I broke it off before we got too deep into things.

    With my current partner, we can spend a day at an art museum, then spend two hours at a cafe going over the different structures and lessons and techniques and insights of the art and paintings we’ve seen. We don’t always agree 100%, but we agree 95%, and always have interesting ideas for each other.

    I consider myself very lucky, but it took a long time to get there.

    • JenniferP said:

      I find that I really, really want to see That Table that could end relationships!

      • TheAngryGuppy said:

        Seconded! I am so intrigued!

  21. Ooh, the “you probably didn’t get it” crap… makes me want to punch someone! No, I didn’t dislike it because I’m not as smart as you are, asshole, I just Didn’t Like It.

    I didn’t like Sucker Punch, and I heard this NON-STOP from everyone who has learned this about me. Sometimes it’s a sympathetic “Yeah, it’s kind of complex and not everybody gets it the first time through” but the message is still the same: you love this movie or you’re an idiot. I understood the thing just fine, and the story itself wasn’t awful but the way it was told was, in my totally subjective opinion, just about the worst possible way to tell that story. Very ineffective. Could have been done with 100% fewer steampunk zombie nazis, for a start. (Now, plug some steampunk zombie nazis into an episode of Doctor Who and I’ll watch the shit out of it… I’m still not tired of dinosaurs on a space ship!) I liked the soundtrack, and the part where the movie stopped happening, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t “understand the nuances” or “couldn’t follow the plot”. While it’s true that *sometimes* that’s the reason someone didn’t like a movie, it never helps the situation to jump to that conclusion. Maybe try, “Oh, bummer… what did you not like?” if you really care… then you can find out that your friend took two trips to the bathroom during Mission Impossible (ooh, I’m dating myself now) and that’s why she thinks that the whole thing made even less sense than it really did.

    Also, as stated over and over above, nothing turns me off a show faster than my husband harping on how we could watch some tonight… how ’bout now? Okay, but after this? NO. (This is how Agents of Shield isn’t getting watched, which is a shame because I’m LIKING IT when he shuts up and lets me ask for it.)

    • dfwl said:

      You are not alone, there are many, MANY people who dislike Sucker Punch. Not that there’s anything wrong with liking it, but most of the opinions I read on teh interwebz are negative (also, the RL opinions that I’ve heard, but there aren’t too many).

    • festinalente8 said:

      YES! Gah – the annoying smugness of ‘well you prob didnt like it because you don’t appreciate things on as many levels as I do’. So tiresome

  22. There’s also the risk of hyping things up too much. I loved ”Drive”. Watched it twice in teater, watched it again several times later on, talked to all my friends about it and of course, mentioned quite A LOT to my BF how great it is and he should totes see it asap.

    Some while later BF watched it. I was mentally jumping up and down, doing jumping jacks of excitement. Finally, he’d seen it and I could talk freely without the risk of spoilers and we could rejoice about how hey, I never did have a thing for Gosling, but now I might.

    But BF just went.. ”Oh, I thought it would be better. ‘s fine. I guess.” with all the excitement of a sedated snail. And it was fine, but I wonder how much my hype played a part in it.

    Another aspect is when your partner is overly invested in you getting the exact same enjoyment out of the thing that they got. I watched ”The Untouchables” and went ”meh”. It’s ok. I thought Connery was ON a little too much.

    And y’all, you should have seen the look on my then BF’s face. It was like I’d told him Santa wasn’t real or something. He got all defensive and tried to logic me into liking it. It… didn’t work out well and neither did the relationship.

    (Omar coming, yo! I love ”The Wire” but actually haven’t seen the last season because I don’t want it to end.)

  23. NLH said:

    Argh, I have so much sympathy for this. This doesn’t seem to be your issue, but it’s particularly been a problem for me when the show I love is a story about women or girls. I can deal with my husband saying “I just don’t like Joss’s style of dialogue” after—AFTER—he’s watched an episode or two and acknowledged this show means something really important to me personally, but not if it’s just “girl kills vampires, whatevs.”

    I don’t know if this is your situation but I’ve found it especially difficult to stomach when there’s something about the show that I want to communicate to him but can’t find my own words for. Like when I saw “The Body” episode of Buffy and it illustrated so perfectly the sick shock, numbness, and horrible isolation I felt at my sister’s sudden death. That episode made me feel less alone, and I desperately wanted other people to see it, get it, and get *me.* Right now it’s Veronica Mars, which is speaking strongly to some feelings of abandonment and family issues I’m sorting through. But “teen girl detective” can be a tough sell.

    It used to be more of an issue. I watched every episode of The Simpsons with him (and came to love it). I learned a lot (!!!) about hockey. I’ve been to and enjoyed Mastodon and Dethklok concerts. But I was starting to feel like “your tastes are default good, while mine are a negotiation.” Lately my approach has been more “I don’t require you to like everything I like, but it means something to me when you give these things a try. It helps me feel like you value my opinion and are interested in why this is meaningful to me.”

  24. Aw, you have only been together 2 years. Would you be content with it if you knew (magically) that 2 more years from now, he would watch and love it? That could happen.

    Also I know a married couple whose deal is, she will watch his TV shows with him (they have a small apartment) but he has to give her a shoulder massage the whole time…

  25. Oh Wow. This letter and subsequent comments just blow me away. I quit watching TV, (as a runaway, truth be told), in 1974, and turned on, tuned out, and turned it off. Sometimes I feel aMAZed at the TV umbilical cord to which all humanoids are attached. “Amazed” is in no way a negative description. I do feel glad (not smug) when I see statistics about how many yea-r-s people spend watching TV, that I haven’t done so, and hey, watching a movie is a big thrill, for me. That being said, I did have a boyfriend that was a big TV head and it wasn’t a problem because in the big scheme of things, you aren’t joined at the hip, and if you have a good relationship and you both want it to last, it’s healthy to accept that throughout life, you can have different interests and schedules and that’s OK.

    • mamacitaconpistoles said:

      Okay so replace the word “TV Show” with “books” and go back to the discussion.

      The commenters who observe it’s not The Wire that’s at issue are really right on. It’s about whether or not you can cheerlead/coax someone into sharing an interest- *any* interest. Answer: not really. And then there is the discussion about the “I have more sophisticated taste than you” or “you should be influenced by my taste but I don’t have to be influenced by yours” around gender dynamics.

      No, a partner doesn’t have to love everything that their SO is into at all. No, we’re not usually joined at the hip to our partners. But sharing things- TV, books, food, hobbies, values, whatever, is important, and figuring out if and how you will share, and what it means to share, and what you will share is a pretty baseline relationship concern.

      And frankly, I grew up without a TV for a long time, never had cable, my parents didn’t have a VCR in the home until I went to college, and I don’t watch all that much TV now. I don’t have a horse in the TV: Good Bad or Sucking Away All Our Time race. But I know TV is a major cultural THING, and more importantly, that TV is a place where many of the finest storytellers of the early 21st century have gone to practice their craft. You seriously cannot be unaware that it’s more than just a brain cell killing way of not being engaged with the world, or [insert other negatives about TV here]. It does sound kinda smug, not happy, actually.

      • TO_Ont said:

        “Okay so replace the word “TV Show” with “books” and go back to the discussion.”

        Personally, I WAS mentally replacing it with books and it reads even stranger to me that way. I have many books I love but I can’t imagine ever pushing them on other people, or feeling personally offended if they don’t read a book I tell them about, or don’t read it until a while later, or getting upset if they do read them but alone rather than with me reading over their shoulder. I actually felt like ‘you’d see how weird this is if you replaced TV show with books, right’? I think because there’s more of an acceptance, usually, of reading as an intensely private activity.

        • Xenophile said:

          To be fair, I think sometimes book recommendations can be more personal and that makes it feel more like a rejection. If it’s a matter of, “This book/movie/show has themes that resonate with me because reasons and it’s been a formative experience for me, and I want to share that part of me with you so you can know me better,” sharing it can feel very vulnerable. (E.g., the same Vader Ex who once yelled at me for hours for not liking the Wire never got around to reading a psychology book about what happens to people who grew up the way I did. I really, really wanted him to try to understand my background. Instead he claimed he didn’t have time, but found time to read Song of Ice and Fire and the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I didn’t/don’t really care that he never got around to watching Casablanca, but wow, it hurt seeing that book collect dust on his desk.) I think because they’re more self-contained than tv, books and movies often lend themselves better to big philosophical statements or cultural explanations.

          Of course tv shows could fill this role too; if the LW is hurt because it feels like the boyfriend is rejecting a part of LW, perhaps the conversation could be more like, “The Wire is important to me because it’s rare to see poor people as main characters with agency,” if that hasn’t happened already. But that’s very different from, “I enjoy this, so you WILL enjoy this! Keep watching until you enjoy it!”

          • Cactus said:

            the same Vader Ex who once yelled at me for hours for not liking the Wire never got around to reading a psychology book about what happens to people who grew up the way I did. I really, really wanted him to try to understand my background. Instead he claimed he didn’t have time, but found time to read Song of Ice and Fire and the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I didn’t/don’t really care that he never got around to watching Casablanca, but wow, it hurt seeing that book collect dust on his desk.)
            Similar experience here, with the guy I spoke of in my previous comment who was always trying to pressure me to see the movies he liked/thought he would like. There was a time about 3 years in where we had some weird fight which grew out of my then-untreated anxiety. So I wrote him a long e-mail later on explaining some formative experiences that I believe may have shaped my brain and my ways of reacting to stress (basically, beating myself up a lot verbally). And the next day when I asked him if he understood he said that he felt he didn’t need to read it and had just skimmed it because I had told him this stuff before and he already got it. First off: no I hadn’t, but I get why you might think so if female speech sounds like the adults on Charlie Brown episodes to you. Second: if you got it, you wouldn’t be compounding my issues by getting mad at me for being mad at myself. But I HAD to watch Dune, I HAD to go to [random movie], because I was Girlfriend.

        • caryatis said:

          Couldn’t agree more. Whether it’s TV, books, music, whatever…a relationship should be based on more than shared consumption patterns. Rejecting a book or TV show does not equal rejecting all the people who like that thing.

          • TO_Ont said:

            “To be fair, I
            think
            sometimes book
            recommendatio
            ns can be more
            personal and
            that makes it
            feel more like a
            rejection. If it’s
            a matter of,
            “This book/
            movie/show has
            themes that
            resonate with
            me because
            reasons and it’s
            been a
            formative
            experience for
            me, and I want
            to share that
            part of me with
            you so you can
            know me
            better,” sharing
            it can feel very
            vulnerable.”

            Yes, that’s true, and the psychology book is a good example of that. I think it’s easier to realise with books, though, especially fiction, that no two people ever read the exact same book.

            I recall talking about that with my sisters when I was a child, actually, about Anne of Green Gables. ‘No, Mrs. Lynde looks like this!’ ‘No, Marilla’s tone of voice when she says that line is more like that’. We were each experiencing slightly different characters :). And that’s easy to see with books, where it’s literally your own mind creating every image, every sound, every smell, every sensation. You’re very much a co-creator in the story. Someone else has written the script, but you’re the director, producer, all the actors, the set designer, the special effects.

            But tv and movies still have that co-creative aspect; ultimately they’re still experienced in the world of our own brain. It’s just more subtle because the visual images and sounds are put there for us. So it’s easier to have the illusion that everyone’s Mary Poppins is the same Mary Poppins.

          • TO_Ont said:

            That was meant to be a reply to Xenophile, obviously!

        • mamacitaconpistoles said:

          I don’t agree about that. It must be a YMMV sort of thing. One of the great pleasures of reading, for me, is talking about books with other readers. The very best convo I’ve had with my bro in a long time was last year about Kipling’s novel Kim. Just wonderful- we stayed up way late into the night and the fact we liked it for different reasons makes it so much better. One of the great conversations of my life, and made me feel really close to him.

          The best dates I have been on have been Read Out Loud dates, too.

          I guess the point is, it doesn’t matter what the media is. It doesn’t matter, really, what your approach is. What matters is having healthy, compatible conversations about the consumption of media.

          Which is obviously something that can vary, if the CACommenters Massive is anything to go by.

          • Xenophile said:

            A Read Out Loud Date sounds like the best! Thanks for the idea.

          • Some of my happiest nights with The Ex were spent reading P.G. Wodehouse aloud in funny voices.

          • mamacitaconpistoles said:

            Xenophile, it’s a really good way to spend a companionable, chill, hour or two with someone you are getting to like!

        • Muddie Mae said:

          ” I actually felt like ‘you’d see how weird this is if you replaced TV show with books, right’? I think because there’s more of an acceptance, usually, of reading as an intensely private activity.”

          This is true, but it’s kind of an interesting shift over the last 100 years or so. Prior to radio and then television, reading was often a social activity. Printed materials, lighting, literacy and free time were all more rare at the time. There are some great old photos (possibly Jacob Riis, I’m not sure) of families doing piecework while one person reads to the group.

          Anywhoo, funny how things can change.

        • mamacitaconpistoles said:

          Ugh- I posted a comment through the App that went awry. But the TL;DR of that is… reading is private for you. And that’s fine! Great! But reading for me is a social activity. I love talking about books! My most favorite convo in a long time with a brother was about Kim, and it made me feel really close to him. Out Loud Reading Dates have been some of my favorites.

          It’s not about this or that media form, or this or that show. It’s- do you have healthy and compatible ways of sharing or not sharing whatever thing it is you do that you like? You could swap in anything. TV, books, knitting, gardening, soap box speech giving, fixing cars, sewing complex dongle holders for your cords. Unless they are things terrible people do, like recreational shoplifting from struggling small businesses, it’s really irrelevant what that THING is.

          • TO_Ont said:

            Maybe I should reword – reading CAN be an intensely private thing, and I think there’s perhaps a greater acceptance of the idea that it’s sometimes very private or individual.

    • jess said:

      Similar reaction here- my siblings and I were not allowed to watch much TV or movies growing up, and I’ve never really gotten into it. I did watch The Wire and some Buffy and some Mad Men and some Parks and Rec (so, 4 shows in the past 8 years) but I definitely don’t care about it the way the LW and many of the commenters seem to. If my boyfriend loved TV, I’d probably take that time to pursue my other hobbies that he doesn’t participate in. I enjoy having some hobbies in common with him and some different interests.

      • MrsMorley said:

        There are a small number of tv shoes I love. My bf loves having the tv on. Much of the time he’s “watching” I’m reading.

