Adventure in Back to Who I Was

In January a friend approached me about running auditions for a show his studio was having for Valentine’s Day. By the time Valentine’s Day rolled around we had a completely different show, a completely different band, and a completely different cast. I was directing, organizing, and acting as well. But by the end of it I also had 6 amazing friends supporting me and participating. I had a band that makes me cry pretty much every time I hear them. I had the support of a community. All in all, I had a success. A big success. I had something I’m proud of, which is new for me. You can read more about it here, just know that Matt and Brian could not have given an opportunity like this to a more appreciative human.
simon and simonLately, my life has sort of been a disgusting state of flux, but something about this show sparked something in me again, and I decided I couldn’t let it die again. To the surprise, I’m sure, of many of my college professors this month I hosted my first Shakespeare reading. Nothing elaborate. Just 12 people sitting around my living room drinking wine and beer and soda, eating cheese and reading through The Twelfth Night.

It was perfect, and it filled my head with so many new and exciting ideas. I’d forgotten all about how my heart races when a group of people who have little or no connection to each other come together for one purpose. It’s why I love theatre. It’s why I love collaborative art. It doesn’t have to be friends, but by the end of it, it’s hard not to feel even the smallest connection to the other people involved. They too just experienced the same things you did, produced the same product you did, and are now going through the same successes and failures. It’s a binding thing, and it’s beautiful.

For now, it’ll stay simple and living room bound, but that doesn’t change the value of it for my heart and my head.

Maybe some times regress is better than it sounds.

Adventure in Speaking Up

A little over a week ago a friend came over to interview me for his podcast. I can’t deny this was an odd experience. I do not find myself interesting enough to be interviewed by anyone for any reason. In the process he asked me some pretty good and hard questions. Questions about things I haven’t told many people. Things that will be available for anyone to hear starting tomorrow. Because maybe it’s time for me to start talking about it, or at least stop hiding it or feeling like everything about me is a lie because I can’t be honest about this one thing. So tomorrow you can hear it. Tomorrow I have to be okay with knowing that people I love are going to know, and people I barely know are going to know. People who have hurt me are going to know.

If tomorrow you find yourself wanting to hear it, know that you can. Know that it scares the shit out of me, but you can hear it. You can hear it here.

And if you are someone who has to respond to it, to shut me down or give false pity or who has genuine questions, that’s okay too. And I’m going to work on being okay with that. Please, be patient with me. Please, be gracious. And might I just recommend doing that with everyone you meet. It’s a hard world.

For a preview.
https://soundcloud.com/guerrilla-bio/episode-035-hayley-johnson-preview

Unrelated, I went to Chicago this weekend.

I went to the Art Institute when it opened and alone, which meant I got to spend about 20 minutes in a room filled with Van Gogh paintings all by myself. No one was there. Which also means I cried openly in a room alone. I was transfixed. I could not look away from his eyes. The man could have painted himself anyway he wanted to, but he chose to convey every single ounce of pain he had in him. I looked into his eyes, and he looked into mine. And centuries apart we had a moment.hayley 5 hayley 6

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But then I couldn’t stop staring at people’s eyes. Seeking out similar pains. No one carried quite the same sincere hurt.hayley 8hayley 7hayley 15

I kept expecting her to move. She was so flawlessly realistic. I couldn’t handle it.hayley 13hayley 14hayley 16

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Oh, and it was my birthday.
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And my friends are perfect. Far better than I deserve.

Adventure in “Non-Parent”

I’m 27, approaching 28, and usually just rounding up to 30 if someone asks. This means that many of my friends, particularly from my highly (rather closed-mindedly) conservative high school are already married and have children. Many of them have more than one. Which means most of my social media sightings of them, since actual sightings are so rare, are pictures of their children or even more common, and increasingly so, links to listicles of all of the ways people without children will never understand life until they have children. “13 things non-parents should never say to parents.” “89 ways to prove you aren’t a parent.” “962 times neanderthals tried to ‘do me a favor’ and ‘babysit’ my children (though I call it proximal nurturing).” They go on and on. Moreover, it all also comes with lots of responses to my “grotesque feminism” with “well, when you’re a parent you’ll understand” or “as a parent…”

So here it is. My. Rant.

