For months leading up to the release of the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix, I was looking forward to watching the episodes and laughing uncontrollably and loving every minute. I didn’t talk about it, because for whatever reason, most of my friends aren’t really into the show, but I knew it deep inside. I was fully prepared to be obsessed.
Then the episodes were released, and I hesitated. What if, I thought, I’ve been waiting for all this time only to discover the new season wasn’t actually very good? Could I live with that realization?
I decided that I couldn’t, or at least not right then, so I held off watching the show.
Then I watched as the reactions to it came in. The overwhelming majority said the new episodes weren’t nearly as good as the old ones. Suspicions confirmed. I knew I’d one day watch them because how could I not, but for the past 5 months, I’ve been too reluctant to experience that kind of disappointment.
Finally, last night, quarantined in my apartment by a bad cold, I gave in. I bought pad thai so at least if the show was awful I’d still get some enjoyment out of the evening. I clicked on the show on Netflix and held my breath as the first episode loaded.
It was the first season. Once I realized this, I stopped it and then paused. Last chance to turn back. I still had the opportunity to not be disappointed, to continue living as if Season Four might really be as good as all the others.
But no. It was time. I found the right season and started the episode.
It wasn’t that bad! It wasn’t as good as the previous seasons, no, but it also wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever watched. I almost laughed out loud once.
Is it because I’m so much more easily impressed than the rest of humanity? Pretty sure that’s not it. I think it’s just that my expectations were so low that it was easier for the show to reach that bar.
Which maybe isn’t the best way to live your life–always expecting the worst–or so I hear, but the strategy worked for Arrested Development. Maybe not having such impossibly high expectations for things isn’t doing you a disservice by making you live pessimistically. Maybe it’s not even an example of being pessimistic. Maybe it’s simply not setting yourself up for failure; it’s preserving your chance to be pleasantly surprised. It’s setting yourself up to think positively when otherwise you may have only focused on what the situation or experience wasn’t.
It’s giving you the opportunity to almost laugh out loud–if that’s not a good thing, I don’t know what is.