This is in no way based on personal experience…
1. Introducing the topic
Let’s be real: you’re on a date. You’re bound to be nervous on some level. You probably already stumbled with a barely coherent sentence when you were asked, “so what is it you do again?” It doesn’t take much for your stress-addled mind to go to its happy place. Maybe your date’s salad greens reminded you of King Bumi’s “lettuce-leaf” joke. Maybe you hear a phone ring and you think about Steven Universe’s “full disclosure song.”
The point is, you invariably will get a look on your face at some point during the evening that makes your date cock their head to one side and go, “What is it?” When this happens, Be. Cool.
You’ve got this! You totally won’t just blurt out dialogue from your favorite Y7 program with no context, laugh at it, and then down half a glass of the house red.
Do you have a niece or young cousin that you can pretend watches the show, and just invent an inexplicably close relationship to them? Did you “catch a few episodes” of this cartoon while “flipping channels” one day before you magically lost your cable subscription? Do you have an interest in childhood education and were watching for academic purposes?
These are all fantastic excuses that your date will never see-through, and the perfect way to introduce the show!
“Well you know, I was just such a fan of Freaks and Geeks that I *had* to check out Linda Cardellini’s performance in Gravity Falls.”
2. “Yeah, it’s actually kind of interesting!”
Okay, well now that it’s been established that you have perfectly valid, adulty reasons to be watching this show, you need to have even better, adulty reasons to want to continue discussing it. Think to yourself: “why do I like this show?” Now be sure NOT TO SAY WHAT COMES TO MIND.
Do NOT talk about your trash ship that has ruined your life and created incredibly specific relationship goals that you’re already projecting onto this person.
Definitely do NOT bring up your headcanons for an entire economic system that you finally perfected so that it explains both how multiple generations of genocide survivors with no source of income can claim to rule a nation while also allowing for a court-system wherein shares of a company belonging to an escaped convict can be reverted back to their original owners without total faith being lost in the world’s coin.
Instead, focus on something that could seem compelling to another human being. The world-building is unique. The characters are incredibly well fleshed-out…“for a kid’s show.” The politics remind you of Game of Thrones back when it made sense. These are reasons that our society deems “okay” to watch something.
3. Correcting and nitpicking
No doubt whatever highly intellectual facet of the show that you chose as the reason for your viewership elicited a response of, “Oh, that does sound kind of interesting. So it’s like ____.” But I’m also quite sure in your attempt to play down your love for it, you didn’t do the very best job explaining as possible. And for that reason, when your date tells you that the Crystal Gems sound just like the Power Rangers, you have only yourself to blame.
You should let it go. It’s okay.
Yeah just let it go.
Fuck, it’s going to bother you if you don’t at least say something. I mean, did they truly not understand the symbolism of Wirt’s clarinet? You were quite clear.
Correct them. And correct them until they can either repeat back what you said with a degree of understanding, or they get this look on their face:
4. “…sometimes I write about it.”
By this point, you’ve probably had to dig out the supplemental material. Hopefully, it was vaguely innocent, like: “I actually read this interesting theory online.” However, there’s also a chance that you accidentally referenced how “the fandom” feels about a topic, or how you can’t stand all the “attack posts” about a certain character.
Either way, this was probably enough for your date to say something along the lines of, “Wow, you know a lot about this.” At which point you’ll be forced to confess to them that you have, occasionally, been known to communicate your thoughts about this show online.
Be very careful about how you approach this. Do you use Tumblr? Say, “I actually wrote a blog post on this once…just to kill some time.” Reddit? “I think I saw something about it on some internet message board. Heh-heh. I don’t know.” Did you cosplay at a con? “I almost went as Raven for Halloween.”
Just try and slowly introduce your date to the idea that a relationship with you means binge-watching this show and discussing it in bed.
5. Doggy Bag
If you’ve been following this advice to a T, then you have successfully told your date that you spend much of your free time watching and analyzing a cartoon without seeming… What’s that? They just came back from the bathroom with news that their apartment flooded/friend needs to be driven to the hospital/thesis due-date was randomly moved/stomach is killing them/brother just showed up in town/roommate let their cat out the door/appliance was left on/favorite cereal coupon is about to expire?
I am all astonishment. I thought this date was going really well. But at least this means you get to go home, eat the breadsticks you had only allowed yourself one of, and watch that one episode you just spent the last 20 minutes trying to explain.