        For some people — like us I guess! — being in the same room, occasionally commenting to each other even if it’s not about what’s on tv, is mutual grooming and sharing.

        Maybe because I don’t care about much of what’s on tv, when I say let’s watch Rizzoli and Isles, we do.

        And in exchange for knowing that he will watch everything I suggest, I’ll stay in the living room and read, just to be together.

        • Chocomoholic said:

          Yeah my husband just likes it when we’re in the same room together. I love reading; always have, always will. He doesn’t have the patience to read an entire book. In fact, over the last 2 years the only book I’ve seen him read was a book about Ebola that he was thoroughly fascinated with, and he didn’t even finish that!

          He likes video games. He likes difficult video games that sometimes require a lot of strategic planning and re-doing the same thing over and over and over again until you finally get it right. Just… games that are really difficult and that most people would give up on a lot quicker. We’ve got a nice chair in our computer office; I’ll sit in there and read while he plays video games.

          Sometimes I’ll play video games with him (when he finds one we can play together that I will like), sometimes I read and then he’ll watch a TV show he knows I’m not interested in (which is very hard to find; I tend to watch/read just about anything). But All this to say yes, I agree, it’s nice to just be in the same room together.

          • MrsMorley said:

            Yeah, my other half also plays some video games. I don’t. (Except for Samorost like point and click). But yes, same room, very nice.

  26. kylee said:

    “Pressure is the enemy of enjoyment.”

    I need to get that tattooed somewhere. There’s a webcomic that’s said to have a slow first act, and get wild and crazy in the second act — I’ll admit I didn’t get too far into it. But the pressure made me feel like the comic was a romantic prospect who kept calling and begging me to give them another chance after a bad first date. Or, I suppose, who had gotten our mutual friends to talk up how great they were, and how I would love them once I really got to know them. Maybe there’d be a reference to wedding bells. First dates can be awkward! After the awkwardness clears, a couple can connect, and find out they’re actually amazing together. Or maybe they’re not right for each other at that time, but later in life when they’ve matured a bit or reached different places in their lives, they’re perfect.

    But when it’s pressure, pressure, pressure, the line gets crossed from Nice Guy Doggedness to God I Hate That Guy.

    So! That is my analogy. Introducing someone to a new piece of media is like matchmaking. You want them to like the prospect you picked, you see how compatible they are, but you can’t force chemistry.

    • Xenophile said:

      I love this metaphor!

    • Laughing Giraffe said:

      “You HAVE TO read The Invisibles. Oh my god, it will change your life! How can you claim to like comics and never have read it?! Seriously, it’s the best series of the 90s!”
      I read it and while I didn’t dislike it, actually thought it was pretty good, it didn’t revolutionize my way of thinking. For one thing, it felt a bit like Grant Morrison was sitting next to me and yelling, “FREE YOUR MIND! QUESTION AUTHORITY! DOWN WITH THE MAN!” directly in my ear, which, um, thank you Grant, I get it (“TAKE DRUGS!”). I basically came to the conclusion that the gentle tinkling music that always seems to accompany discussions of Morrison is actually the sound of overenthusiastic fanboys (rarely fangirls) wetting themselves at the mention of his name.
      That’s harsh. People are allowed to like what they like. But yeah, rein it in sometimes, kids.

      • boutet said:

        For the “change your life” aspect, I think that sometimes people forget that that sort of thing is the combination of a really personally meaningful bit of media coming along at exactly the right time for you personally to take a lot out of. I read books in my teens that were major life-changing experiences because they gave me a better understanding of my world and my experiences at that time. If I read them now for the first time it wouldn’t be the same because it wouldn’t be speaking to me the same way.
        My kind of silly example is Mercedes Lackey. I didn’t know that homosexuality -existed- until I read her books. So she was huge for me, major life-altering reading. Now I can’t stand her writing, her characters, her body-shaming, etc. So I could say to a 13 year old in a seriously religious upbringing in the 80’s that reading her could change their life, but not to a 40 year old out living in a wider world now.

        • My ‘change your life’ book is the Chtorr series by David Gerrold. On the surface, it’s a series about alien caterpillars eating people. But there’s also a lot of talk throughout about responsibility and what it means to fully embrace it. I read it young…around the same time my mother suffered a traumatic brain injury and ended up with short term memory loss and cognitive problems. My take away from that series was basically that responsibility is ALL OR NOTHING and if you can’t do it all the way 100% all the time YOU FAIL YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE AND THAT IS BAD.

          So…it did change my life in a really profound way and basically ended up forming the basis for my entire moral code. It’s really only in the past ten years that I’ve started kind of realizing this way of thinking screwed me up. Even so, I still reread the books constantly and recc the hell out of them, because they are really important to me. But I also realize that they won’t have the same meaning to anyone else, so if someone isn’t interested, that’s fine. Even if someone *does* read them, I still don’t expect them to realign their entire inner landscape like I did. When we sit down to watch a show or read a book, we need to realize the experience isn’t static. We’re not just absorbing images or words…we’re *interacting* with the media and bringing pieces of our past along with us for the ride. Every person who sits down with the show or book will have a unique experience, and it doesn’t honor the things that are meaningful to us when we insist that everyone else should have the same reaction or even interest. When we do so, we remove ourselves from the equation, but the power of that media is that its message was private and touched something raw and vulnerable within us.

        • Xenophile said:

          I think “life changing” media is often an artifact of the time in which it was made. I LOVED the X-Files when it first aired, and it was such a formative, meaningful part of my adolescence. (John Hodgeman’s TED talk basically sums up a lot of the themes that spoke to me as a lonely 12 year old) However, watching it as an adult, I see how it really, really REALLY hasn’t aged well, and perhaps wasn’t that good to begin with, but it was ground-breaking for the mid-90s. I know various people who have tried to get into it and don’t see the appeal, but I think, like Rent, was pretty specific to a certain time period and doesn’t necessarily speak as well to a contemporary audience.

          • bloodygranuaile said:

            This is sort of how I feel about Xena. I have some friends that love Xena. Xena has all the stuff I love in TV shows. If I could go back in time and change one thing about my childhood, I would make it so I’d have started watching Xena when it was actually airing, because OMG trying to get into it now it’s just so NINETIES I cannot handle it.

        • Eve of Destruction said:

          This is a really great point, boutet. My life-changing book was Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, which I read in high school. I ran around excitedly recommending it to people as describing this amazing new way of thinking about religion and spirituality. It took years before I realized that anybody who has at least a Wikipedia-level understanding of Buddhism is not going to have their mind blown, like, at all.

          I try to use I-statements when I gush about the latest thing “I like it because…” or “I didn’t know until I saw this that…” and leave it up to the other person to decide if that means they might want to experience it. Sometimes it’s hard to fill in those blanks without spoilers, though. One ex told me he was never going to watch True Blood, so go ahead and spoil it for him since I wanted to talk about it so much. Only after I spilled major plot points did he decide it sounded cool enough to go on his list.

          • Jenna said:

            There are some people, like me, who don’t actually care all that much about spoilers. I don’t read books or watch movies for the SURPRISE hidden somewhere inside it. If the surprise is all there is, I will probably be not all that interested in it, overall. I do need characters that I care about. I like having a good story arc. If I love a book I will reread the heck out of it. I replay video games if I like the story enough. I reread mystery books that I love, because I loved the characters and the story and I need to revisit them.
            No. Spoilers generally don’t bother me. Telling me the story to try to get me interested in seeing the movie or reading the book may actually work.
            Until it is discussed with someone, I don’t know if spoiling is a problem for someone or not. I have one friend who does want a spoiler if an important character is going to die. We have discussed this. If I know, I tell her.
            That said, there was a thing(two things?) in Frozen that I kept quiet about till my friend who also doesn’t care about spoilers had seen it, because for Disney it was such a departure from protocol.

        • Vicki said:

          Science fiction fans sometimes say “the golden age of science fiction is 12,” which doesn’t apply just to science fiction. An idea or kind of story has a much better chance of being new and shiny if you read it at 12 or 16 than if you read the exact same story for the first time when you’re 25 or 30 or 45. Meanwhile, the book you read or show you watched and fell in love with young because it had that shininess and all those new ideas will be “yeah, seen it before” to someone else who didn’t come across it at the same time.

          It’s easy to overlook that when you’re saying “you’ve gotta read/watch/listen to this, I’ve loved it all my life!”

    • Dove said:

      Aheh. Is the webcomic Homestuck, by any chance? Because…yeah. It is a very slow first act, but – definitely, if you’re not feeling it, it’ll be there later if you change your mind.
      I’d like to hope that I haven’t done this to people, with regards to the comic? Because it’s, well – I’d have behaved rather badly, in my opinion, if I had. And without much excuse, considering that I put the comic down for a long while and wandered off to go do other things before coming back to read through from the beginning.

      (That said, it is (perhaps unfortunately) true that “let me tell you about Homestuck” is a meme for a reason. The fans tend to be, ah, enthusiastic.)

  27. Beth said:

    I can really relate to LW’s husband’s reason for resisting the Wire because I have depression and tend to be careful about what I watch solely on that account before I even think about whether the subject matter interests me. How good my mood is, how fragile it is and whether I want to watch something contrary to my mood or confirming it will influence a lot of my TV decisions. So the idea of someone forcing a really intense drama show on me when I’m not in the right emotional place for it literally makes my heart beat faster with anxiety.
    That being said, if you are always watching his shows and never watching yours, maybe it’s time to explore shows together that are new for both of you.

    • Xenophile said:

      +1.

    • Marvel said:

      I am also in the position of empathizing heavily with that part of the letter… there are things I just cannot watch. I’ve had friends who will say things like “but it’s supposed to make you sad!” like I just don’t understand the deepness of their favorites. I’ve gotten very good at saying “I’m already sad enough, thanks!”

    • KellyK said:

      Oh, yeah, same here. My husband is a big fan of House, but House’s disdain for patients (and everybody else) and his casual disregard for pesky things like informed consent hits a pretty raw nerve for me. So he watches in the bedroom with his tablet. The vast majority of the time this works out really well. Sometimes I feel a little lonely doing my own thing in the living room, and sometimes I feel guilty if I “walk in on him” when he’s watching something I won’t watch and he considerately shuts it off and picks up a book. But that’s all solvable stuff and beats arguing over who won’t let who watch what.

      I would really encourage the LW to take your boyfriend at his word when he says a certain show isn’t good mental health wise.

    • +1 to this. I have a whole list of art that I am eager to return to once emotional stability is a thing that I have again. The Wire is actually near the top of this list! Also: Mad Men, House of Cards, and listening to music of any kind.

      OTOH, my husband and I have not-totally-overlapping TV preferences, and I really, really empathize with the frustration of having your best friend who is super intelligent and funny and would TOTALLY LOVE this thing, not actually love the thing. (Doctor Who and Shakespeare. Sigh.)

    • Indira said:

      THANK YOU. I’ve been scrolling through the comments to see if anyone else had picked up on that line. The fact that no one seems to care that boyfriend has depression (and that is a SUPER important reason for not wanting to watch a triggering show) was driving me up the wall. When I’m in the throes of depression/anxiety I have to be super careful about what I watch and the music I listen to or it could mess me up for the entire day or longer. If someone is struggling with depression (even a really mild case) do NOT force them to watch something that they find triggering, regardless of what deals were struck. That’s just cruel and counter-productive to their mental health.

  28. Brassica said:

    The good Captain’s advice is great, and I found particularly useful the paragraph about ways to look at media besides “liked it/disliked it”. Thank you!

    The real reason I’m commenting, though, is to say that these female detectives made me want to put in a (no pressure!!!) recommendation for my current lady-detective love, the Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher. Australian costume drama set in the ’20s- the eponymous main character is smart, feminist, sex positive, moneyed, and wears wonderful clothes, among other positives. I’ve been rationing the episodes on netflix because they are so good.

    • JenniferP said:

      Yes, Miss Fisher, and especially her costume design team. <3!

      • Anothermous said:

        Oh god yes the costume design is drool worthy. I want all of her hats. My husband is also Australian and the shots in and around Melbourne are great for combating his homesickness.

        tl;dr: Miss Fisher 5ever :)

        • nofloyd said:

          The books are awesome! I’ve been tracking down vintage perfumes – they still make Jicky – mixing 20’s drinks. In a few of the stories they did for the tv show, there’s a different ending, and they both work! Many of the episodes, esp season two are not based on the books, so there’s plenty of new for each medium.

          • Anisoptera said:

            Re perfume if you like the old Guerlain fragrances there is also L’Heure Bleu, Mitsouko and Shalimar from the teens/twenties period. None of them smell quite as they did back then – they’ve all been reformulated for a bunch of reasons (cost of ingredients, availability of modern synthetics, some ingredients are now banned, modern perfume tastes are different – especially with regard to animalics) but they’re all still in production and still quite interesting.

            Yes, I basically smell like someone’s (great) grandmother half of the time. :-)

        • evil fizz said:

          Miss Fisher!!

          One of the things I love best about the show is how old the actors who play Phryne and Jack Robinson are. They feel like they’ve come by their sophistication and adulthood honestly and have back stories that make them insightful in a way that is rare in American television.

          And now that I have squee’d about Miss Fisher, I have to confess that I had my sister and a friend who gives great recommendations jumping up and down trying to get me to watch it for the first time and I just wasn’t willing. It wasn’t a content thing, just a not having time/emotional energy to get into something new sort of thing. Having seen it, I’m now obsessed.

          • nofloyd said:

            In season 2 I finally accepted TV Jack Robinson’ as a romantic interest for Phryne. [His smile at the fan dance] At first Jack was the only sour note for me – there are tons – TONS – of light mysteries written with a female detective/protaganist where her boyfriend is the chief of police/official detective. It happens so often, appealing female lead, but when it gets too rough, out comes the boyfriend/with THE POLICE to the rescue her. Phryne is a cut above, as Jack often appears when she’s going to come out on top anyway.

    • A. Y. Mouse said:

      AND was just renewed for a series 3! Coming to ABC Australia in 2015!

    • Xenophile said:

      That sounds great! Thanks for the tip!

