Caring about the characters in TV shows and movies is the same as following a sports team.
There I said it. You have seen memes and posts on Facebook but I’m declaring once and for all, it’s the same to me. Before you balk at this little proclamation let me say this. I do follow one sports team: the Atlanta Braves. My husband has been a Braves fan for years. I knew when I married him that from the end of March through the end of September, or October if they’re doing well, a Braves baseball game will be on TV at least 3 nights a week. So over the six years we have been together, I have come to know players names, what positions they play and even a little about their opponents. I don’t actively seek out information about the Braves but it is always there floating around the house.
TARDIS picture by AntToKnee Lacy on Flickr
Braves picture by my hubby
I say this so you, dear reader, know I am not coming at this connection as a complete outsider to either realm. I know a bit about being connected to a sports team and I know a lot more about the connections to characters in my favorite TV shows and movies. This post is going to show you how much of a nerd I am. You have been warned. I am not ashamed of this fact.
When I started to watch Doctor Who on Netflix last year I went through lots of ups and downs. I became so invested in the show and learned as much as I could about it. This meant discussing the characters with friends and sharing my reactions. When the Doctor saved the day, I was ecstatic. When he lost someone close to him or regenerated, I was devastated. My caring about these things is akin to how people feel when their team wins or loses.
When the Braves lose, it is a disappointment to me. I’m sad because my team lost. This is exactly how I feel when in Once Upon a Time Emma becomes the Dark One. What does that mean for her and the rest of Storybooke? It’s a sad place to be. It’s the loss of a character I know and love. Eventually the good character may come back but it will take time. Just as I know the Braves will have a chance to win the next game but that doesn’t mean this loss is any easier to take.
When the Braves win, I’m excited. Probably not as excited as my husband, but I am excited nonetheless. This is exactly how I feel when Luke looks at his father and says, “I’ll never turn to the Dark Side.” You know in that moment what is happening is powerful and strong. You know when it’s the bottom of the ninth inning and you’re down by 4 runs, the bases are loaded, you have one out and your star hitter is coming up to bat, something powerful is happening. The tide is shifting. There is a moment in every great story where you know no matter how dark it is, good will win. It will not be easy. It will take work, but it will happen.
That’s why we love stories like in Miracle where the US hockey team beats the former Soviet Union. They shouldn’t have been able to do that but they did. Harry, Ron and Hermione had to search high and low for the horcruxes but once they found them, Voldemort was able to be defeated. In Invincible, we watch an ordinary guy reach extra ordinary heights as part of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.
People are drawn to sports because there is so much riding on each game. Will your team win or lose? It’s always up in the air. I’m drawn to epic stories and fantasy because it’s not up in the air. Good will win. Evil will lose. It’s just a matter of how they get there. While others may not enjoy this predictability, to me, it’s comforting. Our lives are full of the unknown. Will you regret eating that extra piece of chocolate? What will the weather be like tomorrow? Will this political candidate win the election? The outcome is never certain. Having a space where for an hour or two, the world will follow a semi-predictable construct is a wonderful way to escape reality. And after all if you ask any sports fan, won’t they say they love to enter into the world of the game and follow along with the story as it unfolds?