On tumblr I have seen I do not know how many posts from people who “can’t wait” until the next season of Sherlock, the next installment from the Marvel Avengers’ movies, Doctor Who, or any other highly anticipated television show or movie. Many of these people are my friends, and yet I still can’t help getting annoyed when these pleas for faster releases escalate. You can’t die until after the next season premieres? That’s all you need to have a complete life, really?
True, we live in a world that instantly gratifies our wants in ways that previous generations couldn’t have dreamed. We can talk in texts that arrive in our inboxes instantaneously. John and Abigail Adams had to wait for months for letters to travel back and forth across the Atlantic when he served as Ambassador to France and England, but I skyped with my parents weekly when I studied abroad at Oxford last fall. I’m not saying these things are inherently bad, but they raise our expectations and make us more impatient for everything else. This is one of the reasons why older generations see us as a pack of whiny, spoiled brats. We have forgotten that for some things, the waiting literally makes the final product better and here’s why:
- More time= better final product. (Just ask this guy) Making quality products takes time. There is a reason why so many people comment on the brilliant writing and genius of Steven Moffat’s television shows, and why they are so anticipated. He takes the time necessary to create a great product, to let those genius plot twists and excruciatingly beautiful dialogues fully develop before transforming them into scripts and television moments that the rest of the world sits on the edge of their seats to watch. It’s also the reason why there isn’t as much anticipation or acclaim for so many American television shows that are there all the time. We only have to wait a few months for the next episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager? There’s a reason all the characters are flat and each show plays out like a very unconvincing public service announcement about pre-marital sex (I say unconvincing because, well, it seems like everyone talks about the dangers of unprotected sex and then do it anyway).
- The months of anticipation actually make the final product, the moment when the title sequence scrolls across the theatre or television screen, more enjoyable. This is the time when fandoms truly shine. Everyone claims to be “dying” in the waiting period, when actually they are thriving the show’s leftover creative energy. Why were there so many amazing costumes and events surrounding all the Harry Potter book and movie premieres? Because the fans had months and years to consider how they would celebrate. On tumblr right now amidst all the whiny, impatient posts, other users are creating subplots, hypothesizing on what will happen in the actual premiere, and re-analyzing the great moments in previous episodes or material. Or maybe they are even writing their own scripts, making commemorative tea blends for their favorite characters, or creating inspiring fan art. If Doctor Who or Sherlock played all year-long, none of these people would have time for other projects. When the television show or movie does finally arrive, these “waiting” periods will only enhance the viewing experience.
I have personally tried to foster this patience in my own life. I waited to watch Sherlock until the end of the semester, after I had finished all my finals and had gathered plenty of wonderful feedback on why I should devote my time to watching it. I then purposefully watched the second season on PBS so I would be forced to watch one episode a week, like it was meant to be seen. I loved every moment and I’m so glad I built in more anticipation time for myself. That’s probably why I’m so obsessed with the series now, although my previous obsession with Sherlock Holmes and all thing Conan Doyle probably helped.
I also advocate patience and waiting because I study Victorian Literature. When I tell people this, they think of those big, 2 volume novels and scrunch their noses up. But what they don’t realize is that of course these novels are horrible to read all at once; they weren’t written that way originally. Charles Dickens wrote his novels to be published in monthly periodicals, to be read in short installments. Read over a long period of time, his epics become even more involved and exciting. His fans acted just like Steven Moffat’s fans do today. It’s said that when boats came in to the American harbors, the people on the docks were so nervous to hear of the end of Little Dorrit that they would shout up, “Did she die?” and demand answers before unloading the cargo. If waiting was good enough for Dickens’s readers, then it’s good enough for me. I think I’d rather wait.
(PS. As for you Sherlock fans on tumblr, have you never read the original series? Watson is fine and duh, SPOILER ALERT: Sherlock comes back so they can be “flatmates” once again. Please stop worrying over the season three premiere and go read the original series. You know, the ones in BOOKS.)