  29. commanderlogic said:

    Thing I said to Mr.Logic on our most recent road trip:

    I just finished a re-read of Age of Innocence and it makes me sad that I won’t ever be able to pick your brain about it. I love finding out the way you think about stuff, and if I could just upload it into your head and get your impressions, I totally would. I am NEVER going to ask or expect you to actually read it. Or even watch the movie. Because it is so entirely not Your Thing that it would probably be torture. But is it okay if I blather to you about what I’m thinking about it?

    And the answer was “sure.”

  30. Xenophile said:

    Full disclosure: I’m really, really empathizing with the boyfriend here in large part because my abusive Vader Ex would badger and yell at me for not liking his shows. If the boyfriend doesn’t like The Wire, he doesn’t like The Wire. No amount of pestering him will change that. The best case scenario of course is that he gets into it once the plot picks up, but, if he’s like me, he’ll watch an entire season and wish he’d spent that time doing something else. How much time does he have to invest to convince his partner that he made a reasonable effort? Even if LW were to strap him to a chair and force him to watch Clockwork Orange-style, he might still hate every second of it. The act of watching it is not in and of itself magic that will bring the two of them closer together.

    The Venn diagram of your interests does not have to be a circle. Even geeks have variety in their interests; not everyone likes Joss Whedon or Game of Thrones or Harry Potter, and that’s okay as long as everyone respects everyone’s differences. If the boyfriend were dismissive or judgmental about the LW’s interests I’d be 100% on their side, but I don’t understand why it’s a problem that they gush about Buffy and GoT together but not The Wire.

    • neverjaunty said:

      Yes, this. It’s when there is disrespect – particularly of the “your stuff is stupid because it’s girl stuff” variety – that shit gets toxic.

  31. Jill said:

    I think there’s too much overanalyzing going on here. I’d like to as LW this…does the whole basis of your relationship revolve around TV? The best relationship insight I ever got was from a professor who talked often about how he and his wife “enjoyed doing their own thing together”. Meaning, you’re in close proximity to one another…yet doing your own thing. My husband and I do this all the time – we’re both on the couch but he’s reading and I’m on the computer. sometimes I’m watching my show and he’s nearby surfing the web on his laptop. Can’t you watch your show one nite with him just close by doing his own thing…then next night he gets his show while you do something of your own close by? Is TV really that important that you MUST both watch the same show or watch shows that you don’t like? Isn’t there more to love and companionship than what you have playing on the idiot box?

    • Xenophile said:

      +1.

    • southerngirl said:

      People’s relationships all work in different ways. My boyfriend and I watch TV shows together because we’re both doing graduate study, and need a relaxing activity which we can share, and that doubles as spending time together. Saying that there’s something wrong with a relationship where TV shows are an important shared activity is overly harsh. It’s only a problem is it isn’t working for one or more of the parties. Different strokes for different folks :)

      • Cactus said:

        Yeah, my fiancé and I have a combination of your thing and Jill’s going on: there are many times when I will be hanging out on the couch reading blogs on my phone/laptop, and he’ll be on his desktop playing video games. Or I’ll be reading a book or writing and he’ll be watching something on his phone or desktop (or my laptop.) This is during-the-day downtime. But during the evening, when we’re eating dinner, we both watch something on his desktop together, and it should be something we agree on (or agree to TRY, there have certainly been movies we thought we might like and ended up hating).

    • Marvel said:

      I think you’re assuming a little more than can really be gleaned from this letter. The LW’s writing under a word limit about a specific problem they are having; ergo, their letter is about said problem and omits other information. There’s absolutely no reason to assume that their entire relationship comes down to what they’re watching on the “idiot box” (really dislike that term). The way I’m reading it, the most we can say is that they are both very into particular television shows, and they’d like to share that hobby. That hardly constitutes “the whole basis of their relationship.”

    • LW said:

      We don’t live together, so we enjoy spending time together watching and discussing shows. I haven’t watched anything I disliked, and I’ve never forced anything on him (beyond asking that he give the first episode of the wire a try). This was also a pretty dismissive comment – naturally our relationship isn’t about tv, and calling it an “idiot box” I’m sure was just a flippant comment, but implying that I don’t think there are more important things in life than television shows kinda sucks.

    • JenniferP said:

      Calling it “the idiot box” does not lend your arguments credibility btw

      • mamacitaconpistoles said:

        Duuuuude. Calling TV the idiot box in the comments of a column of a writer who also is a film maker and obviously likes TV and values it is about a question having to do with the importance of screen media… is a bit tone deaf. To say the very least.

    • bloodygranuaile said:

      I know that the “alone together” thing works for a lot of people but for some people it just really doesn’t, for varying levels of “doesn’t work” that range from “I’m not getting much out of this” to “Holy fucking God why the hell are you doing this to me, if you don’t either fucking talk to me already or let me go the hell home and have some *actual* time to myself, I’m going to have an emotional breakdown; I feel like I’m being Kept Conveniently On Hand like I’m your goddamn phone or something.” I personally am pretty strongly on the “either we’re doing stuff together or we’re not, pick one already” end of things*, but I try not to go around sneering at people for whom together-alone-ness works. I imagine that “how important consuming and discussing various forms of storytelling is in somebody’s relationship” is variable in much the same way.

      (*Actually, right now, I’m personally on the ‘no romantic situation could possibly be worth even the possibility of having to navigate one more bullshit “I feel ignored when you ignore me” “Waaaaaaaaaah I feel so unloved that you have opinions about how I treat you” conversation’ end of things so I am maybe too embittered to be asking for dating advice. I still try not to sneer at people who do date, though.)

  32. Anon said:

    OP, like the people above said, if he refuses to do things with you simply because you’re the one who brings them up, that’s a problem, but you really gotta knock this off.

    Me, I had no opinion on Whedonverse stuff until what felt like every nerd in the city told me I HAD TO watch his shows, it was IMPERATIVE. I think I’ve been shown the Buffy musical episode literally four different times – there I was sitting in the room with everyone else singing along and I was like. I. don’t. care. And you know? I might have liked the shows had everyone laid off. (Except Dollhouse. Dollhouse freaked me out.) But I’m not spending weeks and months and years of my life watching every show to please people who don’t respect my autonomy as a human being.

    • Anisoptera said:

      What is with everyone force feeding other people the Buffy musical episode? I love Buffy but that episode would mean literally nothing to someone who hadn’t already been watching the show and was familiar with the characters and ongoing plots and so on. It’s kind of cool in context, but out of context it must just be the most annoying thing ever.

      Like…you can’t show someone your favourite episode of a show that’s been going for years and expect it to mean anything to them. You have to start with episode 1 and hope they get into it (and back off if they don’t).

  33. human said:

    Ooh, I hope this isn’t too OT but since there are a lot of enthusiastic TV watchers in this thread…

    My issue with TV shows is I just never manage to find time to watch them. I know this about myself and accept it. There are a lot of cool shows (The Wire included) that my geeky friends like which I’m sure I’d love if I watched them, but I have a busy life and I tend to prefer books over tv/movies; and all my screen time goes to messing about on the internet or, occasionally, playing video games.

    People like to talk about TV shows as getting to know you small talk and I can’t really participate, and sometimes when I explain that I don’t watch a lot of TV people seem to think I am judging them for watching TV. I’m really not. I recognize TV can be awesome storytelling and a good way to couple/family-socialize. I wish there were a million hours in the day so I could watch all these cool shows, too, but since there aren’t…

    Anyway. Any suggestions for how to navigate that TV-small-talk conversation without making people think that I think they are losers for spending time watching TV?

    • Muddie Mae said:

      There is just SO MUCH available TV-wise right now that you can easily deflect, I think. “Oh, I haven’t had a chance to check that one out…” “That hasn’t made it to the top of my queue quite yet…” No one needs to know your queue is mixed media and mostly filled with books.

      I legit love TV as a storytelling medium and I say some variation on the above constantly. With a gajillion producers of TV out there and the internet also giving us easy access to 50 years of back catalog and foreign shows, there’s just a lot to watch.

    • MsM said:

      This only works if you’re interested and don’t mind being spoiled, but I find that keeping up with review blogs for a few of the shows that come up really frequently at my workplace or with friends lets me say, “Oh, I haven’t watched it, but I know everyone’s been buzzing about X and Y. What did you think?”

  34. “It’s okay
    to not like things.
    It’s okay
    but don’t be a dick about it.”

    • If the goal is getting to know each other, you can try “I haven’t seen that, but tell me something about why you like it.” If you ask for “no spoilers,” you can *sometimes* morph it into a wider conversation about sci fi or travel or whatever they like about the show.

  35. SassQueen said:

    I once had a bet w/ the hubs where my winning the bet meant I could make him watch three movies of my choice that he would otherwise not watch. I promised him that I would only pick movies I thought he would enjoy, even if he didn’t think so ahead of time.

    It was kind of neat. It took me a while to pick them (over a period of 4-5 years I think), because I really wanted to make sure he would like them. They were French Kiss (silly movie, but the “you people make my ass twitch” line is teh greatest), Juno, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He liked all three.

    • One of The Signs that my last BF and I weren’t good for each other: he would recommend movies/books, I would consume them, about 85% of the time I would hate them. He got annoyed when I stopped taking his recommendations about 85% of the time. (Yes, the 15% of things he recommended that I enjoyed are the ones that I just didn’t know about and, once apprised of their existence, was thrilled to consume.) I made far fewer recommendations and he either ignored them or… wait for it… was very surprised by his enjoyment of the media I had recommended. So basically I was right a lot but he never learned to treat me like I may know what I’m talking about*.

      *Yes, this part where I can’t know what I’m talking about was true across subjects, not just in media.

  36. A former boyfriend of mine would not only push me to watch/read his beloved media (“It’s really important to me!”), if I didn’t like it he would be offended and take it as a reflection of my feelings for him as a person and–get this–declare that I didn’t respect his opinions. Don’t be that guy (or gal), LW! Personally, there are a dozen books on my shelf that are “really important to me” that my current BF hasn’t gotten around to reading, even though I know he’ll really like them based on his tastes. But the best way to guarantee he never reads them (and possibly breaks up with me) is to shove them in his face and make reading them a condition of our relationship.

  37. Zatchmort said:

    Cap, I love the discussion of the larger issue. I used to do the “I can’t believe you haven’t seen X” thing before, about media and also factual info – hard not to get into the habit if you live in a house full of enthusiastic and occasionally pedantic nerds – but I’ve been trying hard not to since a friend mentioned that it made her uncomfortable. Now when I catch myself or someone else doing it, I just say with exaggerated drama, “You don’t know about the Purple Wombat?!” (http://rinkworks.com/jokes/search.cgi?words=purple+wombat) and the tension eases.

    XKCD has a nice take on this as well: https://xkcd.com/1053/

    • festinalente8 said:

      Is there any situation where there ISNT a relevant XKCD? I <3 Randall

    • MrsMorley said:

      Yeah, and I didn’t know about the diet coke and mentos thing til I was middle aged! How wonderful it was to see it :)

    • Phoebastria said:

      I’ve been slowly reading through the comments on my phone hoping someone had brought up that xkcd comic. It really encouraged me to change the way I engage with other people about stuff I love. I thought “omg you haven’t seen it!?” was just the standard script and didn’t recognize the bad feelings it gave me when I was on the receiving end.

  38. twomoogles said:

    This is an excellent post and thread, I think. I’m going to comment more on the “pressure to like certain media” aspect than the relationship dynamic. My boyfriend and I have pretty dissimilar tastes (he likes anime, I like crime shows) but there are a few things we both like. But, it seems like there are a few things that in Geek Culture you just *can’t* say without everyone trying to argue you out of it. The big one for me is Firefly. I *liked* Firefly! I really did! But people’s constantly talking about it, and trying to make me love the aspects of it that I didn’t love, still years later, have made me start to grit my teeth every time it comes up. I am glad that I watched it before this hype overload happened, because I am pretty sure I would’ve been more resistant to watching it, or else been more critical while watching.

    Also, media hatedoms frustrate me. Especially because it seems like they are very very frequently directed at things that are popular with teenage girls. I feel like often “bad role model” is used as an excuse to go off on something popular with women in order to be able to do so and not look sexist. Why does it seem nobody ever cares if a male character is a good or bad ‘role model’ but if a female character isn’t perfect/’strong enough etc, she’s a bad role model? Sorry, I know that’s a bit off topic, but the Captain’s comments on “you suck if you like this” really struck a chord with me.

    • Erin said:

      Yes. If people really hate on stuff that is “feminine” or never discuss PoC characters and so on, it’s kinda obvious. And I wouldn’t find it suspicious if there was as much hate towards bland white male leads, but there just isn’t.

    • Xenophile said:

      “I *liked* Firefly! I really did! But people’s constantly talking about it, and trying to make me love the aspects of it that I didn’t love, still years later, have made me start to grit my teeth every time it comes up.”

      I absolutely dread conversations about the Whedonverse. I love Firely and Dr. Horrible with all my heart, and really enjoyed the Avengers, but truly loathe Serenity, Dollhouse, Buffy, and Agents of Shield. If a conversation starts with, “Did you see the update about Dr. Horrible 2?” it will always end with, “But you would just LOVE Buffy if you’d only give it a chance!” Every time.

      • twomoogles said:

        You and I have a pretty much identical take on Whedon’s stuff, except that I’ve never seen Agents of Shield. also, Dr Horrible 2????

      • Cactus said:

        Yeah, I…liked…Dr. Horrible, Buffy, and Firefly (Firefly more than the others)…but I don’t think I loved them. I only saw the first two seasons of Buffy, that was over a year ago, and I’m not clamoring for more (favorite characters dying tends to do that). Serenity didn’t thrill me (way too jumpy). So I tend to deflect from all Whedon-related discussion.

    • A. Y. Mouse said:

      I feel similar; the only thing things Whedon has ever touched that I enjoyed were The Avengers and Firefly, and I give credit there to the other writers rather than to him. One of my litmus tests for a relationship is “does not flip out about my not liking Whedon AT ALL.”

      Because “(dis)respects my taste/dislike of This One Popular Guy” is an indicator of whether they’ll also (dis)respect me/my decisions/my boundaries in other areas of life. (If they won’t stop about Buffy, how can I trust them to stop about other more important things?)

    • thegirlfrommarz said:

      The big one for me is Firefly. I *liked* Firefly! I really did! But people’s constantly talking about it, and trying to make me love the aspects of it that I didn’t love, still years later, have made me start to grit my teeth every time it comes up.

      Me too – I enjoyed Firefly, but I didn’t and still don’t feel like its cancellation is the Worst Thing That Ever Happened.

