With the recent announcement that NBC will be reviving it’s once-great drama about ordinary people discovering that they have extraordinary abilities (Heroes) for a miniseries in 2015, I’ve taken a deep breath before weighing in on the judgmentally -challenged network’s decision.
For those unacquainted with the show, the first season of Heroes is without a doubt the greatest season-long story arc I’ve ever seen accomplished in a television series. The second season was promising, but crippled by the Writer’s Guild strike, and thus half as good as the first. But still I kept my hopes up for the Monday night event that I looked forward to all week.
“Heroes” was a story told in Volumes, with the first two seasons being Volumes 1 and 2. The second half of season 2 was meant to be Volume 3, but it didn’t happen because of the WGA strike. The third season consisted of Volume 3 and 4. Volume 3 started out promising with an interesting new focus on some of the more vile people who had developed superhuman abilities, but the character arcs began to circle back on themselves and become repetitive. This problem persisted through Volume 4, which had a far less promising premise.
By the time season 4 of Heroes infected a dwindling population of American television sets, true fans of the show were ready to take the series out back and shoot it. It truly hurt to watch such a great show suffer so much. The character arc problems continued and the pace at which they repeated themselves quickened. The mythology unraveled. It felt as if new writers were brought in and given only Spark Notes on the show. There was no pay off, and the plot kept getting worse and worse.
In the words of Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory: “Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season until we were grateful it ended.”
All of this has been an elaborate set up for my own abusive relationship with the series. I tried Heroes for the first time when my mom went to Alaska to visit my older brother and I was left home alone for several days. I was just a high school kid, bored, looking for something to pass the time. The pilot had me hooked. I stayed up all night watching the first 8 episodes all in a row and arrived at my high school classes the next morning exhausted and hungover from my bender.
By the time I picked up on the series, Heroes was on that hiatus that most shows take around Christmas. It wasn’t but a few more days before I was caught up with the first 12 episodes and faced with a long wait for the show’s return in January. I used the gap to peer pressure my friends into joining my obsession, and soon we were gathered around, poorly supervised at someone’s grandparents’ house every Monday night, losing ourselves in Heroes. This was my senior year of high school.
Before heading off to college, I purchased Season 1 on DVD. After so many initial lonely nights alone in my room, I began my first failed attempts at branching out. They all centered around people that I already knew and getting to know their roommates. It was the lamest entry into the second degree of separation anyone has ever attempted.
One girl who had been in a few of my high school classes, Catherine, was living in an apartment off campus. Catherine and I never really hung out, more of just – around each other. We had some similar friends, one of my closest swimming friends in particular. Those first months of college, we went on road trips to Gainesville to see our mutual friend, and actually kinda got to know each other a little better.
Soon I was showing up uninvited at her apartment, leaving perverted stick-figure comics on her roommates’ communal dry-erase board, and forcing my Heroes problem down their throat. Catherine and one of her two normal random roommates, Kalina, both bit. Their other normal roommate, Connie, was shy and had a separate group of friends but also joined us at first. She soon fell off our break neck pace though, and then there were only three of us and frequent joiner, Luis from back home.
We tore through that first season, often watching four episodes in one sitting. It wasn’t much in terms of a fascinating social life, but it got me out of my dorm and off campus even. It helped me become friends with Kalina and got me talking to people that I didn’t previously know before. It was a small, disfigured step in the right direction I guess. More importantly, it was the Beta version of my LOST and beer pong nights, which formed the core of my socialization a few months later.
On a side note, Catherine and Kalina had another roommate, Jessie. Jessie was a hot mess, emphasis on the “hot.” She was very attractive physically, but had the worst personality in the world. There wasn’t much going on upstairs for her (her brain I mean, not her boobs – those were fine), and her biggest concerns all revolved around vacuous social functions. Jessie wore her virginity like a first place ribbon that she used to taunt guys with as she dressed scandalously and flirted relentlessly, sending the complete opposite message. She bragged about not drinking too, but that soon ended. Jessie and Catherine were in the same sorority, yet ran in separate circles. Being the messy roommate, Jessie would soon find herself at odds with the other residents of that apartment. Eventually she took a page out of my roommate’s playbook and just stopped living at the apartment.
There’s a key anecdote that captures Jessie’s wild and often moronic spirit. She didn’t like the taste of water. I can’t explain that. I can only state it as fact, the way that she always did. Instead, she hydrated using Diet Pepsi. How she still had teeth is a complete mystery to me. Well as I said, after getting to college she traded bragging about not drinking for actually drinking. Her “No H20” diet coupled with copious amounts of beer while tailgating before an early season football game in the ludicrous central Florida heat of August/September (they’re practically one 60-day long month down here) put her in the back of an ambulance. This was before her falling out with her roommates, so she just vanished one weekend after failing to meet up with them at the game.
I know that it looks like I glorify binge-drinking with some of these stories, but you gotta stay hydrated kids! Booze dries you out. That’s why your head hurts the next morning. Alcohol took the edge off of my social anxiety, and at the time I credited it more for my social accomplishments than I should have, but I’m not advocating that you go out and beer bong a six-pack right now.
Not until you drink plenty of water first.