I leaned forward in my chair as a lumbering and overgrown Dexter Morgan wandered, determined, toward a mill worker’s hut in the series finale of hit television crime serial “Dexter” – who (2013 spoiler alert), just minutes earlier, had sensationally dumped the body of his beloved sister into the Atlantic and sailed off into a CGI cyclone worth about $2 of the show’s budget.
This was it. It was finally ending.
An inexplicable and unwavering loyalty was developed during the first year of the show, the premise of which was actually very enticing: a serial killer hunts the bad guys that got away while working as a Miami detective. After overlooking eight seasons of plot holes the size of Texas, I was a hole-weary old man as the ticks of the series’ dying seconds struck me faster than Dexter’s blade could swing.
I was leaning so far forward on the sofa I was almost on top of my coffee table as Dexter himself sat down inside the hut, lookingly menacingly out the window. Suddenly his gaze locked onto the camera, not only smashing out the fourth wall with one of the logs he’d just ‘jacked, but my FUCKING FACE as well.
With an utterly abortive mess of a finale, Dexter had immediately upended the self-indulgent cut-to-black open-ended ‘ending’ of The Sopranos from some years earlier, and in the same manner that I point to Metallica’s Death Magnetic album as the one of the worst mastered albums that exists on CD or download, Dexter’s legacy now is to exist as a bottom-rung television comparison.
And I spoiled it to do you a favour.
What I’ve realised in the A.D. years – After Dexter – is that sticking to a hit that’s turned shit is not a one off behaviour for me.
While I might have trusted no one on the writing staff at The X-Files by Season 9, I’m still
eagerly begrudgingly awaiting the next Peter Griffin vs. Chicken fight, or use of Conway Twitty on Family Guy. I wanted to walk out into the sunlight by the end of True Blood, and I want the walkers to eat me by the end of every episode of The Walking Dead. But still I persist; actively seeking out the new episodes as they land each week, fresh off the torrent boat – and I’m certainly not alone in the habit.
Somewhere within the stone-cold nuclear-proof confines of my being exists an unbelievable will to punish myself by endlessly pushing through life’s raw sewage, in a manner similar to a CityCat sailing up the Brisbane River.
But unlike trying to satisfy another person, there is no actual recipient of your unbridled loyalty when it comes to downloaded television – illegal or legal. People can be loyal to each other through even the most trying events, but television is an inanimate object undeserving of your continued affection. Your television set just displays what it’s fed, and acts as a wall to the loyalty spewing out of you like a Sim in The Sims.
I am a completionist as much as the next television viewer, but like any episode of The Biggest Loser/My Kitchen Rules/Married at First Sight/Masterchef/I’m a ‘Celebrity’, Get Me Out of Here/The Bachelor/The Block, why can’t we just turn shit off?
Every time an empty and jaded writer in Hollywood feeds us an entire episode tracking an irrelevant side character, we just get on all fours and lap it up because of our previous captivation. Our emotional ties to characters and storylines drive an unwavering and irrational attachment to a series, and amidst entire seasons of intermittent abuse of the relationship, we just come back again and again. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for a condition like that… but I digress.
I guess television really is an analog of life itself: willingly hurling lovable streams of endless emotional abuse of all kinds in my direction.