What guilty pleasure have you embraced this year? What have you just accepted as something you enjoy and stopped denying it? What do you enjoy that would surprise people that know you?
I would have to say Science Fiction. And I don't mean the crappy sci-fi books or movies or television programs where a half-man, half-goat rides around on a giant snail. More specifically I mean the Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams kind of Sci-Fi. The kind of Science Fiction that has deep, in-depth characters, humor, and interesting, detailed plot lines. I was always dead-set against reading or watching anything considered Sci-Fi (except "Star Wars," obviously!). I didn't like the fans of Sci-Fi, I didn't like the story-lines of Sci-Fi, and I didn't like the fake make-up jobs and cheesy plot lines in most Sci-Fi movies and TV shows. But slowly I got into the Sci-Fi that these two amazing writers and producers had created.
I would have to say "Alias" was the first. When I watched it in the late 1990s, I kept telling myself it was a spy show, not Sci-Fi. No matter how many Rambaldi artifacts were brought into the story-lines, and no matter how many characters were killed and then regenerated, I still maintained that it was just a spy show. It was a show about a young, hot-looking spy. That's it. It's not Sci-Fi.
Then came "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." These were vampire shows. I didn't think about the fact that vampires could be considered part of the Science Fiction genre. Besides, the story lines were interesting and the characters were unique and deep. I never watched these shows when they were on originally, but in re-runs on cable. I hid this from most people in my life. At least I tried to. vampires are cool and all, but these shows by Whedon were more than just vampire shows. They were dramas. The story lines included heart break and romance and world domination. Yet I was still embarrassed to be caught watching these re-runs.
I must admit I never got into "Lost" even though it was a JJ Abrams created show and was very popular. I'm not exactly sure why. It must have been on at the same time as something else that was watched in my house. I am still old-school: I don't have TiVo or DVR. I have VHS. I can watch one thing and tape another. That's it. And if I'm out of the house and I'm going to miss a show, I have to either watch it online or I have to miss the show.
This year I finally came out of the Sci-Fi closet. I was sad when Whedon's "Dollhouse" was cancelled at the beginning of this year. There was no hiding behind the fact that this show was Science Fiction. I also rented JJ Abrams' version of "Star Trek." This was obviously Sci-Fi. It was a re-imagination of one of the longest running Science Fiction shows of all time. And it was really good. I watched "Serenity" (which is a sequel to Whedon's "Firefly") on the SyFy channel. The other thing that I realized is that I had these weird mini-crushes on some of the stars of these shows. If I saw one of the stars of a Whedon or Abrams created show on another show or in another movie, I would watch it.
Amy Acker, Eliza Dushku, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin and Summer Glau are some of my favorites. It is because of Baccarin and Tudyk that I started watching "V" (which was also cancelled this year). If I heard that Amy Acker was going to be on a show ("Happy Town," "Cabin in the Woods," or "Once Upon A Time" to name a few) I would watch it. When re-runs of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," starring Summer Glau, was shown on SyFy, I was there. I still don't know how I missed watching "The Cape"! The sad thing for a newly-out-of-the-closet Sci-Fi fan is that most good Science Fiction doesn't last. "Alias" was only on for five seasons. "Dollhouse" was on for two. "Happy Town" lasted about five episodes, if I remember correctly. Most of these shows are popular to only a select group of people and these people are not Nielsen Families. These people are nerds. They're geeks. The only time you know a show is popular with this sect is when a show is announced to be cancelled. Then the emails and websites and petitions come out.
So here I am. A Sci-Fi fan. It's my guilty pleasure. It is my escape. I'm looking forward to JJ Abrams' next "Star Trek" film. I can't wait for Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing" (starring Amy Acker!) and "The Avengers." They may not come out to critical acclaim or make buckets of money at the box office, but they'll be great. To me. Any time a television show ends with this or this, I know I'm going to love it. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.