      Buffy came along when I was just becoming an adult and trying to figure out who I wanted to be, so it spoke to me on a really deep level (young men had a heck of a lot of bildungsroman stuff to choose from at that point, young women… not so much). But I get why other people don’t like it or think its problematic, and sometimes those are the most interesting conversations to have about it.

      With Firefly, I was partly just disappointed that after the awesomeness of having a young woman as the outright lead in Buffy, Whedon delivered a variation of wisecracking, cool, maverick guy as the main character. So my lack of love for Firefly wasn’t so much about what it was, as what it wasn’t.

  39. Sparky said:

    The show Modern Family had an episode where Phil ignored anything Claire, his wife, recommended, but checked out anything else recommended by anyone but Claire. Here is a clip of Claire losing it over Phil telling her how wonderful wedge salads http://www.aoltv.com/2011/02/24/wedge-salad-modern-family/ . I’m not sure this is exactly what is happening with the LW and their boyfriend though.

    • uttereast said:

      Hahaha I thought of this episode as well. Modern Family is a nice show, it’s funny without being cynical.

  40. festinalente8 said:

    Excuse to use my favourite TV quote of all time, from Bunk “There you go, givin’ a fuck when it aint your TURN to give a fuck”. A spurious connection to the substance of the letter, i’ll grant :)

  41. festinalente8 said:

    Oh yeah and this one time, I said that I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about re: Firefly in my circle of nerds and they for months were like NO BUT IT ARE GUD! YOU NEED TO WATCH IT MOAR TIEMS! And it made me go from ‘space pirates – what even are they?/its just not really my thing’ to flat out hating it. My lovely geek boyfriend just shrugged and said whateves, I like it but you dont have to. AND he told the others to can it. Which was nice

  42. Greg said:

    When I recommend a show to someone, I try to also tell them which episode(s) are representative enough that if they don’t like that episode, they won’t like the show. For example, with Lost I tell them to watch the first four episodes (ie through Locke’s first flashback) and if they’re not hooked, they never will be. For Battlestar Galactica, it’s the miniseries and the first episode after (“33″). For Firefly, the pilot will do. I think the problem with The Wire is that it’s super dense and doesn’t hold your hand right from the beginning, so you kind of need to watch all or most of the first season before you know whether you like it, and most people don’t have that kind of patience.

    • Myrin said:

      I really like that approach!

    • Chocomoholic said:

      I found Breaking Bad to be much the same way. The first season really establishes the characters, but it can be a bit… long, I guess. I didn’t really get into it until Season 2, but stuck with it because my husband was so excited about it. He still thinks it’s one of the best shows out there… for me I liked it, but there are other shows I much prefer.

    • thegirlfrommarz said:

      I always recommend that people watch the first 3-4 episodes of S1 The Wire to know if they like it as you need a bit of time to adjust. Generation Kill is the same way – there’s absolutely no concession to the fact that all this is probably new to the viewer and none of the jargon is explained – you sort of need to immerse yourself in it for a while before it starts to make sense. I find the same thing with watching Shakespeare – it takes about ten minutes to adjust to the language. But I do think you need to give The Wire more than one episode before you know if you will like it, so that’s still asking people to watch 3-4 hours of TV that they might not like.

      My ex and I didn’t realise that BSG started with the mini-series so we started with what we thought was the beginning: the first ep of S1 (“33″). Damn, was that confusing. :)

    • My usual approach is to give a show up to three episodes to hook me, so that seems like a pretty reasonable way of recommending things. (Though “up to” really depends on the pilot. I couldn’t get into Orange Is The New Black until I gave myself permission to skip the pilot entirely and wouldn’t have watched it at all if I’d sat through that whole episode. FUCK the first 20 minutes was boring.)

  43. Glorificus said:

    I can be very resistant to recommendations. There are some family issues wherein recommendations are their way of letting you know you aren’t up to snuff. It can be diet, appearance, music, tv, movies, books, where I live, even what my major should have been and what my career should have been (I like History and I’m not actually aged out of having a career as of yet). This can make it a little dicey when the partner and other friends want to share their cool thing! I have to sort through all sorts of “is that a *must* I don’t do must, should and ought are on shaky ground too.”
    I try to be aware of that when I have an obsession or fandom going on. I recently watched 7 seasons of a show before I got bored and I don’t think I recommended it to anyone. If a friend asks about cool new thing, I ask them how much they want to know and if I should avoid spoilers in case they ever want to be into cool new thing.
    Pressure to try cool new thing can make it so It Will Never Happen. My partner really wants me to try video games, I’ve never been interested, every time he brings it up it makes it less and less likely that I will do it. If he could give me awhile to come to the idea on my own, no pressure, I probably would. (I don’t know, I have literally never been interested in video games of any description.)
    OTOH this applies to everyone not just my partner so YMMV.

  44. Gidgette said:

    Hubs and I have intersecting but not identical tastes in TV and it works out pretty awesomely actually. I’m a bit of a night owl and he’s a bit of an early bird so I will be up an hour later than he, and he gets up an hour before me most days, so we use that time for our own shows. He likes Arrow, Dollhouse, and some anime (which i don’t enjoy at all); meanwhile I enjoy detective shows and dress porn (period comedies and the very occasional drama), which he hasn’t got the patience for. We also watch an episode or two of a shared-interest show during the evening. Just finished all of Buffy, now we’re working through Alias and Elementary(which is a detective show, but he adores Lucy Liu as much as I do so we both enjoy it even though it would normally be a ‘me’ thing. Gosh that woman is lovely).
    Maybe just… don’t worry about it? If he’s reasonable he won’t mind you spoiling it since he doesn’t seem to be into watching it, and you can say your piece about the episodes/storylines and get feedback in a slightly less specific way? Like “oh my land I am so angry with Bucky for driving off the cliff in the latest episode because he promised Joe that he would bring the stolen diamonds back once the body was cremated and he should have KNOWN the brakes were out because the children’s choir was targeting him!!! What was he thinking!!” and he could be all “but you said Jesse already had the diamonds and what about Alessandra and the doughnuts from last week?” or whatever. Or “that does seem pretty thoughtless but maybe there’s a clue in a previous episode?” I dunno.

  45. Bookwyrm said:

    After reading all these comments, I think I’m going to delete the phrase “You should/must/have to” from my vocab when I’m recommending something. Instead, I’m going to make an effort to start saying, “You might want to check out this book/TV show/movie/comic. I think you would enjoy it.”

    • staranise said:

      Starting a couple years ago I’ve made an effort to delete the words “should/must/ought/have to” from my vocabulary wholesale, and it is an absolute head trip. I recommend trying it out, if only because it makes you be much more precise about who is feeling what with the wherenow.

  46. Marvel said:

    Eesh. LW, it really concerns me that you are considering continuing to pressure him to watch something that he has already said might cause his depression to worsen. The Captain has given some excellent advice here, thankfully, but I would also try to (and I hate this phrase but I can’t think what to replace it with) look at the “big picture” a bit. If your show is taking priority over your boyfriend’s mental health, your relationship may be in a whole lot of trouble.

    Your feelings are all totally valid things to feel! I’ve been there; my partner picks out most of the media we consume, and we’ve had some talks about him trying stuff I like before, with moderate improvement thereafter. But in this case, it really sounds like it’s time to let this one go.

    • LW said:

      I haven’t brought it up since the initial conversation, and have also apologized for pushing it. I take his concerns about his depression seriously, and I think in my initial letter I didn’t phrase that very well. Just hoping to put your worries at ease, I’ve seen firsthand how dismissive people can be about depression and I wouldn’t want to do the same to him.

    • Yeah, it also jumped out to me as potentially red-flag-y that the LW seems to be prioritizing “boyfriend watches a show I like” over “boyfriend takes care of his mental health.” LW, please, just back off and trust your boyfriend when he says he needs to take care of his brain.

      I know there are some shows that I just can’t watch because they influence my anxiety in bad ways (like Supernatural, even though a bunch of my friends love it and the main characters are incredibly hot). If my partner tried to pressure me into watching them, and ignored my clear statements that they weren’t good for my brain right now, that would be so many kinds of not ok. Just don’t do it.

      If, as a bunch of people have mentioned upthread, the problem is that your boyfriend always ignores your recommendations but follows other people’s, then address that. But don’t pressure him into sacrificing his mental health for a show you like.

    • Toestands said:

      +1

      I guess if you yourself don’t have any kind of bad brain problems, it can sound rather silly that a show might make them worse. But trust me on this: it really, really can. There are shows that I avoid like the plague because just five minutes of them would cause me to crash. I still haven’t got past the Teen Wolf episode called Echo House. I tried, having been warned that it contained stuff that might be triggery, but nine seconds in I had to stop because just the ominous beginning was causing me too much distress.

      Not watching things that are bad for you is a really good thing. If your bf never listening to your suggestions is the problem, then it’s a completely different issue. You’re allowed to feel sad that people you care about don’t like the same things you do, but please know that self-care always comes before pleasing somone else, even when it’s someone you really like.

      • Man the end of season three Teen Wolf is DARK. Especially for anyone who has issues surrounding being able to trust their own mind/perceptions because that is I think the real horror of Stiles’ storyline there.

  47. Myrin said:

    The thing for me is, I’m not a big TV/movie person as a whole. I have some shows and films I adore and re-watch frequenty, but I’m not generally interested in watching a whole lot – even if you look at a media product that would theoretically be right up my alley regarding e.g. storyline, worldbuilding, or characters, I’ll probably not get into it because it’s the act of watching TV that isn’t my thing. So something must sound extraordinarily cool to me to even consider watching it, and someone wanting to pester me into it would highly likely result in the opposite.

    I also tend to not overly enjoy “classics” or stuff that is considered such in geek culture. I’ve seen the three old Star Wars movies eight or so years ago and liked them and have indeed lately felt like watching them again, but I’m not over the moon for them. I read all the Harry Potter books when they came out but that was about it re: my investment in it. I only saw the very last movie because I stayed at friends’ at the time and they all wanted to see it so I tacked along but I was completely indifferent to it even while watching. I’ve never seen the LOTR movies; I read the books and thought they were absolutely horrible and although I guess what I disliked about them can’t be as prominent in the movies, I don’t go out of my way to watch them, either. All of these things have elicited “WHAAAAAAAAAT?” responses before but thankfully only insofar as people were honestly surprised about it but didn’t go in a pressuring direction.

    The pressure thing I’ve only ever experienced once and it was in the weirdest of circumstances really. I’m part of an anime fansite where a friend of mine publishes both her fanfics and her original work. I think she’s a fantastic writer, I do beta work for her, and have yet to read anything by her that I don’t enjoy. She also has quite a big readerbase at that site. Now sometime ago (it’s probably been two years already, now that I think about it) a person whose name I vaguely recognised as someone who was a frequent commenter at friend’s stories contacted me to share opinion’s of friend’s latest chapter because she saw we left similar comments or something. It was a pleasant exchange until she asked me if I knew [other author]‘s works. I said I did but didn’t really like it. Cue “OMG HOW CAN U I DON’T UNDERSTAND” to an extent I was blown away by. Things like “But you HAVE TO read this story” and “But it’s so GOOD!” and “But her writing style is suuuuuper similar to [my friend]‘s, so how can you not like it?!?!” (it is, but it’s the content I didn’t like) and just wow. All around wow. I told her I had a look into all of the praised author’s stories (true) but just couldn’t get into it and she then grudgingly accepted that as a sufficient enough reason (why thank you, gracious internet stranger) and we haven’t had contact ever since but man was that irritating.

    • Beth B said:

      YES YES YES to this. I’m a lot more willing to take a chance on a book I’m not sure whether I’ll enjoy, because I find reading easy and relaxing, and if I don’t like it I’ll just put the book down without regretting the time I spent in coming to that conclusion. Watching tv and movies — in general, but especially live-action — isn’t really my thing, and I have to be in just the right mood, or certain enough that I’ll love a thing to push through into watching something despite not being in the right mood. It’s work to me; it can be fun, but more often it’s irritating, and even when I love a show or movie it’s not relaxing.

      I have a friend who’s kind of the opposite. She watches tv and movies as background noise all the time, but reading is, as I understand it, more active work for her — even though it’s also a hobby she enjoys, and we trade book recommendations back and forth.

      Getting the “OMG YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS YOU’LL LOVE IT” pressure just puts my shoulders up around my ears — because no, I very likely won’t love it even if it’s worth loving, and I very likely won’t get around to watching it even if I firmly intend to. I’d much rather get “Oh, well, I totally recommend it — I love it because of XYZ!” and then the subject dropped. That’s infinitely more likely to give me a pleasant association with the thing, so that on the next occasion I feel up to watching tv or a movie I might remember it and think “hmm, XYZ do sound fun” and give it a try.

    • I’ve fallen asleep during many of the most loved movies of the modern day. :)

      • Myrin said:

        Aaah, I cannot fall asleep while watching a movie I haven’t seen yet. I almost said I can’t fall asleep during TV at all but then I remembered how I had to stop one of my favourite movies just last year because I was so darn tired. But apart from that it’s like my body wants me to know the ending no matter how tired/bored/indifferent I am. I have to physically turn off the TV for my brain to turn off, too.
        But that phenomenon aside, I know that feel (without the actually falling asleep part).

  48. rarefied said:

    I can see where his not wanting to watch something that is so important to you can be hurtful, but I can also see his POV. I haven’t wanted to watch the Wire for similar reasons, and there are shows that all my friends have tried to get me to watch that I refuse to watch because I know they would be too upsetting to me (GOT, SOA). It’s frustrating, but people just have different tastes and he probably knows better than anyone what he likes and what he can stand.

    I think it can be indicative of a deeper problem if he consistently won’t do or watch things you suggest (but will when someone else suggests the same thing). I had a friend for many years who was always the one suggesting, but would never take my suggestions and even tear them down, whether music, movies, or a new TV show. We had a writing project where everything went well as long as we were using her plot ideas, but I always felt a bit dissatisfied because she would ignore my ideas or passively refuse to implement them until they died. After a break of a year or two, we started writing again, only I was more assertive this time about wanting my ideas to have equal time. This led to monthly breakdowns about how I was ignoring her plots (I wasn’t) in order to force my own on her. Eventually, after only working together again for 8 months, we broke off the project altogether after a final massive meltdown. We are still friends, but she really hasn’t changed (she recently tore down a show I told her I really liked because she didn’t like it), and I won’t write with her anymore, even though I miss it and she occasionally suggests we start up again.

