“Say what?“, you might say. “You’ve quit BONES? When did THAT happen?”
Well, I’m glad you asked, because this is something I’ve been wanting to talk to you all about. This wasn’t a New Year’s surprise resolution or something; this was something that happened before I ever started blogging about BONES. Several times, I’ve told you all about how I came around to BONES, but I don’t always talk about the summer I took a break and what it was that brought me right back in. I think some of you might be feeling like you need a break, but you’re not sure what that means, so I just want to share my story.
I started watching regularly scheduled episodes of BONES in season three, with Man in the Mud, after the writers’ strike. I loved and still love that chunk of BONES episodes… Baby in the Bough, Verdict in the Story, etc. There were a lot of annoyed fans that summer, people who loved Zack and thought the show was ruined, but I was still new to BONES; we were in our honeymoon phase, and as Brennan might say, we were still ‘feeling each other up’. Haha. But, it’s sort of true. I’d gotten connected with some fun people in the summer of 2008, and that’s when BONES became more than the show for me.
And that sort of two-pronged ‘deal’ has continued to this day. BONES is a show I watch and Bones is a community of people I talk with and like and argue with (sometimes!). Does that make sense? Sometimes those two parallel things cross paths, and there are times when I feel the need to quit one and focus on the other. When I get stressed by viewer comments or twitter responses, I get back to my ‘roots’, ha, and I watch the actual show. The 100Days project helped me with that. I was always ‘talking’ about BONES, but was I still connected to the actual show any longer? I needed to know what I was talking about.
Likewise, when the episodes are hard to watch, and I feel confused by them, or when I lose my ‘faith’, there are friends and other writers who come alongside of me and speak words of wisdom; they point out examples to show me that I’m not alone, that what we’re seeing isn’t the end, etc. I find this community invaluable.
But there was a time when neither of those things worked any longer. I wasn’t satisfied with BONES, the episodes, and the community also didn’t seem to be working. Let’s go to the scene of that crime:
#1. “God spelled backwards is dog” (Worst Booth line in history. Worst BONES line in history? Possible)
#2. Angela getting hit in the face with flying poultry (it was so lame, not even a ‘that’s what she said’ joke works)
#3. “Quirky” (at best) BONES eps that felt like a departure from the show I loved (Double Trouble, Double Death)
#5. Storylines like bringing in a possible love interest for Booth like Agent Perotta. Hadn’t that ship of an idea had sailed with Sully in Season Two? Wasn’t that old news? Hahahaha. Ah, haha.
Don’t get me wrong; there are a LOT of things I LOOOOOOOVED about season four, and it has some of my all time favorite moments, like we’ve talked about in some of the scene studies. And ConMan in the MethLab, Mayhem on a Cross, Science in the Physicist…those are in my top 20 eps ever. Love them. It was more that there were just these little…other moments that I didn’t like.
It’s probably April 2009; I’m driving home from work, and I see an email on my BlackBerry; there’s a new BONES spoiler. This one was a doozy; there would be a guest star. Booth’s dad? No. Ryan O Neal again as Max? Nope.
Stewie. Stewie Griffin was going to be on BONES.
The show that had put Brennan on the stand and given her a very heartfelt “I don’t matter!” speech in season one (Girl in the Fridge). The show that had brought me to tears more than I could say…was bringing in a cartoon character? And not just as a dream or something random…Stewie was going to be instrumental in the storyline I’d been so anxious for: Brennan wants a baby with Booth.
W. T. F?
I emailed my friends and complained (and I actually LIKE Stewie and Family Guy!), and I pulled into Dairy Queen’s Drive Thru for a little Raspberry Truffle Blizzard therapy.
Also, on my office desk was copy of TV Guide magazine, with this on the cover.
First of all, gorgeousity. Gorgeousness. Lovely people! And they were going to ‘finally see some real action’, right?