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Hey parents. Ya know what you should never say to a “non-parent?” NON-PARENT! It takes a village. If I love you, I love your children. And no your child did not crawl out of my vagina (I’m not a parent, and the way I’m treated, I assume, that’s what you think I think happens), but I have prayed for them. I have in many cases watched them while you were out.

And, for the record, giving birth doesn’t make you a better woman. If one more Christian woman throws in my face, that God’s will for my life won’t be fulfilled until I push a baby out my hooha, I’m going to remove my uterus. Personally. First of all, how is it YOU know God’s will for my life? So many of you?! I’m learning it day by day, but you’ve known this whole time?!??! And if God’s will for my life is just to reproduce, then why did he make it exponentially harder for me than the average woman, before I even get married? And why would he give me such a passion for all of the children already born who live without homes?

There are so many ways to be a parent, and it has only so little to do with giving birth. And there’s so much more to being a woman that has nothing to do with giving birth. It strikes me as odd that so many evangelical Christian women think the greatest think a woman can do with her life is give birth, but that’s a very evolutionary way of thinking about things, isn’t it? Your lot in life is to reproduce? And maybe for some it is. Understand, I’m not saying there’s something wrong with wanting to be a mom. For wanting to give birth to your own biological children. There isn’t. But please, stop imposing that idea on every woman you interact with. Please, stop reducing all women to your ideals, and moreover, holding other women to them. We aren’t all going to be mother’s at 23. And we aren’t all incomplete until we are mothers. And not having children doesn’t make women inherently stupid when it comes to children. And having children doesn’t make you suddenly more intelligent than the other women around. Nor does it make you better. So please, stop treating us that way. Today.

Adventure in Ch-ch-changes and Not

No. No this isn’t well-thought out or cohesive. But right now, neither am I.

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My absence probably suggested I didn’t survive the summer. I didn’t think I would. Turns out surrounding myself with consistent things helped a lot. Turns out the temperatures not trying to roast me out of living helped a lot. I don’t know that I accomplished anything this summer, but I kept my heart and mind so busy. That did help. That kept me from letting my weaker brain bits take over and destroy my soul, like they usually do come summer. I don’t even know that I really slept this summer. I mean, obviously, I did, but I never really drowned in fatigue as in the past.

But now my love and friend Autumn is in full force, why he’s nearly gone now, and I’m getting weary. Before this started happening I found a therapist, as a preventative measure. This will continue to prove to be an excellent choice.

I’ve been at my current job for over a year now. With a wash of pride and shame I admit that this is the longest I’ve ever held down a job. I love what I’m doing. I love that mostly I just plow through paperwork and my fingers fly across keys as Stephen Fry or Jim Dale read Harry Potter to me. I love that my department understands my heart. I love that they’re becoming my friends.

Soon I’ll be moving to a new apartment still in town, but I look forward to the change. The space. The peace.

And yet, my mind and heart are pretty constantly plagued with rape culture and how to deal with and respond to it. It’s a very heavily discussed topic right now, I’m sure you noticed. And I have so many thoughts, and I assure you I’m working on compiling them, but for now it’s all just breaking my heart and filling me with a troublesome rage. My hands feel so tied. So very tied.

Last month I got to celebrate the union of two beautiful people with so many people I love. I don’t know if it’s the nature of Autumn in my heart, but I find myself grossly nostalgic. And while I’m terribly not, I feel very alone. College does this terrible thing to people. It surrounds you with all of these people that you just sort of have to be friends with or you have no friends. You live exclusively with them for four years, and then you go away. They go away. They all move to the same city, and you stay behind. And you feel this hand wrapped around your heart wishing you could be so near to them. It’s pulling you to them, but to what end? to have someone familiar? someone who knows your past? someone who knows that that voice isn’t weird, it’s normal? Because you’ve finally found people again, people who love and accept you no matter what, but there are so many gaps you have to fill in because they weren’t with you for four intensive years of development and growth.

