There’s a TV show I’m obsessed with at the moment called Normal People – perhaps you’ve heard of it?
However, you probably watched it when it came out, in April 2020, whereas I’m only getting round to watching Marianne and Connell fall in and out of love with each other now.
“Have you been living under a rock?” you might wonder, which is the exact reaction I get when I tell people I still haven’t watched Bridgerton.
I guess you could say I like to take my time with things, because when it comes to TV, films, books and even albums, I feel like I’m constantly playing pop culture catch-up.
Mostly, I get to things just a bit later than the crowds. Sometimes, it’s nearer decades. Like how I only started watching cult-favourite The Office this year, even though it aired in 2005.
But it’s not that I don’t believe the hype. If anything, the more someone tells me about a film I just HAVE to watch, the less likely I am to tune in any time soon. Some of my friends have stopped sharing their Netflix recommendations with me altogether, knowing it’ll be a good six months until I’ll be ready to start it.
It seems I’m not the only one. Stylist’s Alice Porter agrees. “I cannot watch a really popular show mid-hype. If more than five people recommend it to me, I’m pretty much definitely not going to watch it for, like, a year, because I get overwhelmed by the hype.”
“I try and save myself the grief and wait until popular shows are out of the collective consciousness, so if I don’t end up liking them, I won’t feel like I’m in the wrong,” says journalist Michele Theil.
But let me be honest: I’m not fully advocating for this way of life. It does have some drawbacks.
I’ve gotten pretty used to feeling like I’m from a different planet when the group chat is going crazy over Line Of Duty and I’ve yet to start the first series. It can definitely stir up some FOMO, and on more one occasion I’ve pretended to watch something just so I didn’t stick out as the only one not obsessed with Schitt’s Creek.
You become expertly trained in the art of dodging spoilers, too; though if I’m honest, having endings ruined for me doesn’t bother me very much. I’m a person who googled the ending of Fight Club because my curiosity was moving faster than the film was, after all.
And I guess it can be a little disappointing that by the time I do come around to things, and find something I really want to rave about and dissect, the zeitgeist has moved on and pop culture has left me in the dust. In our trending culture, this seems to happen at an increasingly fast rate.
But when did it become a contest to be first past the Pose post? It’s A Sin will be just as good and important in October, and Euphoria’s greatness isn’t limited to a timeline. So what’s the rush to get these shows over and done with so soon?
This is especially true at the moment, where everyone wants their hot take for Twitter and memes are circulating before the episode is even over. It can be overwhelming and hard to keep up, to say the least.
Because I think there’s actually something nice about watching I May Destroy Youafter the (well-deserved) hype has died down.
There’s no time limit on great art, whether you read Girl, Woman, Other after it was a summer hit or you only watched Parasite after it won an Oscar (which I, of course, still haven’t.)
Most of us know one of those culture snobs who considers themselves morally superior because they listened to Lizzo right from her early EPs and you only became a fan after Truth Hurts. Surely my way of doing things – arriving fashionably late to the party – is a better alternative?
So let’s lay off the pop culture latecomers. I’ll wager that we enjoy ourselves just as much, if not more.
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