So…then, Critic in the Cabernet aired, and I felt jolted, but sort of full of remorse. I had placed judgment based on the spoilers and hadn’t waited for all of the evidence to come in. Sidenote: I know I moan about spoilers all of the time, but honestly the reason I really stopped reading spoilers was because of this episode. I was tired of saying “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be” or “That wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be”. It just seemed unfair to the episodes that I was going into them with my own expectations. Critic in the Cabernet wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Stewie putting his two cents into Booth’s sexy business wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
But then, The End in the Beginning aired. I wasn’t one who felt cheated by the fact that we’d been ‘lied to’ from the TV Guide article. It just reinforced my burgeoning feelings that spoilers could not be trusted, and that each episode should speak for itself. I’ll talk more another day about my issues with EitB, but basically, like I mentioned the other day, it feels like a big inside joke I’m not invited to, and I feel annoyed by that. Once the series is all said and done, I’ll watch it again and look for parallels, but for now…I just can’t deal. I don’t expect BONES to always be wrapped up neatly, but in this case, not only were existing questions not solved (what about the baby deal, what about Hodgins and Angela, what about…a lot of things, like Booth. And Booth’s hair!) but a lot MORE questions were created. We just talked the other day about the finales and premieres being two-part episodes, and I still like that idea. But for every other season finale, we’d at least had SOME resolution, and in this case, there wasn’t really any closure (in my opinion, of course!).
I’m sort of getting off track, because I’m not intending to bash BONES here or list all of my issues with it. I only mention these things to show where I was in the summer of 2009 after season four and to tell you exactly how my faith was restored and remains to this day.
But at that time, I was slightly annoyed. I didn’t have the heart to talk about episodes any longer; there seemed to be no point. What did it matter if the existing storylines weren’t going to be developed? What did it mean? Why was I spending HOURS of my life thinking about the show, wondering what was going to happen, placing hope on B&B getting together? I stayed away from spoilers that summer, and that worked pretty well, but still, for the most part, I was dreading season five. I didn’t love the show any more, and I wasn’t sure I ever would again. Or I should say, I loved it, but I didn’t really like it. I so appreciated what minnkim said here the other day.
“I am one of the fans who is absolutely hating this season. I hate the direction this show is going in and nothing they’ve shown me so for is making sense to me. I hear comments to the effect that I should just stop watching the show then, if I hate it so much. This isn’t the solution for me. To me it is like the unconditional love a parent has for a child, while really hating the behavior or action that child maybe exihibiting, the love doesn’t really diminish while viewing this undesirable behavior or actions. The underlying love is still there for this show. This is how I feel about Bones. I love this show, but hate the behavior or actions occuring within it now. Does this make sense?
Do I give up on this show? Do most parents give up on their children when it is hard to love them? No! I will ride out this season in hopes that the storyline will once again show me why I first fell in love with Bones. I hope the show I once loved will return, and with it my enjoyment in viewing each new episode.
That’s so fair and true. Each of us has our own reasons for loving BONES, and when those reasons are taken away (it could be science, it could be shirtless Booth. It could be both or neither or any number of things), it’s not comfortable. But when do you quit something you love? It’s not about being a ‘fan’, necessarily, because for a lot of us, it’s sort of gone beyond that point. Whether that’s healthy or not, I’m not sure. Actually, I am sure that it’s probably NOT! Haha. We talked about that a few months ago, whether or not BONES was good for us.
In my case, I had gotten stuck in a routine where I was watching BONES as ‘work’. I was reviewing each episode for GMMR, and so BONESdays meant ‘work’. I had let that happen, and I was watching each episode from the eye of a critic, trying to find mistakes, or, if I’m honest…(and you all know me well enough by now to know this is probably true), trying to overlook the mistakes and spread love and good cheer to all BONES fans all over the world. I know sometimes I catch some flack for not really mentioning Hannah scenes in my current reviews, but honestly, I just try to stick to the “if I don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” frame of reference, and usually…well, that means not really discussing those scenes.
But back to the summer of 2009!
I was sort of dreading season five. I wasn’t sure what to expect (a side effect of the spoiler-free life). There was a lot of anger in the BONES world, and I felt I had to solve it (I’m misguided, but that’s my truth!). I was guarded, not wanting to give too much of myself toward the show anymore.
Season four ended in the middle of May, and season five didn’t start up until the middle of September, four months later. That’s a long time! And honestly, I was out of the ‘habit’ of BONES. I didn’t visit sites or do much of anything BONES related. I’ll also be honest and say that I considered not doing the reviews any more. I needed something to change. And then Harbingers in a Fountain aired.
