A 10 Step Guide to Hate Watching a Show

By  · Published on July 20th, 2016

Using ABC’s Once Upon a Time as an example.

We all have that show that we cannot stand for whatever reason. The characters are annoying, the writing is cheesy, it’s a tacky “reality” show, all of your friends watch it so you just have to watch it too, whatever. But you still tune in every week to watch it, and every week you ask yourself, “Why am I watching this? I don’t even like this show.” The second you start asking yourself that, you have crossed into hate-watch territory. How did you get there? How did this something you once enjoyed become something you now hate? Here’s a step-by-step guide explaining the process using my hate-watch show, ABC’s Once Upon a Time.

1. The show has to have a premise or showrunner or actor that initially drew you into the story for whatever reason. In the beginning, Once Upon a Time interested me because I grew up watching Disney movies so obviously I was going to watch a show all about Disney characters.

2. Season one of the show has to set the bar high. The story flows well and organically and has just enough mystery or drama or emotion to hook you in. The first season of OUAT was exciting because it was charming and full of adventure and relatable and set up so the potential for the rest of the show. It was a no-brainer for ABC to renew it.

3. Season two is crucial because it has to wrap up loose ends from the previous season, while also further developing the initial story. It has to maintain steam so viewers don’t tune out. So did the second season of OUAT accomplish this? Yes and no. The second season is mostly filler episodes with the antagonists from the first season that are still alive and kicking and causing drama. And the new antagonists the show introduces are not evil, just misunderstood. But, I watched it because there was no way that first season was just a one hit wonder, right?

4. Wrong. At this point, the show has slipped into guilty pleasure territory. You have lost interest in the story and are now just watching for that one thing. Maybe it’s a resolution to a storyline or a character. For me and Once Upon a Time, that character that kept me tuning in week after week is Regina. Her character has had the most growth since the first episode and Lana Parrilla is consistently more fabulous than everyone else on the show.

Why is literally every character related somehow?

5. Now that you are totally sucked into the show, you simply cannot stop watching it. It is familiar territory that you feel comfortable with because you already spent so much time with it. It would feel like a waste of time if you quit just in the middle. So you suffer through the sheer preposterousness of Once Upon a Time’s Oz storyline and whatever new twist to the already complicated family tree the show has going on because you would feel even worse if you just gave up on it now.

6. You start noticing all the flaws and plot holes the show has and they bother you. Like, why do the rules on magic keep changing? Who keeps paying rent on all the abandoned characters’ apartments in New York City? Why does this show keep bringing back dead characters? Was there really a point to the entire Frozen storyline other than Disney exploiting its success?

7. There is one plotline that offers up hope for the show. It has so much potential to be great that you start thinking the show is back on track. The second half of season four was so exciting. It gave the show villains who are not looking for redemption (finally) and ended with a campy, fun, and shocking season finale reminiscent of the first season.

This was an ACTUAL important moment in the show

8. It gets so ridiculous and convoluted that you vow to quit. You actually start wondering if the writers asked children to start writing the show. Enter season 5 of OUaT and the tiring flashbacks on flashbacks on flashbacks, the hunt for the magic mushroom (which convinced me the writers were smoking ‘shrooms when they wrote this), and dreamcatchers sucking memories out of people’s foreheads. Literally, what even is this show anymore?

9. Acceptance of the hatred is key. You say it out loud. “I hate this show. Why am I even watching it?” For me, this moment came in the season five finale of Once Upon a Time when my suspended disbelief finally gave out. Did this show honestly expect me not to laugh at a teenager shouting to the people of New York City that throwing pennies into a fountain would bring magic back to the world? Do they not realize that the salty New Yorkers would probably just have ignored him? Have they ever even been to New York? Seeing this absurdity hit me like a truck and I uttered the words, “I literally hate this show.”

10. Lastly, you circle back to the fourth step. You repeat the process from there and tune in to the next episode fully aware of your hate because now you can laugh at it and yourself for still watching. You know there’s no hope for it, but you’re also five seasons into it. So, season 6 of Once Upon a Time, whatever stupid and ridiculous plot you decide to throw at me, I am ready. I accept your hate-watch status. I accept your nonsense for what it is: laughable nonsense.

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