Oh man, wouldn’t that be the fucking worst foreshadowing? Tomorrow I awake to a tumbleweed in bed next to me?

I care too much about television. This should be clear if you’ve lurked on this page at all. Impassioned pleas for people to watch You’re the Worst or gushing unashamedly about Black Mirror and Mad Men are basically my bread and butter. It’s something I get hyped about. When a show sucks me in I get involuntary physical reactions. I feel for characters, I yell out loud, laugh heartily or even dissolve into an emotional puddle. There are a multitude of fictional characters I care about exceedingly more than flesh and blood IRL humans. There’s so much amazing television out there right now and finding it gives me admittedly far more pleasure than watching television merits.

Conversely, I’m keenly aware of when a show doesn’t scratch that itch for me. It happens quickly. Maybe the dialogue seems thin, I don’t like the editing or the storytelling seems unintentionally messy. If I’m not connecting to it, I don’t want to watch. It feels like a waste of my living hours viewing something that I’m not enthusiastic about, especially when there’s an abundance of quality programming out there. “Quality” is probably an unfair judgement to attach. Just because I don’t enjoy something, that doesn’t mean that there’s something inherently wrong with it. It just means that it’s not for me. I don’t expect the entertainment world to cater to my needs and wants, but I know that as a white straight cis male it often bends over backwards for just that purpose. To summarise, the right show can poke me right in the endorphins, but if it doesn’t feel right it often feels wrong.

So here lies my problem. It’s a problem of insignificant severity, but it’s persistent. It’s been a constant for years and it’s never truly mattered, but still it’s bothered me:

I can never seem to find a partner who likes the same shows I lose my shit over. Every relationship I’ve been in, we’ve managed to find some middle ground. That middle ground, though, rarely ignites the passion either of us have for the media we consume. Sure, we enjoy these shows, but they don’t inspire rabid ranting, raving or slavering.

I mention this because my girlfriend last night voiced her frustration that we’re really not into the same stuff. The running trend since we’ve got together has been television tastes that miss each other like clumsy jousters. The qualities she and I look for in shows are wildly different. We’ve tried with shows each other are passionate about, but our responses to one another have usually been little more than mild disinterest or an it’s not really my kind of thing sentiment. We’ve have one or two things we watch together, but the intersection is so slim that it involves actual research in order to find a winner.

It sucks. It really fucking sucks and I understand her frustrations entirely. It sucks, because after umpteen times of showing someone High Fidelity and getting apathy in response, I know exactly how she feels. She wants to share something with me that holds a place in her heart. The fact that it’s not connecting feels like I’m rejecting a central part of her. I get it. Holy shit do I get it. After years of craving the experience of sharing pieces that have burrowed themselves deep inside my ventricles, I’ve kind of given up the ghost and accepted that it’s truly not important.

As a teenager I watched High Fidelity on repeat. I read the book eight or so times and I internalised it to such a degree that my rose tinted glasses clouded my vision. I began to follow Rob’s “what really matters is what you like, not what you are like” mentality as a personal mantra. Hearing that a girl enjoyed the same music or movies resounded in my ears like a marriage proposal. I’d look at her inside a halo of cartoony hearts and ignore anything that made her seem less than perfect. I tried to make these connections happen, but every time it worked out that something didn’t quite fit. I’m not saying that there’s any issue with having a partner who shares your tastes. Not one bit. However, if that’s all you share the connection you crave might not be there.

By the time the film ends, Rob has learned that it really is “what you are like” that matters. The irony of it all is that it took a hell of a lot of growth on my part to stop tuning out that little detail. The relationships I had where I fell in love with mutual interests, they fell apart pretty quickly. The relationships based on shared values though? That was where earnest affection and care made themselves apparent.

My girlfriend and I may not have instantly apparent intersections of taste, but what we do have is communication, empathy and understanding. These traits help the relationship stay afloat and stable. The longer we’re together, the more time we have to look into those intersections and find media that reflects what we do have in common.

It’s not like either of us are leaving any time soon.

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