There was something about these smiles on Booth’s face, after a pretty steady episode of him not quite being sure of himself…that just reassured me. I didn’t have all of the answers, but I thought, “okay, Booth is back. He has a story, just as much as Brennan, and we’re going to do this.” And season five feels the most intimate to me, as far as BONES and I together. After Bond in the Boot, I swore to myself that I would approach each episode, not from a ‘work’ standpoint, but as best as possible, as a fan, as a viewer, as someone who wanted to watch it. For the most part, it worked. There were/are still things that annoy me (cough*Daisy*cough), but it still makes me laugh, cry, feel, think, connect…more than any other show.
I was putting too much pressure on the show. I was using it for my own gain: to be popular, to be accepted, to be right. I had lost sight of the big picture; there were/are millions of BONES fans who liked the show for different reasons, many of whom had liked it long before I’d ever even HEARD of the show. But I was too self-centered, and I expected every episode of BONES to make me happy and be this big, gigantic awesome thing. The truth is…rarely do I find BONES episodes to be completely satisfying, even ones from seasons 1,2,&3. Is that strange? Possible! But the series as a whole…I find it very compelling and satisfying. There aren’t a lot of TV shows that I watch. I’m more of a reader. I don’t watch procedurals or crime dramas or anything else like that. The story of BONES is what keeps me coming back. I’m curious to know what’s going to happen to these characters. I care about them, and well…that’s it. I care about them.
It’s what keeps me connected to it. It keeps me curious. I once stood outside of a Berkeley bookshop at midnight with about 10 high school students from different countries so they could purchase the newest Harry Potter book. I have THAT kind of excitement for BONES. If you are like me, you are finding that when you watch older episodes, expecting to be soothed from the current angst, it works about 75% of the time, but then 25% of the time, it brings even MORE despair, more awareness of loss of innocence for B&B, more awareness that it will only be more pain for them to finally be together, etc. That sort of sucks, doesn’t it? I’ll also be honest, it annoys me that I find myself weighing EVERY BONES MOMENT against the 100th or against DitP. It shouldn’t HAVE to be that way, right?
But when that happens, I take a step back and examine all of the evidence…or, that is…all of the evidence I have. Nothing about it is perfect; hasn’t been since the pilot. There are inconsistencies between that episode and other season one eps. There are storylines that might not ever see completion, for one reason or another. There are things said and done that annoy me. But I still love it.
Sometimes, some of you email me or send me private FaceBook or Twitter messages, asking me how I keep the faith, how I can stay so positive. I don’t always have an answer, except to say that I’ve been there. I don’t have the market on confidence in BONES, believe me, and you all know that! But what works for me is knowing myself as best as possible and knowing what works for me and what doesn’t.
Spoilers; they don’t work.
Hanging out on Twitter during an episode: that usually doesn’t work.
Expecting every episode to be a major turning point in the series: that doesn’t work.
Writing a blog: that works.
Examining the series as a whole/studying moments in context of one another and character development: that usually works
Each person is different, so it’s up to you to decide what works for you. But for me, I stopped doing what didn’t work and I started/kept doing what did. Sometimes, I have to separate myself from the episodes, and sometimes I separate myself from other people who watch BONES. With some people, it’s best that we don’t even talk BONES much, as we don’t really agree. I find that I value their friendships more than BONES. When I get stressed, I detach as best as possible. Is that the wimpy or easy way out? Possible. But in the grand scheme of my life, I have to make a decision, and the result of that decision is that I’ll focus on the good and consider the ‘bad’. And I’ll do my best not to make any series-wide judgments until the series is over. Does my lapse as a ‘fan’ make me less of one? Does my return make me a better one? Those questions are impossible to answer, because there are too many variables, too much emotion involved. And so, for you, you might be weighing those kinds of questions yourself.
If you feel like you need to take a break from the episodes, do that! Or maybe you need to stop reading Bones Theory. Or maybe you need to stop hanging out on Twitter or places like that. You probably know what’s best for yourself. I have friends who are very supportive of me as a writer, but who don’t watch the show anymore. I tell them to switch it around, and I’ll tell you the same. Forget about me (or twitter, or forums, or whatever), and just watch the show. See what happens. Or do what is right for you.
Feel free to reply below, but you don’t have to. I’m just presenting my side of things; how I was frustrated with BONES, and how I learned that having some patience and waiting to see what really happens (not what I think should happen or what TV Guide, etc, say will happen) has really worked for me.
I came back to BONES because of the characters, the development, and the journey and because of the people I’ve met along the way. I’m glad I did.
Peace, Love & Bones,