While 12/12/12 came and went without much fuss, it will forever be remembered by me as the day I finally broke my Scandal cherry. I visited my parents house, and my mom—an avid fan of the show—happened to be watching last week's episode on her DVR. That instance marked the first time I'd seen even of a minute of it.
Yet, despite the fact that Scandal isn't on my must-see-TV radar, I'm very aware of it's popularity. When the show airs, both my Twitter and Facebook timelines are filled with "Scandal"-related comments, and 99% of said comments are followed by an exclamation point, including this gem from everyone's favorite social media maven, Luvvie:
"SCANDAL!!! OMGGG!!! I CANNOT. I CAN'T. I AM UNABLE TO CAN. I HAVE THE INABILITY TO CAN!!!!!!!! *faints* LEMME LAY HERE!!!"
While there are shows like The Cosby Show and Law and Order that seemed to be watched by everyone, few have the Scandal effect where, while they might not be the most popular, its fans are "Stans." Basically, they've been able to cultivate a fan base so fervent, dedicated, and dogmatic that you suspect any unkind word about the show might be met with a virtual (or literal) shanking.
Scandal is one example. Here are four others.
There are people (many, many people) who love and defend "The Wire" like it was their actual first cousin. How am I so sure of this? Well, I am one of those people. I love The Wire so much that I still follow actors from the show, and get legitimately excited when I see them in Subway ads or at blogger conferences. Still not convinced? Okay. I love "The Wire" so much that I penned the following paragraph two years ago:
Season 4 of The Wire is better than sliced bread, the pyramids, Kenya Moore, the entire South American continent, the Vatican, the theory of relativity, the Old Testament, Bet Uncut, Chick-fil-A, every sport except American football and NBA basketball, you, me between the ages of 26 to 28, the entire Spring season, missionary sex, drunk missionary sex, warm socks in the winter, Black women with French accents, your mom’s fried chicken, my dad’s steak marinade, and the cotton gin. God rested on the 7th day because he needed some time to catch up with season 4 of The Wire.
…and I still mean every word of it.
A Different World
Admittedly, I wasn't a huge fan of the show while it was on. I watched it, but that was mainly due to the fact that it directly followed The Cosby Show and we didn't have cable. But, as I've grown older, I've come to realize that there's an actual 30 to 40 year old segment of the Black community who used that show as a blueprint for how they wanted to live their lives. At the center of this standom is the relationship between Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert, who, for that 30 to 40 year old segment of the Black community, were the de facto paragons of Black love until Barack and Michelle came and blew everything up.
The Real Basketball Wives of Hip-Hop
I initially didn't want to include the holy trinity of Black reality shows–-RHOA, Basketball Wives, and Love and Hip-Hop—and their various spin-offs on this list because they're not scripted. (Well, they at least market themselves as unscripted.) Plus, much of their popularity comes from people primarily interested in picking the low-hanging and snark-ready fruit hanging from their trees. Despite how intensely they're watched and followed, not too many people (openly) admit to loving these shows.
But while their "credentials" are debatable, the fact that they've embedded themselves in our culture is undeniable. And, some of the same people who won't admit to being Stans for this show will have heated (and near physical) debates over whether they're the "Shaunie" of the crew or the "Evelyn."
After watching dozens of episodes of this show—and after interacting with dozens of people who still Stan for it—I'm still not sure why it's Stanned for. It never was very funny to me, the interactions between the men and women were a little disturbing, and I could never get past Kyle's Scottish accent. Still, it managed to resonate so deeply that it was copied a couple years later (hi Friends!), and I'm willing to concede that I just missed the "Living Single is Stan-worthy" train. Oh well. At least I'll always have season four of The Wire.