Damon vs Stefan, McDreamy vs McSexy, Rick vs Shane – How tv shows dominate my life

Night is starting to fall as they’re walking through the woods looking for the escaped hostage. You could cut the tension with a knife, but we’re still hoping that they will get past their issues – and then Rick kills him. WHAT?! That’s how I, and probably millions of other fans, felt during the big showdown between Rick and Shane in the second last episode of The Walking Dead’s second season.
Over two seasons, people either favored Rick or Shane, were divided in two camps like the Twilight fans. You don’t like Zombies? Well, how about The Vampire Diaries? Did you not almost cry out of joy when Damon said “If I’m gonna feel guilty about something, I’m gonna feel guilty about this” and then kissed Elena?
You can find this concept of two really charismatic, opposite characters that are strongly connected with eachother in many tv shows. In The Vampire Diaries, you’re either on team Damon or team Stefan because the two brothers are rivals in the fight over one girl. In Grey’s Anatomy, at least when Marc first appeared, it was McDreamy or McSexy – best friends that hate eachother, again, because of a woman.
What is it that makes us skip a date on a friday night, just to be with our supernatural crush?

Identification

Tv shows often show a wide range of characters that allow the audience to feel like they know them. “He so reminds me of..” is a phrase I could use when talking about pretty much any series. That instantly makes the protagonists likeable and we connect with them, even if they are characters that we would be scared of in real life like Dexter Morgan (serial killer) or Tony Soprano (Mafia boss).  Or we even see ourslves mirrored in a character, making us empathetic and possibly even root for that person, like mentioned above.

Relationships

We’ve all had or still have relationships and even though every relationship is different, they all have some basics in common: people are happy, people get hurt, they break up and find new partners. Which is why we enjoy watching our heros get caught up in the strangest, most difficult love triangles, suffer with the ones who get cheated on and cry over every sweet love confession. Not only because we can relate to their problems, but also because we secretely dream of two gorgeous men that spend their immortal lives loving and protecting us – while our partner sits next to us on the couch saying “This is so gay, I would never do that”. Yep, I know..

Christina learns that Owen has cheated on her, Grey’s Anatomy

Excitement

However, we don’t only want to relate to the things we know, but we also long for the extraordinary, the excitement that we are missing in our lives. We want  to escape our routine by watching the characters do what we would never dare, like dating EVERYONE of our friends or spread dirty rumors about them (yes, I’m talking about Gossip Girl).
This is probably why shows with supernatural elements are so popular at the moment: The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, American Horror Story or Supernatural. All of them let you discover a world that is far away from your own.

Cliffhangers

Another thing that makes tv shows so addictive are their so-called cliffhangers: at the end of an episode something happens that makes the audience need to watch the next episode in order to understand that last scene. In contrast to movies, that usually provide closure, a series theoretically never ends. It’s a great way of getting us hooked and even more torturing are the season finales: you wonder how the show could possibly go on like the finale of Dexter’s season 6.

Dexter gets caught by his sister, Dexter

We exchange our feelings and thoughts about the show with other fans on the internet like the people did in this discussion. Which leads me to a point that I hadn’t thought about before my friend told me that he watches series because he likes talking about it afterwards. So it’s also the social contact that results from having the same interest that draws the audience to their tvs, either by watching an episode together or simply by talking about it.

I know that I spend too much time on watching shows, but I can’t help it: I’m the perfect victim for tv producers.
But since I don’t want to suffer alone, here’s a (long) list of series that I can’t resist:

  • Oz (1997-2003)
  • The Sopranos (1999-2007)
  • Dexter (since 2006)
  • Californication (since 2007)
  • Grey’s Anatomy (since 2005)
  • Private Practice (since 2007)
  • The Walking Dead (since 2010)
  • Game of Thrones (since 2011)
  • American Horror Story (since 2011)
  • Gossip Girl (since 2007)
  • The Vampire Diaries (since 2009)

Sitcoms

  • Coupling (2000-2004)
  • Peep Show (since 2003)
  • New Girl (since 2011)
  • Modern Family (since 2009)
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