  49. lliira1 said:

    Whenever anyone gets extremely enthusiastic about something and all “you must try this you’ll love it you must you must you must!”, I am immediately turned off. The closer I am to that person, the less likely I am to give it a chance, or to be able to tolerate it if I am somehow forced to do so. If it’s just, “I think this is cool and maybe you’ll like it,” mentioned once, I’ll be open-minded. But anything that feels in any way adjacent to pressure, and I will not only dig in my heels and refuse to try the thing, I will start feeling incredibly disrespected.

    I have my reasons for this (a father who tried to make me his mini-Me), and it’s not ever going to go away. And whenever people start pressuring others to like the same things they like, even when I’m only an observer, it is incredibly distressing to me. This isn’t something that gets talked about, but it’s really not benign behavior.

  50. redzheadz said:

    Something I’ve found, and as others have said, is that sometimes these things sort of develop on their own. BF started watching Grimm and Vikings a while ago, and though at first I wasn’t too impressed with either, proximity just led to my interest peaking, especially since both shows became more interesting in their second season (at least that’s what I felt). So LW I’d say let it go, maybe make time for a rewatch for your own sake, and let your boyfriend come around to your shows in his own time. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t, at least he won’t feel pressured too if he does. :)

  51. suryas said:

    Tow introduced me to Big Bang Theory. I introduced him to Castle, Suits and GoT, but stopped watching GoT and Suits. He still goes for GoT and I’m slowly finding my way back in.

    I like Silicon Valley, and suggested it to him because he could definitely related to it. He said no. Meh. It happens.

  52. atma said:

    What the Captain said – wonderful post, really. The geek fallacies, the conclusion, all of it.

    I jsut wanted to add – if you feel sad, you have a right to feel sad. This does not automatically give you permission to cross others lines. Feelings don’t need permission, actions that involve others do.

    The comments comparing books made me think of this: TV is more of a social media, you watch shows together. Books are more for private enjoyment (at least to me). So if your disparaging media tastes, possibly based on a gendered approach, makes the activity of hanging out watching shows UNFUN, maybe find something else you do together? This does not address the problem directly, but if your fun time together becomes a competition about whose media choices are valid, maybe that’s a way around it?

  53. Ziv W said:

    I really feel for LW, because I’m in a very similar situation. “Watching TV” is a default activity for couples, but somehow we find that I’m much more willing to tolerate my SO’s favorite shows than she’s willing to tolerate mine.

    On a case-by-case basis, I’m more than willing to suck it up. For my wife, TV is a comfort activity, and I never want to pressure her or deliberately put her through something she’s not going to enjoy. (My picks tend to be darker, plottier, SF-ier, or any combination of the above. I totally get why she isn’t enthused about them, and why that’s not what she wants when she wants to relax.)

    But the result is that, over time, we’re always watching what she likes to watch. I feel like I’m almost always watching meh, good-enough, no-I-don’t-mind TV. Give it enough time, and that begins to grate.

    …but even when it does grate, it wouldn’t be magically solved by also forcing her to suffer part of the time. So it goes.

  54. Thomas said:

    As a person who has ceased watching television shows because of how time-consuming it is (with Sherlock as an exception, due to its subject, quality & gracefully having seasons of only three episodes) I want to add that one needn’t watch a show in its entirety from the beginning in order to like it. I’m totally okay with falling in the middle of something, watching one or two episodes to sample the general feel of a show & then move on enriched by the experience or else convinced why I don’t need to see more of it.

    So, what *could* happen is that LW decides to rewatch The Wire all on hir own, boyfriend happens to be around & decides to watch with hir for a few minutes. Maybe he’ll like it after all, maybe he won’t. What I’m saying is one doesn’t need to plan this. Boyfriend doesn’t need to be there from the start of LW’s series binge in order to develop a taste for it. After all, LW will be around to explain things if necessary.

  55. EverSoThankful said:

    “Pressure is the enemy of enjoyment.”

    This, this so much! My younger sister and I went to see Frozen together, and both absolutely adored it. When the whole family were together and it was out on DVD, my sister (jokingly) kept bringing the conversation back to Frozen and how we should all watch it. As much as I found it funny, I was determined to make her chill out about it – older sister has very different tastes and over hyping it was definitely not going to help things. In the end, when we finally did sit down to watch it, older sister was burnt out and decided to read by herself rather than watch the film. Little sister was most disappointed, but I was sort of relieved – I didn’t want her watching it with the mentality of searching for what it was that her sisters had enjoyed so much, which kind of puts pressure on us too?

    I’m wondering if this is another geek fallacy actually – “love me, love my favourite media”? I sure as hell know I’ve been guilty of it. I love the captain’s advice about asking the other person if they’d like to talk some more about a certain film if a conflict of opinion has been recognised. Sometimes debating can be fun, as long as the attack isn’t on the person for liking/hating something, but purely on the merits of the thing itself.

  56. Kanny said:

    CAPTAIN THIS IS ME ASKING YOU ABOUT THE MOVIE ADAPTATION OF RENT, TELL ME ALL YOUR THOUGHTS! [sits with chin in hands]

    – I completely understand your BF’s point about wanting to be in the right mood/mental space for a show! I’ve had to stop watching shows for months at a time because I was in a bad space for it and would get depressed/anxious very easily. (Top of the Lake is a horrible, horrible series for depressed/anxious people btw! I finished it but it was a struggle.)

    – It sounds like you’re angry about the perceived imbalance in this recommender-ship rather than “he won’t watch my show.” I think asking, “Hey, so I noticed you watched Show X at someone else’s recommendation but not mine, is there a reason for that or is it just a coincidence?” And then actually believe he’s telling the truth, whatever he says. Also: You are allowed to say “Eh, not interested,” too! You don’t have to love his faves or he yours, although I understand sometimes it’s like “But they are rejecting A PART OF ME!!!!!” They are not you, though, and they don’t have your connection to your favorite things. They really, genuinely don’t see what you see in your favorite thing and that’s okay. Some of my favorite, most meaningful video games were made in the mid-to-late 90s and are hard to find/awkward to play/butt-ugly, so I can’t convince anyone to play them! My friends know I Love The Thing And It Means So Much, but all they see is a game they would never seek out on their own and don’t want to explore. And in turn my friends have favorite media that I’m apathetic about or even actively (but quietly, to myself!) hate. We make it work by acknowledging the thing is “Important To You And I Respect That,” and that still makes us feel validated and loved.

    – There are things I would probably honestly love had I encountered them WITHOUT a wave of pressure from friends and exes about “You HAVE to AT LEAST try it you’ll LOVE IT” often with a side of “ew why are you watching/playing/reading THAT when you should be doing THIS?” etc. Bioware RPGs make my teeth grind at their very mention because of an ex who wouldn’t take a hint and then got very put out and mopey when I finally said “Hey, enough.” Do you want The Wire to set your boyfriend’s teeth a-grinding?

    – My friend and I have a saying when we recommend the other something and the other hears the recommendation, is receptive, but doesn’t immediately act on it: “The stars haven’t aligned for me to watch/play/read that yet.” We may not be in the mood, we may be busy with something else, we may be waiting for Divine Inspiration, but we really did take the rec to heart and intend to act on it, just…when it’s a good time for us. It’s shorthand for “Hey, I’m really glad you’re sharing something meaningful with me, and I fully intend to try it and I trust your judgment, it’s just a bad time right now.” SOMEDAY I’m going to finish Farscape and start Deep Space Nine and all those Marvel comics, but today is not that day. Next week probably isn’t either. The stars, man, the stars.

    – As an aside, I think the best gift you can give someone who doesn’t share your obsession is just asking “Well, what do you like about it?” and listening to them discuss it for awhile. That doesn’t mean listen to 8000 context-less jokes and a synopsis of the entire series you don’t care about to begin with, and feel free to point out when you’re stranded in a conversation (ONCE AGAIN: BIOWARE RPGS. I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR WARDEN/SHEP/WHATEVER AND I DID NOT WATCH YOUR PLAYTHROUGH), but some of my favorite conversations have actually sprung from “Well I don’t like it, but what do YOU like about it?” It got me into the critic headspace of several of my friends and honestly watching people enjoy themselves is always pleasant! That pressure-free discussion actually did get me into a few things I initially turned my nose up at, like Breaking Bad.

    • Since I have limited people I can interact with about my current-obsession-of-the-time, I have a deal going where I get to say “Hey, I know you don’t care about this, but…” And then I get to talk for a BRIEF time about said obsession as a sort of system purge. My father does something similar, only it’s with everything he ever watches (not just the select few amazing-balls shows), and he wants to give a full and detailed summary. He also has no awareness of when your eyes are glazing over and you’re mentally screaming ENOUGH. So you do have to be careful with this, but it works really well when you are.

      (The latest case for me being the horror movie Blood Glacier, which is so amazingly god-awful that it becomes this soaring noble bird of suck. I damn near vomited from laughter during this movie. Actual line of dialogue: Stop eating a banana while you’re CRYING!

  57. Kaz said:

    Oh god I have a million different feelings about this letter, and they mainly consist of overempathising with the boyfriend hardcore. :(

    Um. Horror story for how badly this can go below…

    During undergrad, I had a flatmate who wanted me to watch things with her! Because omg this show is awesome you must see it! The one that sticks out in my memory like a giant monument of trauma is The Simple Life. It is a show that is based around Paris Hilton and someone else ridiculously overprivileged doing minimum-wage jobs and trying to live on the earnings and, basically, laughing at their abject failure and how out of touch they are with the average person’s life.

    I have an embarrassment squick the size of Jupiter, and I cannot even describe how dreadful that whole premise is for me. I like to think that my current clued-up, Captain Awkward-reading, words-using self would have told her “I am sorry, but I’d rather have an emergency root canal than sit through this, isn’t the world amazing with how diverse people’s tastes are! Hope you enjoy!” Sadly, the person I was back then was craaaaap at setting boundaries and let themself get nagged into watching it with her. As you might expect, it was awful. I’d take overlong bathroom breaks to get away from the screen – she’d put the show on pause until I got back. I’d end up holding my hands over my ears to drown out the scenes I couldn’t deal with. My flatmate would yank them away because KAAAZ pay attention to what’s going on!!

    I’m autistic and have always had minor oversensitivity issues with video. A year or two later, they suddenly ballooned, and ever since I’ve been mostly unable to watch any video-based media on my own due to getting so overstimulated I pause the video and shake/pace/do something to bleed off tension approximately every five seconds. I can watch some things with people, but only if they’re okay with me leaving the room to pace, curling up in a fetal position while emitting high-pitched whimpers of distress, and/or squeezing my eyes shut and sticking my fingers in my ears when I need to. I have a suspicion this development wasn’t unrelated.

    This is obviously a bit of an extreme case, but. Yeah. Different people like different things, in different ways, at different points in time. Recs are awesome! Nagging someone to follow your rec… let’s not.

    • Myrin said:

      Wow, I find it amazing that someone would unironically think of The Simple Life as an “awesome show”. Like, it’s reality TV. Obviously that can be entertaining if you like to laugh at people being embarrassing but it’s not really something that has a plot or awesome cinematography or something. Amazing how diverse people’s tastes are, indeed.
      (And sorry you had to sit through this. I believe it aired on MTV or Viva [you are/were in Germany too, right, Kaz?] in the afternoon when I watched something else at the same time and during commercials I’d zap there and get horribly angry about it.)

    • Jenna said:

      It isn’t only autistic folk that might have problems. Except for having to watch myself for depressive tendencies, I think I am mostly neurotypical, but, I GET the embarrassment squick. I do NOT watch most sitcoms. I can see the disaster looming, “no! Don’t lie about that! Don’t you see how horrible the result will be in only 3minutes?!?! Aaaaaaargh! ”
      Seinfeld drove me from the room within 5 minutes when late husband watched it. Someone tried and failed to hook me on Arrested Development. There is another show that I have blocked even the name from my memory, and I don’t think it’s worth me rummaging for it. I cannot abide most reality shows.
      I have gotten up for long bathroom breaks to try to miss some on screen interpersonal train wreck that I could *see* coming, and someone paused the show. Then, I have no choice but to use my words and tell them that I am leaving BECAUSE of the show, and won’t be back till a certain scene is over, and maybe not even then, depending. People have been disappointed and tried to convince me to stay. However, no one has EVER had the horrible HORRIBLE reaction to try to restrict my movements or remove my hands from my ears. WTF !!!

      • Polychrome said:

        ah ha ha ha — I couldn’t watch the Flintstones as a kid cause like EVERY EPISODE was something like “Fred and Barney only pretended to do X, really they are at the Buffalo Lodge meeting and Betty and Wilma are going to catch them!”

        agghhhhhhhh unbearable. so anxious-making. I loved Arrested Development tho.

      • Kaz said:

        Oh yeah, didn’t mean to imply it was – I’ve definitely met NT people with embarrassment squicks before, it transcends neurotype. And yesss it’s being able to see the disaster looming ahead like an iceberg but you are a helpless observer and nothing you can do will budge the trajectory of the plot. *shudders* In a way it’s almost worse than the actual embarrassment itself. Those shows sound… awful, yeah. D:

        The autism is more about the specific oversensitivity I get with video nowadays – this covers embarrassment but also suspense and pretty much any and all unexpected happenings, up to and including sudden scene changes on bad days. It seems related to various autistic hypersensitivity stuff and I haven’t met an NT person with these issues yet, so I blame it on autism. *shrugs* (Also, on a practical level, it means I genuinely can’t watch video on my own a lot of the time and hence have access needs like transcripts or video summaries, so it’s easier for me to treat this as an issue caused by a known disability than just ???)

        And yeah, the thing about tugging my hands away from my ears is one of those things where I look back and go “did that actually happen? seriously? yep, that actually happened. the mind boggles.” How she didn’t realise that that sort of thing is not okay, I don’t know…

    • Jessica said:

      “Embarrassment squick” — thank you. I’ve wondered for years how to describe this feeling!

