Everyone has an idea of what they like, but sometimes we’re willing to try something new. We might have some preconceived ideas about a TV show or book or food that we will or won’t enjoy, but once in a while, we’re pleasantly surprised.
So, group, what did you give a go that you didn’t expect to love?
Dorothy Snarker: Sleepy Hollow. Time-traveling revolutionary war Ichabod Crane returns to solve mysteries in present day and avert a pending apocalypse? Yeah, no thanks. But in reality, holy crap is this show amazing.
Elaine Atwell: I think I have had a shitty, pretentious attitude about fully half of the shows, movies, and books that have ended up dwelling closest to my heart. Buffy for example, was this dumb, low-budget show starring a girl who looked totally unheroic to me, and I’m ashamed to say I mocked it every time I happened to flip past it on a channel surf. I mean, to my credit, it is a pretty silly show, and like a lot of sci-fi/fantasy, it requires an initial leap of faith from the viewer. It wasn’t until college, years after the Scoobies left the airwaves, that this girl who I was convinced was the arbiter of cool convinced me to give it a chance. It became my favorite show and the girl became my best friend, partly on the strength of that recommendation.
Kim Hoffman: Don’t get me wrong—watching Orange Is the New Black was a religious experience from the beginning. I was hooked and my girlfriend and I made it through the whole season in, like, three days—but when I first saw this “Netflix Original” up on my screen of selections, I wasn’t capable yet of giving Netflix proper credit for what would turn out to be SO. DAMN. AMAZING. My gut feeling was: “Really? Netflix Original? Ha!” Well, Netflix. You get the last laugh, because the second season can’t come quick enough. I would throw a pie for you any day, just to express my love and appreciation/apologize for ever doubting you.
Lucy Hallowell: This isn’t exactly something I thought I wouldn’t like but I my expectations for The Fault in Our Stars were kind of middling considering the other John Green book I read exactly capture my heart. But holy hell, TFiOS absolutely amazed me and kicked my ass all over the place. I was a sobbing, sniffling mess of ugly cry.
Dara Nai: I tend to judge films and TV shows by their titles and therefore, avoid anything with the words “wedding,” “wife,” or “marriage” in the name. The only ones I’d even consider with the word “bride” in the title would have to star Kristen Wiig, or be followed by, “of Frankenstein.” The entire nups genre makes gag; I’d rather poke my eyes out with a corsage pin than watch someone’s frantic, or soul-searching, or wacky journey down the aisle, and subsequent marital sitch. So when I finally gave in and watched The Good Wife, I was happy to find it didn’t suck. It didn’t suck in that call-me-later-I’m-watching-a-Good-Wife-marathon way. Now, if only they could send those two annoying kids away to a Swiss boarding school for the rest of the series, the show would be freaking perfect.
Valerie Anne: My biggest surprise for this year was Doctor Who. It was one of those shows that was always in my peripheral; something I would hear buzzing about here and there, and knew vague details about (time travel, big blue box, aliens) but not much beyond that. Then all the hullabaloo started about the 50th Anniversary Special, and so many of my friends who I consider to have similar tastes in television were excited about it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Even after the first episode, I was fairly apathetic. It was cheesy and weird and the effects were not exactly mind-blowing, but it was funny and that girl Rose was kinda pretty, so I journeyed on. By episode three, Charles Dickens was exclaiming, “What the Shakespeare is going on?” and I was laughing and clapping and my nerd-brain was quite satisfied. It wasn’t until the end of Season 2, when I was crying so hard I thought I might never stop, that I realized that I not only loved this show, but was quite emotionally invested (and would never stop loving Rose Tyler).
Ali Davis: I don’t remember what I thought Pretty Little Liars would be like before a bunch of my fellow AE writers talked me into giving it a try, probably because there is so much of my old, pre-PLL life that I can’t remember. It just looks like a grey haze with a lot less insane joy in it.
I guess I thought the show would be some silly teen thing with regular high school secrets. Instead I’ve been having an absolute blast working my way through the first couple of seasons with my jaw on the floor from all the mayhem and death and not-death and terrible, terrible decisions, laughing from all the fun the writers (and actors, and costumers, and prop shop people) are clearly having, and yelling at the Liars for thinking up the genius plan of investigating something in a cemetery at midnight with no defensive weapons AGAIN.
Probably the most fun has been tweeting my astonishment (there is always astonishment) at each new-to-me episode to these same ladies, who always seem you reply “Ha ha, you have NO IDEA lighthouse mask eldritch vapor Egyptian curse manimal booby-trapped pogo stick earrings,” and then I know I need to watch another episode the next night, even though we all already knew that I was going to do that, because come on, how do you stop with this much awesome?
Thank you, ladies, for bringing so much silly, loopy fun into my life. And for showing me that the Liars are in all of us. And for me, that goes double for Spencer.
Heather Hogan: I was convinced there was no way Orphan Black could live up to all the hype. I mean, come one. One random Canadian TV actress who no one’s ever even heard of can’t be that good, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Tatiana Maslany blew my mind-grapes over and over and over during the first season. In fact, I’ve actually watched all 10 episodes four times each because I can’t stop marveling over her performances. There isn’t a single scene where you can wrap your brain around the fact that one person is playing all these different characters. Even when three of them are in the same room together, interacting, you can’t wrap your brain around it. For someone who was so apathetic and prepared to be unimpressed in the beginning, it’s kind of hilarious that I was ready to burn Emmy Awards HQ down to the ground when Maslany didn’t get nominated this year. She was actually better than the hype.
Karman Kregloe: Exactly what Heather said. I continue to re-watch Orphan Black they way I re-watch Battlestar Galactica, only without the sleep deprivation caused by a four season marathon.
Dana Piccoli: Skins. Man oh man. My friend Matt kept telling about this series I just had to check out. Lets say I wasn’t exactly sold on a the idea of a show featuring a bunch of oversexed, drunken, British teens. Plus, what was up with that weird theme song. Anyway, I gave in. I sat through the first three episodes thinking, “I can’t stand this show. I don’t like any of these characters.” Then something happened during the fourth episode, and inexplicably, I fell in love with the show. Like head over heels in love with it. Much to my delight, I loved seasons 3 and 4 even more. Emily Fitch cracked me right open. Naomi Campbell dismantled me. Effy made me woozy. Fucking Coooooooook! (I really didn’t like that last set of kids however.) Skins Fire was simply a nightmare I had while suffering the effects of food poisoning.
Nicole Schultz: I can’t believe I am admitting this. I like Dr. Phil. Don’t judge me. I defy you not to fall in love with his country charm after just one episode. I may have in the past been known to look down upon daytime programming. But now that I work from home, I have fallen for that mustached advice giver. Plus witnessing other people’s amplified crazy makes me feel slightly more normal.
Grace Chu: Seitan. You cannot avoid it if you socialize with lesbians. was skeptical and against my food religion of the carnivorous temple of noms—but it is a great base and can be quite delicious.
Trish Bendix: I’m not big into YA and so I could never get into Harry Potter or Twilight (after multiple tries) or all of the things that a lot of people seem to live and die for. So when The Hunger Games was getting buzz, I proceeded with caution. My wife and I were preparing to make our cross-country move from Chicago to Portland, Oregon and so I chose to purchase the audiobook. We listened eagerly to Suzanne Collins‘ saga of Katniss, moving onto Catching Fire before we arrived at our destination. It almost made me want to hop back in the car and head back East.
Readers, what did you end up liking that you thought you might not?