Fringe Is Awesome, So Why Aren’t You Watching It?

Over the past three seasons, Fringe has steadily progressed from a show I only watched because it was made by JJ Abrams, to perhaps my favorite show currently on TV. It has everything you need from a TV Drama: attractive leads, sexual tension, an intriguing overall plot line, self-contained mysteries, comic relief, character chemistry, great acting, better writing, and realistic characters. And yet only a couple people I know watch it. So I’m going to break down the main reasons I hear not to watch Fringe, and counter them with logic and venom.

1. It’s Sci-Fi, and that is for nerds. I am a Cool Cat and therefore only watch trashy dramas and reality TV.

This is probably the number one reason I can think of for why people don’t watch this show. There is certainly a stigma against Sci-Fi that I’ve never been able to understand. I mean – don’t get me wrong – there is some BAD Sci-Fi. Some of my fellow science fiction enthusiasts might balk to hear this, but it’s true. Star Trek can be cheesy as hell, inconsistent, boring, ridiculous, poorly written, poorly acted, or any combination thereof. You can probably say the same for Doctor Who, The X-Files, the original Battlestar Galactica, the current V, or any number of shows. But I’m not sure that the percentage of bad Sci-Fi is any higher than the percentage of bad crime procedurals, sitcoms, medical dramas, or any other genre of television.

And besides, this ain’t your momma’s Sci-Fi. It’s called “Fringe,” not “Ridiculously Out There.” A lot of the “science” they deal with are just extrapolations of current scientific trends, and perhaps mere decades away from fruition. More importantly, the more outlandish elements are grounded by incredibly realistic characters. Walter isn’t just a “mad scientist.” He’s a man who would do anything for his son. He’s a man who ran his marriage into the ground with his actions. He is a man who is reckless at times, but also loyal and surprisingly compassionate. He’s funny, but also tragic. Peter is completely believable as a man who is too smart for his own good, who has used his intellect to cheat and scam his way through life. He’s a guy who is charming, street-savvy, and more down-to-earth than his father, but who is also afraid of commitment, occasionally amoral, and incredibly guarded. Olivia is a strong woman. She is definitely guarded and very reserved. She’s also driven and tough as nails. But she’s also capable of showing a maternal side towards her niece, and of being in a functional relationships. These characters are real, so when the plot gets crazy, we can take shelter in them.

2. It has an elaborate mythology. I don’t like to think and want my TV predictable and formulaic like Scooby Doo.

True, there is an elaborate mythology, but I fail to see why that is a bad thing. It’s also very slow-building, so if you’ve missed some episodes, it’s really not too big a problem.

Which brings me to a major point of contention I have with Media Muckety-Mucks. They seem to think that TV (or comic books) need to be accessible. I disagree.

Now, don’t get me wrong, TV should be accessible – in the sense that it should be… “inviting.” I don’t think a show should use a lot of techno-babble (I’m talking to you Star Trek, with your photon torpedos and your dilithium crystals and your dark matter and your phasers and your warp speed and your alien languages). I don’t think a show should be so devoted to an arc that it neglects characters and other plot lines. At the same time, I don’t believe that having arcs and continuity between episodes necessarily scares away new viewers (or readers as the case may be). For example, I watched Serenity without having seen any Firefly. I just went with the flow, and then bought the whole series because I was so impressed. Or Battlestar Galactica. I watched a random episode, liked what I saw, and then bought the first season. Compelling television should inspire people to get caught up, not confuse them so much that they leave. And Fringe is compelling television. The summaries before each episode – and the dialogue in the episode – do a decent job of recapping important information. And in this age of Hulu and Netflix, it’s really incredibly easy to get caught up with any series.

3. There’s no romance. I am emotionally barren and need to live vicariously through TV relationships to not feel so alone.

To this I can only reply, “SHUT UP.” I literally have no reply to this, other than that you either need to come to grips with your own singleness, or get off your butt and find someone to love. Just because the characters on this show are independent, self-sufficient people who are not defined by a significant other is no reason to hate them. And them choosing to show a modicum of discretion in their respective love lives doesn’t make them boring. Besides, there is a romance, between Peter and Olivia, and I have to say it is probably the most realistic relationship I’ve ever seen on TV. There was no “love at first sight.” There wasn’t even lust at first sight. There was no stupid “constant bickering that turns out to be twu wuv” plot line. There were colleagues who became friends, who over the course of years began to slowly want something more. There’s trepidation without angst, there’s attraction without flirtation, and there’s love without drama. It’s refreshing and wonderful to watch.

Those are the main reasons I can think people don’t give this show a chance. And that’s really all I’m asking. Get the first disc on Netflix. Find the first episode online. If you don’t like it, fine, but don’t ignore a show because of your preconceived notions about its genre or some crap like that.

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