  58. Codeless said:

    I would like nth the comment about having to be in the mood for something to watch it. I also get badly turned off by having things pushed on me, which is why I will most likely never be able to watch Eelementary or OITNB. I got both “recommended” to me with an icky undertone of “These are morally good and pure things to watch, not like your nasty Doctor Who and Sherlock, and you should watch them and like them or you are a Bad Person”
    (For the record, I am aware both DW and Sherlock have issues, but both shows hold meaning to me outside of their content, because they connected me to people in my life.)
    I personally like Sucker Punch, but I would never judge anyone for not liking it because I can see that it has issues and also…it´s objectively bloody disturbing.

  59. Suzy said:

    I want to watch Breaking Bad! I watched the first four or so episodes and Just. Couldn’t. Take. Any. More. Now, maybe this was because at the time I had a string of weekends where I had to get up horribly early to travel across the country for work so I was exhausted and was like “No. Going to sleep. Good night.” I wasn’t in a good headspace.

    Maybe in the next few months I will go back to it, I know it’s good, my Facebook feed was constantly flooded with memes but I will get to it in my own time. After Orphan Black. And Orange is the New Black. And True Detective. And American Horror Story. And Almost Human. It will go on the list, but further down the list, because I don’t want to be watching too many things at the same time.

    • MellifluousDissent said:

      Just wanted to say that I found Breaking Bad really hard to get into. I probably would’ve bailed after the first episode, but H was really into it, so I stuck with it since I was sitting in the room anyway. It took about half a season before I was fully hooked. So if you’d like to revisit (obviously I will not tell you that you MUST! :-P), I’d say there’s a decent probability the viewing experience will improve as it progresses.

      On an almost entirely unrelated side note, I had to try Mad Men something like 3 or 4 times before I was able to stick with it long enough to give a darn about any of the characters or anything that happened. I like it now, but I’m pretty sure that I would’ve quit after attempt #1 if I’d had someone standing over my shoulder whining about how I MUST watch because it is GREAT and I WILL LIKE IT, NO REALLY. The fact that I tried it, was like “meh,” and lovely partner backed off and was like “okay, cool, well I’m continuing to watch and enjoy it over here, so if you ever get around to it I’m here to chat” played a huge part in me being willing to try it again at a later date.

      • Chocomoholic said:

        I mentioned this in another comment already but yeah, i took me a whole season to get into Breaking Bad. I only got more interested into Season 2.

        As for Mad Men… I can definitely see why you had a few false starts. At first it seems like a show in which nothing much happens. I was curious enough to keep going though… loooove that show now.

        I’ve got Orphan Black and True Detective waiting in line to be watched (my husband can’t wait to start True Detective but I want to finish getting through House of Cards first). Also haven’t touched Season 3 of American Horror Story yet. There’s only so many shows you can juggle all at once, hehe.

    • Nicole said:

      I would agree that it took a bit for me to get into Breaking Bad, but once I did I was gung-ho. I felt very “meh” about Dexter upon watching the pilot, and pilot episodes are a STRONG litmus test for me. If you can’t pique my interest / leave me wanting more, while not being overly complicated/secretive a-la “you have to come back for more for any of this to make sense!!!” then I’m in. I think I came back to S1E1 of Dexter a full year after I first tried it, and then I was aaaall in. Consequently, though, it has fallen out of favor. I can’t manage to sit still and actually watch a full 45 minute episode in this season 7 without my mind wandering. It’s okay for it to A) Never be your bag, baby or B) Be your bag for a while, then not so much.

  60. minuteye said:

    I used to use “What’s your favourite Star Wars movie?” as an ice breaker. Most people have seen it, and if they haven’t there’s generally a reason (“You grew up in Luxembourg? What was that like?”). Whatever answer they give, you can ask what about what they liked or didn’t like and usually get the conversational ball rolling.

    But… I met so many people who didn’t like the movies at all, or liked one of the “unpopular” ones (i.e. made huge amounts of money, but critically abhorred). Even though I don’t have strong feelings about the franchise, these people always got really worried that I was going to yell at them or be mean to them about it. So I don’t use it as an ice breaker anymore, but it makes me sad to think of how much shit people get over having the ‘wrong’ opinion about a piece of entertainment.

  61. Gallantqueer said:

    Captain, how do you feel about the movie adaptation of Rent? I’m super curious as to the content of your hate rant. Seriously.

    • JenniferP said:

      They should have cast 19 year olds and made it a young people’s story, because mostly what I thought when I watched the movie was “you are all terrible at art and should get a day job so you can pay rent.” The filmmaker’s work, especially, is the quality of dog doo. The camera he uses doesn’t record sound, so when he filmed all the beautiful words of the dying AIDS patients, those will just come out as people mouthing words. It just wore completely wrong on 30 year old actors.

      • Oh, man…that was my exact thought watching it too. Which was funny to be because I loved the musical and I’ve seen it a good dozen times. I thought it was a symptom of being an adult and doing adult things (like paying rent.) Now I wonder if it was because the characters were adults, so my inner kid could no longer empathize.

        Though either way, I have as an adult come to greatly dislike Angel for the entire dog-killing thing (though later ordering vegan food! save the environment, kill pets personally?)

        • Cactus said:

          Yeah! And it’s totally treated like a joke, because it’s awful Benny’s dog, but it’s not the DOG’S fault that her humans aren’t good at training animals and just leave her alone to bark all day long!

  62. Commander Banana said:

    STEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

    In my next life I will be a patrician, impeccably dressed blonde ice-queen detective.

  63. Sascha said:

    This is how I feel about Dr. Who…as in, I just can’t get into it. Just not my jam. I’ve tried. And I enjoy many other campy British TV shows and those types of stories, which is why I’ve had so many friends recommend it to me. Maybe one day I will, but for now I JUST.CAN’T.WATCH.IT. It makes me kind of sad when people quote Dr. Who to me, which I recognize because there are so many Whovians in my life, and we can’t connect over that, but no amount of “But it’s soooo goood and you’ll looooove iiiit” will make me watch it right now. Especially not when I have so many new animes to catch up on! :)

    This post is a good reminder of how to be a better…enjoyer of media? I often need these reminders. In my younger years I would really get a high off of ridiculing other people’s tastes (so hypocritical, I mean c’mon, I was into Spice Girls) and my identity was wrapped up in being CULTURED and KNOWLEDGABLE. I was the SMART ONE of my group. Thank god I’m getting over that. It was such a hateful place – hateful to others, hateful to myself. I always felt like I had to prove something.

  64. sorcharei said:

    My partner and I have quite different tastes in certain media. We still recommend stuff to one another, but after 25 years, we each know what small subset of our own passions is likely to appeal to the other. We also are very careful about how we watch together, We watch a few episodes and have all — if any — conversation about what we’re seeing be started by the newbie, not the recommender. And then, after a few episodes, the recommender will say to the newbie, “so, is this working for you? Should we keep watching it?” And “yeh, not my thing, but I see what you like about it” is always an okay answer.

    If I were getting “but I LURVE The Wire and I want you to watch it so we can share things that I LURVE” I would be extremely wary about doing it. What happens if I watch it and hate it? Am indifferent? Can see that I would,otherwise love it, but with all this pressure from my job this year, it’s too dark? Is there room for me to have any other reaction besides “OMG, you were right, this is the BESTEST EVAH!”?

    So for LW, first drop the immediate pressure about The Wire. It’s turned into too big a deal at the moment. You can come back to it later. Now, take a deep breath and look at two things.

    First, look at the larger relationship and see if “won’t do what I suggest until some outsider suggests it” is a larger pattern. If so, address that pattern. For all the reasons people have said above, this is a giant red flag if it’s true, and one you need to deal with in order to feel respected and seen in the relationship.

    Second, look at what kind of space you make for your BF to try out things and come to his own conclusion about them. Are you waiting anxiously for the pilot to finish running so you can interrogate him about his reaction? Will you be super disappointed and sad if he doesn’t like what you love? Or can you accept the gift that he tried something because you loved it, regardless of whether he also loved it? And if your are super disappointed and sad, can you manage that reaction for yourself without blaming him for not having loved it like you do?

    It’s great to want to share things you love, but in my experience, this works best if you don’t ever let it become a referendum on how much you love one another. Over time, sometimes tastes will coincide more and sometimes less. It’s important to know about yourself what balance of like same/different things is comfortable for you in a relationship. For me, it’s been 25 pretty darned good years. I’d say we share tastes about 65% in TV, about 30% in movies, and about 10% in books. But I know people who prefer to have their time together spent consuming media together, so those percentages would mean “we are too different to be happy together”. Figure out what you need in this area, what you want, what you can live with, don’t settle for less than you need, but don’t try to figure it out based on what works for other people. How much of what you love needs to be mutual for you to feel you have “enough” in common. There is no right answer. But it’s a useful thing to know about yourself, just like “how much clutter can I tolerate? and “how spontaneous do I like to be versus having concrete plans for everything?”

    If 25 years have taught me anything, it’s that issues I think I have with my partner are often masking issues I’m having with myself. I can easily see “but I think it’s important that we share media tastes” as standing in for “if we don’t share media tastes then I am scared that might mean we are too different for me to ever feel validated in this relationship”. But your mileage may vary. So try to figure out what your underlying issue is, and then deal with that straight up.

    • LW said:

      Thanks so much, this was very useful.

  65. I’ll admit to making some overly enthusiastic recommendations about beloved TV shows and movies over the years. But I so love the list of things for us to stop doing to one another! My ex-husband/darth did a lot of it, especially about music. Just about everything I listened to was stupid, and he couldn’t imagine why I wasn’t in love with every band he adored. I came out of a super religious background in which I wasn’t allowed to listen to much “secular” music, then I married my ex-darth young, and I never really developed my own taste in music. The years since the divorce have been amazing as I explore for myself what works for me and what doesn’t.

    It’s all too easy for “How could you not LOVE {media choice}?” to turn into “You owe it to me to love what I love!” or even “This isn’t a safe place for you emotionally if you don’t love what I love.”

    • letternext said:

      It’s interesting that iwe say we “consume” media, because the only other thing we really use that phrase for is food. But the food we consume should be our own choice, so I guess it should be the same with media? One thing I also try to keep in mind is you can never unwatch something. Anyway, I adore Steve Earle so a couple of people kept encouraging me to watch The Wire. I loved it, but I’ll admit that certain episodes stayed with me for weeks afterwards. When I watched it I was living with someone who was struggling with substance use, we had also both lost people we were close to because of that issue. We both had to pace ourselves, watch some episodes alone or together but not with our other housemates, because for him a lot more, but also for me, it wasn’t really entertaining, but something that brought up memories & strong emotions.

      Different people engage with the same media in different ways, at different times, or not at all. it’s not right or wrong. But for me The Wire was something I wanted to watch either alone or with people who were also engaging with it in a similar way. It wasn’t something I wanted to watch & then talk about in the same way as I could other TV shows. But it wouldn’t have been too easy to explain that, for eg, why what happened to Bubbles & Johnny made me really, really angry as well as sad, without having to explain a lot of personal stuff. So it was a good thing that the people we lived with put no expectations or pressure on us to watch together or discuss it.

      So, yeah, choice of media consumption, what to watch, when to watch, how to discuss it can be pretty complex & personal, but making those decisions can be entirely about you & what’s right for you, not about or reflecting on other people, even the people who recommended it. This is why I also love the list of things for us to stop doing to each other. I also think those decisions don’t have to be based on something that you actually experienced or even something you feel strongly about or can articulate. Something I really, really appreciate about this blog is the “at you” phrase. It may not be easy to figure out when someone is not consuming [or, choosing to not consume] media AT you, but it’s really helped me to think of others’ choices that way.

    • Phoebastria said:

      A darth of my past once said something that still sticks with me as one of my worst “sharing a thing I like” reactions. Myself and a friend who had flown cross country to visit were discussing music and a kind that friend and I loved a lot, while in a car with darth. Darth put in her opinion-as-fact that said music type was “like a shit sculpture–put together with skill but still made of crap.” There was an awkward silence that followed and I later tried to apologize for darth by saying she’s just blunt about her opinions. But it made me realize that darth did this frequently, whenever people were discussing a liked thing, she came up with a rather upsetting way to say that said thing was more than just not her thing, but objectively bad in itself. Darth’s own tastes, naturally, were Cornerstones of Great Geekness and that’s why we should go with her movie choice instead of anyone else’s. Some months later I started the process of removing my life from congruence with darth’s, and now years later it still stands out to me as an incredible upsetting way to express the common sentiment “that’s just not my jam.”

      • Wow.

        That immediately made me think of George Carlin’s line, “Have you ever noticed that other people’s stuff is shit, but your shit is stuff?”

  66. Kathyyo said:

    As someone who’s been on both sides of this, I feel for you, LW. That said, I personally take the stance now of only suggesting things to people and then not bringing it up until they do, just because you never know what issues you touch on when you suggest things to people, and i’d rather my friends feel comfortable saying “thanks but no thanks” than them watching something they don’t like just for my sake.

    Not to say it’s bad to suggest shows, books, etc. of course you wanna share things you like with people you care about. But I know I personally don’t like it when someone constantly suggests something to be after I’ve said no thanks (or the more “polite” version: “yeah, I’ll watch that someday”). I know I’ve had times when I don’t watch something due to it being problematic for me (whether it’s in regards to racism/sexism/ etc. or more personal history), but I won’t necessarily say so to the person when I say “I’m not interested” if they suggest it. The Wire would be one example for me, and I wouldn’t want to be asked a lot about watching it; that would make me uncomfortable. If I did go through the process of laying out why I haven’t watched the Wire and a friend still kept suggesting it to me, I’d be kinda upset. It personally stresses me out when that happens, like my friend wants me to like the same things as a condition of staying friends with them.

    I totally understand wanting to share things and make recs (especially when you’re in a relationship and spend a good amount of time together) but I think it’s also important to respect any “no thanks” I get from ppl for any suggestions and take it at face value without trying to convince them. And if they end up liking it later, all the better. But if the person only likes/tries out your recs when they hear about it from another person, that’s a whole other issue (and also really annoying).

  67. monologue said:

    I am one of those people that won’t watch or read something until I feel like it. So if people lend me stuff or encourage me to dl stuff, it might sit around for a looong time and get returned unread/watched. It’s just my personality. I have to be in the mood for something. I’m even like this with my own current media obsessions of my choosing. I’ll have a phase with one thing, and I won’t be able to tell you how long that phase will last since it almost feels like I don’t really consciously choose which media to be obsessed with. Because of this I usually don’t bother trying to make other people sit through things I like unless they have already indicated that they’re into that thing. I like that feeling of having someone to share your favourite thing with, but I usually go to the internet for that when I don’t know any real life people that are into it.