Adulthood is stupid.

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Adventure in Lists, Day 6

Here is another set of two days’ lists. Again another throw-away list and one I actually more carefully considered

Top Ten Favorite Superpowers

We’re going to start off by noting things that people like Peter Petrelli and Rogue carry around are stupid. If I could just absorb anyone’s ability, then I’m not special. I’m a parasite.

10. Super-strength/Super-speed
This feels like it would only be convenient for being unnecessarily impressive or for life-threatening situations. I assume that I can control it, so I don’t smash a ton of pickle jars or anything. So unless someone is trapped under a car, or I need to hold up a building for reasons, I’m not sold. And speed just seems mostly useless. I can get to you way quick? Great, but I imagine I’d still get tired like I do now.

9. Flight
Flight is sort of overrated I think. I mean, in theory it’s nice, but I assume I don’t have super strength, so I can’t bring other people with me. I am still bound by atmosphere and air pressure changes. So it’s convenient for getting from a to b, but mostly it’s just a little faster

8. Healing/Rapid-cellular Regeneration
This seems better to me than being invincible. Invincibility sort of takes away some of the parts that still make me human, so I’d prefer to still be able to feel pain and then be able to come back from that. Also, if it’s possible that my power can somehow benefit more people, so much the better.

7. Precognition
My brain tells me I would like this because I like to be able to prepare for all circumstances, but odds are I’d end up hating it. Unless, I’m able to control when I do or do not get to take on visions. Otherwise, I’m going to be pretty mad it made it this high on the list.

6. Omni-linguism/Polyglotism
This just feels practical. To naturally be able to understand and speak all languages.

5. Teleportation
This one plays to my laziness, but it would also just be good to be able to see the people I love whenever I want. That would be so nice. Not that I don’t value the time spent alone or with one or more close friends, but to get to immediately be with people. That’d be wonderful.

4. Telekinesis
I’ll be honest. This sounds great because I’m a very lazy person. To be able to reach for something across the room and have it in my hand. Yes, please.

3. Telepathy
For communication only. I think I’d hate every moment I could read another person’s uncontrolled thoughts. I think they’d constantly break my heart, but to be able to communicate with someone silently in an instant. That sounds great

2. Waterbreathing
Again, assuming pressure holds, but still to be able to be underwater for an indefinite amount of time, not by holding my breath but maintaining it. That would be ideal. I’d never leave the water, though I assume I must as some point. I would think that my skin would still absorb water as well, and that I would be susceptible to at the very least a severe form of water log, if not drowning.

1. Muscle Mimicry
Honestly, and to me this isn’t like absorbing powers. It’s the ability to see something done and capable of doing it. I would say this doesn’t apply to superpowers. That it would only be things ordinary people could do, but to be able to acquire any skill would be amazing. To be able to see a gymnast and then replicate a routine or paint or dance. There are so many things I’ll never be able to do, but some times when I see people do things my brain convinces me I can. I can’t. I want to.

I won’t take the time to justify all of these. There are a lot of opinions out there, I’m sure. I’ll just add a quick note to a few, but probably just Harry Potter

Top Ten Favorite Children’s Books

10. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

9. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

8. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

7. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Surprised this isn’t nearer to number 1? Surprised this one and not other ones? Not nearer the top because there are things that speak to my heart more frequently, better, and longer. And why this one? Because this is the one that brings you in, and this is the one, in my opinion, that maintains itself as a children’s book. After this one they become adolescent lit.

5. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

4. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

3. Matilda by Roald Dahl

2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

1. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Adventure in Lists, Day 5

Here we go. I’ll try to be brief.

Top Ten Episodes of Gilmore Girls.

