A startling confession brought my household screeching to a halt last Tuesday night. As the words tumbled out of my partner's mouth I felt a sickening sensation in the pit of my stomach. The room began to spin. I had to sit down.
"This... this can't be true!" I stammered. But in my heart I knew it was. Hayley had just told me she had never watched The Wire.
While I can't rightly classify the act of not watching one of the greatest television shows of all time a deal breaker, I can tell you this; it skirts pretty bloody close to that line.
In a noble attempt to fix her I went downstairs and rummaged through some storage boxes. Eventually the treasured artefacts of a bygone era were dug out and I returned triumphant to the lounge. I sat her down, opened the season one DVD boxset and queued up The Wire's opening episode.
Instantly we're in Baltimore's crime ridden inner-city streets. Bang on a week later, we're still there, midway through season three. No doubt tonight we'll grind through another couple of eps. It's fair to say say she is way down in the hole.
Mission accomplished then.
This account makes it sound relatively easy. But getting someone into a series is a fraught business filled with easily dashed hopes and broken expectations. To avoid the burning sting of a spurned show you find yourself part salesman ("This really is the best show you could watch right now. It's the same show I watch when I watch a show!") and part pusher ("Just try the first episode. Go on. Try it. Just once. You'll love it.") as you try to reel in your mark.
Sorry, I mean significant other.
Of course while you're on the hard sell, selflessly doing your best to enlighten and improve the life of your partner/flatmate/whoever, all you're getting back is unwarranted cynicism and incredulity.
"It can't be that good", "That sort of thing's not really my bag,", "Would you shuddup about The Wire already?".
Well, that's how I acted just last year when the roles were reversed. After coming clean about how I didn't just not watch Breaking Bad but actually went out of my way to avoid ever seeing it I swear I could physically see her mind ticking over as she weighed up whether or not she should pack her bags and leave right then and there.
A scene from the TV show Breaking Bad.
Obviously she didn't, instead opting to go full Walter White on my ass and begin pushing the show's blue crystal until I was a full fiending BB junkie as well.
It wasn't an easy road. I was a tough customer. Interested, but not that interested. All the usual selling points of accolades and acclaim meaning nothing in the face of my ostrich-in-the-sand approach to anything that even remotely deals with the terrifying topic of cancer. Eventually, perhaps inevitably, I caved. The persistent and reasoned persuasions of an attractive woman too much for even my deathly fears to refute.
Working our way through that first season I watched Breaking Bad while she watched me watching Breaking Bad to ensure I was watching it right. No phone, no talk, no tweets.
After each episode, an interrogation; "What did you think of that one? Did you like it? Pretty good eh? Okay, get comfy. We're watching the next one."
Which is pretty much the exact behaviour I find myself exhibiting now we're watching The Wire. In fact the above conversation is verbatim from last night.
Still, it's reassuring to note that it's not just pop culture addicts like myself that behave this way. As this one biased example conclusively proves normies are just as bad when it comes to pimping a show onto someone.
This got me pondering as to why it's so important to us - all of us - that our shows receive a rapturous reception when we introduce them. After all they're just TV shows. It's not important. It doesn't matter. Who the hell cares if someone likes it or not?
Well, it seems, everybody does. Doubt my wisdoms? Try this; Ask someone what their favourite show is. Then tell them that show sucks. I guarantee that once the barrage of abuse subsides you'll find yourself sat in front of their telly, listening to a rousing, passionate speech about the show's merits and watching said show's opening credits roll before you even know what happened.
I'm not smart enough to figure out what this says about the human condition but from a purely selfish perspective - my favourite of all the available perspectives - it basically meant that if I was able to get Hayley hooked then not only would I be able to watch The Wire again I also wouldn't have to look for a new place to live.
* Do you face similar problems when sharing TV shows? How do you convince people to give your favourite series a chance?