    I also have a secondary issue of being pretty much unable to take onscreen violence, so I need to carefully gauge how violent something is before watching. People who can’t understand and respect this about me don’t get to watch anything with me anymore. I get really traumatized, so it’s really non-negotiable. Though at the same time I don’t use this to control things, I just excuse myself if others are watching something I can’t watch.

    So I can totally understand how the LW’s bf might say no to something one time but then end up getting into it later on. That said though, other commenters have already done a good job of addressing that it might be good to evaluate whether it’s really just a tastes/timing thing or whether the LW is being disrespected, which would not be ok.

  68. Esti said:

    LW, I have a slightly different reaction than a lot of the commenters. I fully understand and sympathize with your frustration that you have watched something like 14 seasons of shows that your boyfriend recommended, but he keeps refusing to watch things you recommend. That doesn’t mean that he’s obligated to watch a particular show, especially if he is having specific mental health concerns about it. But it doesn’t sound like this is just about The Wire, because it keeps happening with other shows you recommend as well.

    I think it IS reasonable for you to say at some point: hey, I want the next thing we watch to be one of my picks. He can veto specific shows he’s really truly not wanting to watch, but if jointly watching and talking about TV is an activity you both enjoy and you have repeatedly agreed to watch his shows, then he should also make the effort to watch one of your shows. Surely there is some show you like and want to watch with him that he won’t find actively unpleasant, even if it isn’t his favoritest thing ever. In fact, you know that’s true, because twice he’s independently come to shows you recommended and ended up liking them.

    So no, you shouldn’t pressure him to watch one particular show even if he’s said he really doesn’t want to. But I also don’t think it would be fair if that results in you just watching the things he recommends and him never reciprocating. Maybe when you finish Whedonverse, propose 2 or 3 different shows that you’d like to watch with him and ask him to pick one of those — then you’re not putting pressure on him to watch one particular thing, and he can avoid anything he’s really really not interested in.

  69. MrsMorley said:

    Dear LW,

    My basic thought on this one is maybe your boy friend doesn’t like to be instructed by his lover, and maybe that’s how your recommendations come across to him.

    That doesn’t make make him right by the way. It could also feel unfair to you, especially if he gets to be the expert and you never do.

    I’m bringing this up because it mirrors how I sometimes feel (and probably how I sometimes act). That is, I hate it if my partner knows everything about something and is going to “teach” me. At the same time, I don’t hate knowing everything and being the expert myself.

    Even if this is not what’s going on here I have two thoughts.

    1) Moderate his being the expert. You don’t have to watch his shows
    2) Don’t try to get him to watch your stuff, but consider exploring with him why he’s so unlikely to take your recommendations.

    Good luck

  70. A. Y. Mouse said:

    I had a friend who did this a few years ago — she hated the things she hated with burning, fiery passion, and things she thought she would hate with that same burning, fiery passion. Whenever I would suggest she try a thing I thought she’d like, I got subjected to a laundry list of reasons why my thing sucked. She also repeatedly insisted that I would like things that I wasn’t interested in if I would just tryyyyyy iiiiiiiiitttt.

    And then, when she got a boyfriend, and he suggested the things that I had previously suggested and had rejected?

    Suddenly they were the best things ever.

    I stopped talking to her wholesale in ~2010, and moved to a city she professed to hate most of all possible cities in part to minimize the chance of ever running into her “in the wild” ever.

  71. LD said:

    Oh man. TV watching can be so complicated. My husband and I have a lot of overlap in TV shows we like, but it’s really hard to nail down what we’ll both enjoy sometimes. Also, we watch things differently–I pretty much always pay attention/can’t tune out what’s on the TV, and he’s perfectly happy with it as background noise most of the time; whereas I would rather have it off than tuned to something I don’t feel like watching. The paying-attention-thing means I also have a low tolerance for shows I dislike, so I’m more prone to reject shows I don’t think I’ll like. I love to marathon multiple seasons of shows, and he likes to watch the same 5 or 6 episodes over and over (which drives me batty). There are a lot of his shows that I used to like okay, but I’ve seen the same episodes so many times that they’ve almost hit the TV show version of the bitch-eating-crackers stage. He also follows a few YouTube shows, and likes to watch them on the TV, which is just weird to me. I actively like/enjoy a lot more TV shows than he does, but he’s better at tolerating shows he isn’t fully invested in, if that makes sense. It’s like, he’s got a spectrum of TV he enjoys, whereas I have more of a dichotomy of Love vs Hate.

    The best approach for us to do TV watching together has been to find new shows we both like, and we watch those actively together; our rule is we give any new show at least 4 episodes to become a joint show unless we both hate it after 2. The shows I like, I watch when he’s doing other stuff and just wants background TV (the few shows I like that he really dislikes, I try to watch when he’s in another room or napping). The shows he likes that I don’t, he watches when I’m cooking or taking a bath or whatever. Overall, I end up controlling the TV during a lot of the time we’re watching TV in the same room, but that’s what works for us. . And we’ve both ended up liking shows we never thought we’d like that the other person watches (for him, Project Runway, for me, Breaking Bad), mainly because we never pushed each other to watch “our” stuff. But that’s never kept us from talking about it. He’s never read an Animorphs book, but he knows aaaaall about them because he doesn’t care if I talk to him about them. I knew literally nothing about electronics, but now I know all about capacitors and transistors and bread boards and so many other related things, because it’s fun to hear him get excited about stuff he loves doing.

    Deals put a LOT of pressure into the mix, and honestly, if you need a deal to get someone to watch your show with you…you’re unlikely to get the result you want. The thing is, I’m never going to like his shows (or his hobbies) as much as he likes them, nor will he like the shows (or my hobbies) I like as much as I like them. Even when we do end up watching each other’s shows, we get different things out of them. If he had pushed me to watch Breaking Bad, I never would’ve gotten past the second episode, because violence/gore really, really bothers me. But because I heard all the hype leading up to the last season which talked about character arcs and the kind of stuff I enjoy in TV instead of just “drugs and violence”, I finally felt open to watching it–I watched it with him b/c he could warn me about stuff that might squick me out.

    Of course, as others have mentioned, if he never wants to have anything to do with stuff you suggest, there might be a bigger, ickier issue going on. He should never HAVE to do/enjoy your favorite stuff just because you like it, but at the same time, if he’s your partner, he should generally TRY to do/enjoy some of your favorite stuff, from time to time, b/c it’s important to you and you’re important to him. It’s probably not going to be a 50/50 split. It also might be that TV isn’t a good realm for this kind of reciprocation of favorite stuff, and something else would work better. Everyone’s different.

    • Jenna said:

      Differing amounts of attention paid to the tv…
      I have trouble ignoring a show on tv. I can kind of ignore sports on a tv over a bar, but, I try to find places with no tv over the bar or anywhere if I can. If people are trying to TALK to me, I try to put the distracting tv behind me, so I can pay attention to the person. If conversation is the reason to be together, and the tv can be turned off, I ask for that. Or, i see if i can move to a room with no tv. Some people really don’t understand.
      My late husband really wanted a tv in the bedroom, and he said that I had agreed(I didn’t/still don’t recall this deal as a deal) that if I got a set of bedroom furniture that I liked(we looked everywhere, and I *thought* we had both liked this set?) he could have a tv in the bedroom. I recall arguing against it, but, eventually there was a tv in the bedroom. So. Maybe he wasn’t listening to my reasons? It wasn’t just “there will be no tv in any bedroom of mine” but, rather, “it’s distracting to me, and you already know how I react badly to many sitcoms and other shows and leave the room.”
      The pattern that developed was that he’d head to the bedroom to watch tv, and I’d do computer stuff(games, Internet, writing…) until I didn’t hear the tv. It wasn’t a good pattern. We did talk about it. Nothing really changed. I wasn’t punishing him for having a tv in the bedroom, but, I wasn’t just going to subject myself to things I didn’t want to watch either.

      • Erin said:

        Dunno, as a shared room that at one point of the day, you have to use, I think his behavior wasn’t cool. There should at least have been a deal like “I will notify you 15 min (or whatever) before I go to bed and then the TV has to be shut off.” That situation would make me feel kinda trapped, to be honest.

      • Anisoptera said:

        You know, I think having a place to sleep is more important than his desire to watch TV in bed. I agree with Erin – you should have been able to at least tell him when you wanted your bed time to be and at that time he must turn the TV off. If he wanted to stay up watching it that’s what the living room is for.

        But then the way you describe that “negotiation” going down gives me the heebie jeebies full stop. Way to ignore your needs and preferences with a bunch of weird “but you got this thing that I never even indicated was a problem for me until now” manipulations. Ugh.

        Sleep > desire to watch TV in bed

  72. IrisInBloom said:

    I have a friend I distranced myself from largely because she kept pressuring me to watch Buffy. I watched a few episodes. Never cared for it. When I told her that, her response was “Well, you just haven’t watched the right episodes!” No, I just didn’t care for it. It seemed to bother her to an extent that it made hanging out with her extremely difficult. That was several years ago, and to this day, I can’t understand why it was such a big deal to her. I always wondered if she worried that if her friends didn’t like the same shows she did, that something was wrong with her. It’s very hard to say.

  73. Nicole said:

    I would echo sentiments about letting him come to stuff on his own, but also concerns relative to does he do this to you all. the. time? My ex was REALLY REALLY into Lost and Heroes and could never.shut.up about how great they were, how much I should like them, etc etc. Even though we lived together, these both became shows it was mandatory for him to DVR and watch when I was at work/at the gym/wherever. Likewise, he stopped enjoying The Biggest Loser and Teen Mom, so I watched those guilty pleasures without him. I didn’t see anything wrong with this set-up (still don’t) although my current BF and I mostly watch things together that we both enjoy (but mostly due to limited together times right now). If you’re hitting a wall with TV, maybe try alternating movie recommendations? It’s less investment for the other person. Definitely work your way toward watching new/new to you guys things together.

  74. Avocado said:

    Proposed Media Corollary to “Don’t Ask Why Your Partner Dumped You, You Really Don’t Want To Know”– If you absolutely love and are deeply invested in a TV show, to the point that it hurts to hear a harsh word spoken of it, don’t keep pressuring your partner/friends to explain why they don’t like it.

    I’ve had several friends who adore Sherlock, and refused to take, “eh, I watched the first season, didn’t care for it,” as an answer, and kept pushing to know BUT WHY, HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE IT. When I finally broke down and explained exactly why I hated every smug, self-satisfied, racist, sexist episode of that show, they looked like I had stomped on their puppy. FWIW, I felt like crap for that, and resolved to be more diplomatic going forward, at least for the friends for whom the show meant a lot.

    But the point is, don’t keep pushing your friends/partner to explain WHY DON’T YOU LIKE THIS THING I LOVE if an honest answer will probably just hurt your feelings.

    • gmg said:

      I actually think that reasonable love for a piece of media should include the ability to hear criticism of it. I love “Sherlock.” But it DOES suffer from the issues you mention, so I watch it with that awareness.

      • aebhel said:

        I don’t know that I agree, necessarily. I’m aware of the issues with the shows I watch (I’m a Supernatural fan. Oh, am I aware of the issues), but I don’t necessarily want to discuss them every time the subject comes up. And the problem with hanging out with a lot of literary, educated geeks is that they have a general tendency to want to analyze all the media they consume, which, for me, pretty much kills my enjoyment of said media.

        • JenniferP said:

          Here is a strategy for this: “Okay.”

          “I hate x show and think it’s really problematic.” “Okay.”
          “I love x show and think that it is great.” “Okay.”
          “X show is objectively greater than Y show.” “Okay.”

          People can discuss all they want. I can engage and argue where and when I have energy. When I don’t? “Okay.” Sometimes a little more pleased-sounding, sometimes really neutral. Try it and let me know how it works.

        • twomoogles said:

          I have a love/hate relationship with media analysis. I love it when I’m doing it, I love the discussions and the TVTroping etc. But I feel like sometimes it really lessens my enjoyment of the actual media! Sometimes, yeah, I do just want to watch something and not focus on the common use of Trope X…but I can’t always do that anymore because my brain has been conditioned to immediately start thinking that way.

          I understand what you mean about ‘every time the subject comes up’, too. I think some people think maybe you *must* be unaware of their viewpoint if you can possibly like X show, or something.

    • Xenophile said:

      Corollary to the corollary: it doesn’t hurt to be gentle when you’re stomping on the puppy of someone else’s favorite media. It’s sometimes a fine line between “I find that show problematic” and “Here’s a detailed list of reasons of everything problematic in that show and why supporting the careers of its creators is objectively unethical and no one should ever watch it ever,” but whenever possible err on the side of diplomacy, because these conversations already combative enough. (I need to print this out and hang it over my mirror to remind myself)

      • Avocado said:

        Very true.

        The other problem with the puppy stomping method is that, while it’s cathartic to vent all the reasons you HATEHATEHATE this show, it’s still not necessarily going to get you want you want, which is end to the “why don’t you like this?” pressuring. One of my friends to this day still nags me to give Sherlock another try.

        Next time the topic comes up, I really just need to say, “I don’t really want to talk about this anymore. Can we focus on something else? Something we both like?”

        • Michelle said:

          I don’t want to stomp anyone’s puppy, personally, but if a person has been fussing at me to give Thing a try, and I’ve said I don’t want to (or I have, and I didn’t like it), and they keep at it, or ask me why, usually I’ll do this:

          Me: Do you really want to know? Because I can go on for a while.

          That gives them one last chance to opt out or back off. If they say “yes, I want to know,” then I’m going to unload all my issues.

  75. gmg said:

    I very much understand loving a TV show or a book or a movie and wanting to share that with your life partner. But it seems to me there’s a potential logic trap to fall into in terms of believing said partner amounts to the sum total of the stuff he/she likes, as opposed to a self that is informed by those things. As a single lady I take a different perspective, I know, but the couples I know often like a certain amount of quite different media-type things (as well as some of the same ones), and that seems to work fine for them. I chuckle every time I go over to my (very happily married) college roomie’s house because you can tell EXACTLY which half of the bookcase is hers and which half is her husband’s, and there is overlap of maybe four or five books total.

    Like other commenters, I get the sense LW’s relationship could have bigger-picture unevenness issues in it, which The Question of To Watch or Not To Watch “The Wire” is standing in for. If not … well, all I will say is that perspective can come in handy sometimes.

