The Simpsons is my favorite show, and my earliest distinct memory of watching it was when the episode “Bart of Darkness” aired for the first time. It was the first episode of the sixth season way back in 1994. I know this wasn’t the first episode I ever saw, because I remember seeing the show before that, but this is the first episode I clearly, vividly remember watching. Part of why I know this is because some stuff from the world of the show was over my head. I didn’t get why it was funny Milhouse had written “Milpool” on Bart’s cast, because I didn’t really realize that character’s name was Milhouse. At one point Dolph is whispering to Jimbo, and Jimbo says to Kearney that “Buzz says there’s an even nerdier kid with an even bigger pool!” I didn’t realize Jimbo was saying that was what the buzz said. I assumed Dolph’s name was Buzz, and I thought that for years.
Why the confusion? Because I had not been watching The Simpsons from the beginning. I had dropped into the middle, my guess is in the fifth season. Back then, you had to. There weren’t DVDs or streaming of DVRs. Now there is. The idea of just picking up a show midstream is becoming increasingly unusual. That’s my question of the week: Do you ever start watching a show in the middle of its run?
There are a lot of people who won’t do this, I bet. Obviously, with streaming shows that’s never going to really be a thing. You pick what episodes to watch. People rarely watch shows as they air. If you missed the beginning of a show, do you not bother? Does it have to be from the pilot on? For me, that’s usually the case. I don’t like dropping into a show, but I will in a pinch. The last time I did that, weirdly enough, was Breaking Bad. I had tried the pilot, but didn’t really love it. Looking for something to watch one night, I turned on the second episode of the third season of Breaking Bad. I was into it this time. I got the DVDs of the first two seasons. I watched highlights and read about the stuff I missed so I could keep watching. That was several years ago now, though. Since then, it has all been shows I watched from the beginning, by and large. I mean, other than, like, Chopped.
So what’s your verdict? Are you willing to not be in on a show from the beginning? Or is that just something you simply will not do?