Everybody knows the value of a first impression, but particularly TV viewers. If a show starts off on a bad foot, it's can be so hard to overcome that first impression later down the line. It's possible, sure, but a show has to be VERY good in order to win us back over again. Sometimes a show wins us back once it's retooled itself, hired/fired actors, shaken up the writers' room, or finally found its storytelling footing. But if we're being honest, a lot of bad impressions are OUR fault. Personally, sometimes I'm just not in the right frame of mind, or perhaps I was disappointed when a show was not what I was expecting. Or, most commonly, I was just being a straight-up snob about it. In these situations, my coming around on a show was more a matter of finally getting what the creators were trying to do and giving the show a chance to really develop.
Even just a casual perusal of my favorite shows reveals I was wrong about A LOT of them at first. This list is my way of owning it! Here are the shows I love even though they made a bad first impression on me:
The Bad First Impression: I just straight-up did not get the pilot. From True Blood's opening scene of random rednecks at a convenience store to the insanely unappetizing chemistry between Sookie and disheveled, creepy vampire Bill, I was so distracted by the things I didn't like that I failed to notice the fun parts.
What Changed: Honestly, I only stuck with True Blood because the Blu-rays were lying around. But my opinion definitely changed in a big way after the graveyard scene. You know which one I mean: The part where Bill dramatically emerged from a shallow grave and then did the dirty with Sookie right there in the mud. It's that sort of craziness that's had me hooked ever since.
The Office (U.S.)
The Bad First Impression: The American adaptation of The Office is pretty notorious for its first-season mistakes. First of all, adapting the pilot script from the British version only served to make it seem unfunny and unoriginal. But my arms were crossed from the get-go, seeing as it was totally unnecessary to remake such a perfect series anyway.
What Changed: I snobbishly avoided The Office until well into Season 3, when too many people I know and love were raving about it. I finally gave it a chance when my sister made me watch "Casino Night," probably one of the most important episodes in the show's history. Even though I barely knew the characters, I could see that this version of The Office was definitely its own thing: hilarious, surprising, and heartbreaking. That final kiss between Jim and Pam? So great.
The Bad First Impression: I'd heard a lot about British cult comedy The Mighty Boosh and wanted to check it out, but my interest waned in a big way after I looked up some of its sketches on YouTube. Total mistake. The "Old Gregg" scene, specifically, seemed to be a unanimous favorite among internet users, but I did not enjoy it and I wrote off The Mighty Boosh as a result.
What Changed: No less than TV.com's own Tim Surette introduced me to my first proper episode of The Mighty Boosh. Lo and behold, watching the first episode first is probably the best idea! That was a much better point of entry as it demonstrated who these guys were, their senses of humor, and weird personalities. I tore through the entire series on DVD, and even the "Old Gregg" scene seemed suddenly funnier when put back into its original context. I mean, it still didn't make sense, but by that point I'd been clued into the fact that things didn't have to make sense.
The Bad First Impression: It wasn't even that anything I'd seen of this show was terrible, per se. It's just that I wrote it off as yet another of USA Network's all-blue-sky drama procedurals with slick locations, easily digestible humor, and no personality.
What Changed: Late-night channel-surfing! I caught the tail end of an episode and was immediately drawn in by how well-edited it was, of all things. You probably won't even believe this, but Matt Bomer wasn't even on-screen yet, so I didn't actually know which show I was watching. But I thought this Mozzie character was pretty fun, and oh hey, there's Tiffani Thiessen! Now I love this show, but this was definitely a situation in which my snobbery had gotten the best of me.
The Bad First Impression: By now we know that divisive comedy duo Tim & Eric are some of the most influential figures in the comedy world, but back before Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! put them on the map, they made thirty episodes of this Adult Swim oddity. At the time I was watching a lot of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and I just could not believe this poor excuse for an animated show (their mouths didn't even move!) was on national television. I probably only ever watched twenty seconds at a time before angrily changing the channel.
What Changed: A friend of mine took me to see Tim & Eric live on stage, and at that point I didn't make the connection that these were the same guys behind Tom Goes to the Mayor. That show remains one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life. Not only did I reach some kind of pain threshold from laughing so much, their work was just flat-out inspiring to me. I returned to Tom Goes to the Mayor with a new understanding of their humor and to this day I'm an unabashed fanboy of basically everything they do.
The Bad First Impression: Considering I was fresh out of college and extremely judgmental about pop culture, I had every reason to assume this dance-based American Idol rip-off wasn't for me. But then I caught a few minutes of Season 1 and my suspicions were confirmed: sequins, jazz numbers, an awful, braying lady judge. Nope, I'll pass!
What Changed: That first impression was short-lived. I gave it another shot only a few weeks later and was immediately sucked in by a group number choreographed by Wade Robson that felt like something out of a Tim Burton film. From then on I was incredibly impressed by the sheer talent and versatility of the dancers, but I also came to really enjoy the unique charms of aforementioned judge Mary Murphy. And two words: Cat Deeley. Man, I love this show so much now.
The Bad First Impression: Confession time: Before becoming hooked on TVD during its Season 1 finale, I'd had a few run-ins with the show prior to that and I did NOT like it. Don't be mad, but I just didn't understand the appeal of the two leads who weren't in Rules of Attraction, and I hated how dark everything looked. I was also probably suffering from a bit of vampire fatigue, I suppose, not to mention the diminishing returns of Kevin Williamson-style dialogue. But the thing I hated most, and I mean truly despised: the flying credits. WHY did they zoom out at us? They were so distracting and inappropriate!
What Changed: Katherine, for starters. Her arrival at the end of Season 1 triggered that pleasure center part of my brain that was like, "Oh, it's THIS kind of show." After that, the more I watched the more I liked it. Obviously. Season 2 maintained that kind of off-the-wall storytelling and I've absolutely loved Season 3. PLUS the flying credits don't even bother me anymore. So... My bad, The Vampire Diaries. Won't happen again!
Now it's your turn! Which of your favorite shows did you start out hating? And what changed your mind?