I Never Wanted to Watch TV Alone

Do you want to watch with me?

This Friday is the series finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I am so excited! But less excited that I’m going to be watching it alone.

I grew up in a family that watched way too much TV. The television was always on, though often muted: a constant background to our lives. Saved by the Bell reruns did my homework with me. The Simpsons brought the whole family together every week.

And my mom and I especially bonded over watching Gilmore Girls together, until I went off to college.

Then, I had a weekly ritual of watching Gilmore Girls with my friends in the apartment next door to mine. We’d get Chinese takeout and cheer on Rory and Lorelai while eating General Tso’s tofu. When they invited me over, I felt the family-like feelings I hadn’t realized I was missing.

I don’t watch as much TV anymore, and I’m really strict on screen time with my 4-year-old daughter. But I have some really fond memories of bonding over television.

During one of the hardest times in my life, I subsisted off of cookie dough and solo rewatches of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Only Willow understood me.

You know that feeling? When you think you’re connecting emotionally to someone or something, but then you zoom out and realize you’re actually laughing or crying in a dark room all by yourself?

Then a friend — who had just gone through a breakup too — invited me to his apartment to binge Arrested Development together. We could laugh together and not have to say a word. When we did speak, it could be in TV quotes:

“These are my awards, Mother, from ARMY. The seal is for marksmanship, and the gorilla is for sand racing.” — Arrested Development

One day we took a break from our binge to drink a bottle of wine and jump in his apartment complex’s pool with our pajamas still on. We laughed at the ridiculousness of life. And then we binged some more. It helped. It really did. We finished our Arrested Development rewatch and moved on to The Office. By the time we finished, I felt ready to go home and face the world again.

Part of my husband getting to know me was sharing Arrested Development with him, sharing Buffy. Sharing The Office. Like these shows I loved were a part of me. Binging shows together gave us even more of a shared language.

When The Good Place premiered, I asked him to watch with me and he said no.

“I just don’t like TV as much as you,” he said. “I’m more of a movie guy.”

“But, didn’t you hear? It’s the golden age of television.”

So I watched The Good Place alone every week, and wished he was watching with me.

Jason: We love each other. She makes the bass drop in my heart.

Janet: And Jason is a person who was near me, and then he asked me to marry him, and there is nothing in my protocol that specifically barred that from happening. So I agreed.

Jason: Love you too, babe.

— The Good Place

Finally, just before the season 3 finale, my husband saw a minute of it over my shoulder, and said, “This looks really good.”

“You can’t just watch it from here! It’ll spoil you!”

“Okay, fine, I’ll watch it.”

I started laughing and kissing him. I put off watching the finale, so we could watch the whole series together first. When he said he’d watch it with me — and when he really enjoyed it — I was in my love room. It’s the same feeling as when he reads my writing and likes it. I shared a piece of myself; he validated it.

There are a couple shows my husband and I watch regularly together: Game of Thrones! (We just did a rewatch of season 7.) Parks and Recreation is one we discovered and watched together. We just practiced our Spanish while binging El Ministerio Del Tiempo on Netflix. We pretended we weren’t exhausted parents and binged Russian Doll all in one night.

But he didn’t watch Girls with me. I watched it alone. I bawled alone to the finale. I was a new mom, and I found that ending to be perfect — I don’t care what anyone else says — and I wanted to share it with someone. So I shared my feelings with Reddit, where there are always other solo-watchers happy to discuss my favorite shows.

I don’t want to watch alone, but I don’t know what else to do. Who else is with me, besides my husband, in these villageless nights? I no longer have the next-door neighbors who watched Gilmore Girls with me. No more punk houses full of roommates, often ready to rewatch Arrested Development after a successful night of dumpster diving. I just have my husband and my kid. I have a lot of friends, but not watch-TV-together friends.

Mostly that’s okay. We instead play board games together when we can. We have picnics at playgrounds, stealing conversations while our kids ask us to push them on the swings.

I like my life. But this Crazy Ex-Girlfriend finale feels like a big deal to me, in a way no one in my house can understand. (I mean, that would be pretty weird if my 4-year-old could understand.)

So I’ll watch it alone, and I’ll get super-excited about answers to all my burning questions:

Did she really pick Greg? Or Josh? Or Nathaniel? Please let them all end up in a consensual, polyamorous love quadrangle! Or will the writers sweep away all the love bullshit and remind us that her true story isn’t about a man?

I’ll watch the finale. And then I’ll go on Reddit to discuss it with strangers. And, for now, that will have to be enough.

Empathy for the win! Published in Gen, Human Parts, Heated, Tenderly —Feminism, Sexuality, Veganism, Anti-Racism, Parenting. She/They darcyreeder.substack.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store