You’ve been avoiding it for weeks, making up excuses and justifications for your absence. You just don’t know if you can devote hours to this relationship anymore. If this sounds like you and a once-beloved TV show, here’s how to tell if it’s time to break up.
The episodes keep piling up
This is usually the first sign of trouble. Of course, not everyone watches their shows live, but even if you DVR or watch on Hulu, chances are you’re at least catching the episode within a week of the original airing so you don’t accidentally catch a spoiler while scrolling through Twitter. But if you keep finding reasons not to watch and the numbers start to approach double digits, it might be time to ask yourself why you can’t catch up.
It’s getting harder to suspend your disbelief
Some TV shows require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, or, as in the case of the mysterious smoke monster from Lost, a lot. If a premise that once felt rock solid to you starts to feel a little flimsy (ahem, The Walking Dead), it’s okay to step back and re-evaluate your commitment.
More questions than answers
TV shows that dive deep into their own mythology can be incredibly fun to watch. Westworld is a huge hit, thanks to incredible performances from Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood, but also because it’s a puzzle the Internet loves to solve. The same goes for shows like Orphan Black, Sense8, and others that love to answer one question with three more. A few seasons of that kind of narrative rollercoaster can be taxing, though, so if your tolerance for ambiguity isn’t what it used to be, don’t be afraid to say, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
The tyranny of sunk cost
If you’re curious to keep up with a show but can’t fathom spending another 30 or 60 minutes a week on it, do yourself a favor and switch to recaps. I gave up on The Walking Dead way back in season three but still read the occasional recap, which is all the engagement I need with the often frustrating show. And who knows, taking a little break from a show from may even rekindle your love for it.
There’s a major shakeup
Between actors, producers, writers, and executives, there are a lot of moving parts in a successful TV show, and it’s inevitable that a show will undergo changes that will affect its personality, sometimes fundamentally. I loved the first season of Sleepy Hollow, which mixed historical drama with a clever time-travel element, but when the writers inexplicably torpedoed Abbie and Ichabod’s relationship in favor of an endless plot revolving around his witchy wife Katrina, I checked out. It can be hard to admit that shows change, but there’s no reason to stick around just because you were there for the beginning.
There’s a lot of television out there and you can’t watch all of it. So the next time you start to get stressed about all those episodes of Superstore in your queue, take a deep breath and remember that life is too short to waste it on bad TV.