    (All that said, this comment should probably be taken with a grain of salt given that I’ve never watched “The Wire”; while I well believe my friends who recommend it that it is the best television program of all time, they also unfortunately always tell me that “it takes five or six episodes to get into it, but THEN it’s really awesome,” which is the surefire quickest way to get me and my time management issues to decide NOT to watch something.)

  76. Tricksie said:

    “Pressure is the enemy of enjoyment.” = Perfect

    Am I allowed to out myself here? …I don’t like Dr. Who. I don’t. I have tried hard. Everyone thinks I should love it.

    I think it totally means I’ve relinquished all my geek cred.

    • Avocado said:

      The day I realized I didn’t have to like much, or even any, of the media that the Internet had deemed the Official Geek Media Canon to still feel comfortable in my identity as a geek was one of my happiest days. No more beating my head against a wall trying to care about Chosen Ones and quirky alien Jesuses and asshole genius anti-heroes. I’M FREEEEEE.

    • Marvel said:

      I used to feel exactly the same re: Doctor Who! You are not alone. I changed my mind about it after I stopped hating David Tennant for not being Chris Eccleston, but I still know plenty of people who dislike it. It’s not for everybody.

    • Xenophile said:

      Don’t worry, I don’t like it either. I also hate Breaking Bad with the fury of a thousand Hulks, and between the two, I have to avoid a lot of conversations at parties. But I’m okay with that.

    • aebhel said:

      I also don’t like Dr. Who. *solidarity fistbump*

  77. Briznecko said:

    My BF and I actually have a system for introducing the other to New Media Things, and so for is works really really well.

    We tried to find something we could use when making bets that was not sexual, and ultimately came up with “No-Veto” Movie picks. Basically if we were to bet on something (like how many people would ask if we were getting married while vacationing in Vegas), it would be for so many “No-Veto” Movie picks. (I currently have 5! Hooray!)

    The rules:

    -You get to invoke your “No-Veto” and choose the movie we would watch on a certain night, and that was what we watched. One “No-Veto” is worth two episodes of a tv show.

    There are TONS of caveats, though. Your picks had to be within reason. For example, he likes movies with exaggerated violence and I really don’t have the stomach for them, thus films like that do not apply. He can’t stand musicals, so I don’t choose those. In addition, usually before invoking the “No-Veto” pick, we check in and see if the other is has the energy to watch something totally new and outside of their normal-media zone.

    This arrangement works really well for us to share our personal media favorites. I prefer films from the 1910s-1950s, whereas he consumes mostly contemporary films, with a soft spot for cheesy 1970s-1990s films. Despite that difference, we like the same genre of films and once we get past our initial resistance towards New Media Outside Comfort Zone, the “No Veto” picks become new favorites.

    That system really works well for us – especially for me. Turns out I’m the most resistant to watching new things and you really have to (within reason!) push me to engage with it. This gave us a really strong framework with rules and boundaries that allowed us to do that, while making it fun!

    • Ziv W said:

      Me and Wife had something really similar. But it kind of broke down because whenever I said, “Hey, how about a No-Veto pick tonight?” she’d go “No, not tonight, let’s just watch (normal-media zone choice).” Eventually, I just stopped even mentioning it.

      I think if people are, to begin with, happy to try something new based on Partner’s recommendation or interest, then the whole situation is less likely to crop up in the first place. That’s not always the case – often because, hey, “trying things because somebody else likes them” is not on everybody’s list of favorite hobbies.

  78. It took me nearly 20 years to give They Might Be Giants a chance because of this exact phenomenon. For my part, I’m generally very timid about giving recommendations, and in fact am surprised, more often than not, when someone turns out to like something I like if it’s even the tiniest bit non-mainstream.

  79. SolitareLee said:

    I am so glad to see this on here, because I am her boyfriend (not literally, metaphorically, in my own relationship). And my boyfriend is CONSTANTLY harping on me to watch ALL THE THINGS with him and everything I show him that he enjoys turns into “I WATCHED THIS WITH YOU, WHY WON’T YOU WATCH MY THING.” It drives me insane. I just don’t like some things! It is okay for him to watch the things and me not watch the things (esp because he power watches shows for like 40 hours without sleeping and I’m more of an “episode a day” kinda person). And I STILL haven’t watched SFDebris new video for a movie I love because he literally sat in my room for 20 minutes, every sentence asking me to watch it, literally refusing to leave my room.

    • Erin said:

      There is a thing like “too much pressure” and your boyfriend is guilty of it BIG TIME. Sitting in your room for 20 minutes, refusing to leave it, is actually scary.

  80. TO_Ont said:

    I haven’t really had the problem people describe with being pressured to watch certain TV shows or read certain books, but it just occured to me that a lot of the anecdotes people are giving kind of remind me of situations with a certain few of my friends trying to get me to drink when I was like ‘no, thanks’. Acting offended, demanding I give them ‘reasons’, repeatedly insisting, insinuating that there was something wrong with my personality or life if I didn’t drink, insisting that I just hadn’t tried the right drink yet.

    I think it’s important to respect when people say ‘no thanks’, in all kinds of different situations.

    • I get this with both alcohol and coffee. For some reason I find it especially annoying with the iced-chocolate-whatever combos where everyone is all “just TRY it! you can’t even taste the coffee!” For one…yes, I most certainly can and it’s nasty, so stop. For two…then why the hell is it so damn important to you that I drink it? Are you trying to gateway me into espresso? And for three….I have a medical condition that causes a low-grade, constant tremor and caffeine kicks it into high gear. So I have a genuine medical reason to avoid the stuff, and you’re still trying to force it down my throat?

      The whole thing just baffles me. I’ve never once *insisted* that someone try a food or drink that I enjoyed. Offered, sure, but it’s just not that important to me that other people validate my taste buds. So I’m honestly confused by this kind of response.

      • monologue said:

        This is sooo annoying. I drink and do coffee, but sometimes I become defender of people who don’t against the people who do because I figure they must get sick of it. Especially with friends that I know their reason is because their body doesn’t like the drug, I tell people to knock it off right away and remind them that some folks can’t handle alcohol or caffeine. My #1 pet peeve though is people that harp on others for drinking water at a party or other event with a lot of alcohol. Not puking is a good goal, partygoers wtf.

        Everyone let’s stop pressuring each other :D

  81. Kim said:

    So count me in the group of needing to be in just the right headspace to watch something new, and oftentimes need the comfort of something I have seen before. My boyfriend gets frustrated at me (I think) when I don’t want to watch a new movie with him, but it’s because I know it’s going to need/deserve more attention than I can give it. When he suggests something light and funny though, I am much more likely to be able to sit down and watch it. So, I understand where he’s coming from – your suggestions are pretty full on, and they are shows I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time myself.

    But watching a good show together can be awesome. My friend group would watch Buffy together each week. It was the one show where no one was allowed to say anything while it was on, but we talk all about it when it was over. (I am terrible at picking at shows even when I love them which is why it is often better for me to watch alone or have a rule like with Buffy. My bf watches ‘his’ sci-fi shows with headphones on because I make him notice all the plot holes and mistakes.)

    So anyway, my suggestion is – each pick 3-5 shows/movies you want to share. Things that you would be happy to watch in any order, preferably with varying levels of heaviness. Give him a chance to research them on his own time and get to grips with them and excited about them like he did with GoT. Then when it’s his turn to choose something to watch, he can choose from your list and vice versa. That way he gets control over what he feels he is in the mood for, and you still get to watch something that you’ve been wanting to watch. Add new things as those things get watched. He might never get to The Wire, but at least the pressure is off, and it’s there as an option, and you’ll feel like you’re being heard when you watch other things on the list.

    • JenniferP said:

      The spam filter eats things for no reason sometimes. I fish them out as I have time! That’s the weird thing that was going on.

  82. matryoshka_core said:

    I think these exchange contracts should have limits. As in “I’ll watch five episodes of Buffy if you watch five of The Wire, after which engagement is strictly voluntary”. If you have a shared understanding of what giving a show a fair chance means, you won’t feel cheated if you don’t take up each other’s favorites symmetrically.

  83. ZerKo said:

    I have a problem of being like super sensitive to media. I have a lot of triggers, I’m gay and not white, and I feel uncomfortable with shows that are all white and focus on straight romance. I also have a low tolerance for sexism racism etc… and I have embarrassment squick (thanks Kaz!). Sooo I feel like a giant stick in the mud when ppl recommend me stuff and I dun wanna. And the more I get pressured the more I feel like I should tell them why so they will back off? But then I have to tell them about being gay or triggers or social justicey stuff and MAN that wouldnt be a good time for anybody. Some times ppl directly ask and that puts me on the spot.

    Is also hard when my friends are super into stuff (even when I’m not being pressured) cuz just them talking about it can be triggering. And I feel self-conscious about being so uncomfortable around it.

    short version: a lot of media gives me bad feelings, even w/o watching it, so that is another reason someone might immediately back away from a suggestion

    • Erin said:

      I think that’s all valid and most of the time, it’s best/totally okay going with broken record: “Thanks for the suggestion/I can see that you really like it, but no thanks.” “I said no thanks.” “Could we please change the topic now?” You don’t owe it to anyone to out yourself and as people’ve mentioned upthread: Giving reasons doesn’t necessarily mean people will back off. Being boring because you give non-commital repetitive answers is more likely to work.

      • MrsMorley said:

        Indeed, giving reasons often leads people to argue further

        • Suzy said:

          “No, I decide your reasons are insufficient and therefore you must watch/read said media and like it as much as I do,” is just really fucking obnoxious, to be honest. I’ve a lot of experience of this so I get really REALLY annoyed when people tell me I just need to give something a chaaaaaaance or that there’s something wrong with me for not liking something.

          Like for example: if I don’t like an episode of Dr Who, there are some people who I just genuinely can’t say it to. And let me say this: I haven’t seen an episode I *liked* in a lonnnnnnng time.

    • Beth B said:

      I very much agree with Erin here. You don’t have to out yourself for a show recommendation — you certainly can if you want to, but you don’t owe it to anyone else, including to explain just why you don’t want to watch that show/movie/whatever.

      If you want to give a little bit of detail because it feels too bare to you otherwise, you can be vague! No one deserves a detailed breakdown of why you don’t want to watch a thing, even if they say they want one. “No thanks, that’s not really my favorite genre.” “No thanks, I’m glad you like it but it’s not really my thing.” “No thanks, I’ve heard some spoilers that make me think I wouldn’t have fun with it.” But don’t expand on that if they ask, unless you actively want to talk about your objections: “Nah, I don’t want to rag on a thing you love and I haven’t seen. Anyway, [subject change]?” “I dunno, it’s just not my thing. I really like [other show/movie] though, have you seen it?”

      Or, if you want to be unspecific about whether you’re taking the rec: “Thanks for the recommendation, but I probably won’t get around to watching it any time soon.” “Thanks for the recommendation, we’ll see.” “Well, I’ll keep that in mind! Anyway, [subject change]?”

      I don’t watch a lot of tv/movies/etc because I don’t find it restful and I do find it time-consuming, so when I’m with strangers or acquaintances, I often fall back on that: “I’ll keep that in mind! But go ahead and mention spoilers, I don’t know if I’ll get around to watching it ever.” “I hardly ever watch tv, so we’ll see if I get around to it, but thanks for the recommendation!” Etc.

      • Kaz said:

        Or, if you want to be unspecific about whether you’re taking the rec: “Thanks for the recommendation, but I probably won’t get around to watching it any time soon.” “Thanks for the recommendation, we’ll see.” “Well, I’ll keep that in mind! Anyway, [subject change]?”

        I do this a lot in RL when people recommend movies or TV shows to me. I can’t really watch video very well due to overstimulation stuff, and I’m pretty sure the reasons are tangled up in a disability that I am not at all out about in RL. I don’t want to have to out myself, I don’t want to have to deal with the amount of argument that “sorry, I can’t watch video-based media” would undoubtedly provoke, so I just thank them for the rec and go “sounds interesting, I’ll think about it” and move the conversation on.

    • monologue said:

      I’m like this too, some of the same issues and some different ones. I also can’t even hear about some things and I explicitly tell my friends that. When I was a kid I used to get super stressed when I went to friends’ houses because I was worried I would be forced to watch stressful video. Now when I get a movie invitation I immediately ask what movie and look it up before confirming my attendance.

      Anyway, just wanted to say don’t feel weird or bad at all about this, you’re not the only one. And yeah, you can just say you’re not ok with something or watching/hearing about something stresses you out without volunteering any additional information. People who can’t accept that and press you for more info are being rude. I often use the phrase, “Oh, I can’t watch that” as if I have an allergy or something. I also often just say “Oh, yeah that’s really popular with my friends lately” or “oh, I should put that on my watch list” to end recommendation convos about stuff I may or may not ever intend to watch.

  84. Kim said:

    testing… haing trouble commenting

  85. Kim said:

    Now I can’t remember the whole long comment I wrote before… :(

    Short version is… you could try making a list each of 3-5 shows/movies you want to watch. All things you would be happy to watch in any order. He can go off an research them, get excited about them like he did with GoT, but then come back to you to actually watch them. When it’s his turn to choose what to watch, he picks from your list and vice versa. That way he can control what he is in the mood for, and you still feel validated and get to watch your stuff. He might never feel up to The Wire, but it will be there for him with no pressure, and maybe he’ll be less likely to go watch it by himself.

  86. Myrin said:

    What also manages to dampen my enjoyment of media is that I’ve become a much more critical consumer over the last year or two.
    I’ve always been very nitpicky about plotholes or inconsistency in characterisation/inconsistency in general, but I’ve also learned so much about sexism and misogyny and racism and ableism and everything basically that I react pretty allergically to missteps in these areas. (For example, I used to enjoy a whole lot of romantic comedies until I fully realised that Nice Guys are a thing and pestering someone into a relationship or even just their time is BAD.)

  87. A said:

    Gah, my brother could have written part of this letter. He watches a lot of series but I only watch two or three, so he always wants to see those with me the moment the episodes are on the internet. I guess he sees it as a brother-sister bonding moment? The thing is, even if I like those series, sometimes I prefer to watch them some other time on my own – but then he feels offended and goes “puppy eyes mode” insisting to watch them together. It’s so tiring, and it makes me dislike the series I loved.

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