10. Cinnamon’s Wake s1ep5
This episode is the first time Stars Hallow really comes together for one purpose, and in a truly Stars Hallow way they come together to mourn the death of a cat. And it is beautiful.

9. We’ve Got Magic to Do s6ep5
Rory pulls off something Emily doubts she can do and TOTALLY sticks it to the the Huntzbergers.

8. Girls in Bikinis, Boys Doin’ the Twist s4ep17
Rory and Paris go on spring break and almost go nuts with their peers. They go home early. Obviously.

7. Will You Be My Lorelai Gilmore? S7ep16
Everyone together to celebrate Lane, Zach, and the twins. Everyone working together to make it happen. Plus. Perfect.

6. They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They? s3ep7
Sad for reasons, but ultimately it becomes an amazing thing. Even if it’s a miracle Kirk wins again.

5. You Jump, I Jump, Jack s5ep7
The only time I sort of like Logan, and it’s mostly because I love secret societies.

4. Luke Can See Her Face/Last Week Fights, This Week Tights s4ep20/21
Luke loves Lorelai. LUKE LOVES LORELAI. Liz is married. Jess is back.

3. The Lorelais’ First Day at Yale s4ep2
Owwww owowowowoooo!! Because everyone still wants her mommy on the first night at school.

2. The Bracebridge Dinner/Raincoats and Recipes s2ep10/s4ep22
Because they’re essentially the same episode. But the whole town. Back again. Coming together to just enjoy things.

1. Bon Voyage s7ep22
No marriage. No grand life’s gonna be great. Just a village sending out the child they raised. Working together one last time to love as they love.

Adventure in Lists, Day 4

My apologies. Yesterday, I was busy doing not this, so I must admit I neglected my list. I made up for it today though by doing two lists.

So first the important one. This one has been a long time coming. This one is essential.

Every summer since the Summer of Fox Mulder I watch X-Files. This year I made Jared and Rachel, and some times Dan, watch with me. We’re dragging ass right now, but I think friendship is almost more important. Almost.

Top ten episodes of X-Files:

10. Triangle (s6e3)
I love it because Scully is, like Topanga in the 50s, all snarky and sassy because it’s the 40s. Time travel somehow makes tv women more outspoken than they are in the present. It doesn’t make sense. Plus. Lone Gunmen. Plus Mulder hates Nazis. Just. I like it. Ok?

9. Three of a Kind (s6ep20)/Jump the Shark (s9ep15)

Ok. I’m one of those people who watched The Lone Gunmen.

Three of a Kind. Drugged Scully is a goof. A GOOF.
Jump the Shark is important to me because it’s the final love to the boys.

8. The Goldberg Variation (s7ep6)

I love this one because all this guy wants is to win exactly the right amount of money just to help one boy.

7. Drive (s6ep2)

Bryan Cranston. K? Bryan Cranston in a car with Fox Mulder. The whole episode. You’re welcome.

6. Dreamland/Dreamland II (s6ep4/5)

Outside of the magic of a rock and lizard existing in the exact same space and time, Mulder switching places with Michael McKean, smarmy, smarmy Michael McKean. I love it.

5. How the Ghosts Stole Christmas (s6ep6)

Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner as ghosts trying to convince Mulder and Scully to kill each other. Good stuff.

4. Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (s4ep7)

This back story is so a part of my brain that some times I think this man is culpable for real things.

3. Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (s3ep4)

This story is so melancholy and still so light-hearted. It’s how I feel most days, and I love that this so perfectly reflects my mood.

2. The Unnatural (s6ep19)

I know this is Duchovny’s baby, and that it hardly holds to character development, but I love it. I love the interactions. I love that it hardly even touches on Mulder and Scully. I love the final scene. I love the rice cream. I love it.

1. The Field Where I Died (s5ep5)

This episode. I want this to be how it works. There are people in my life who I think maybe this is how it works. I love it, and it exhausts me.

Honorable mentions:
Syzygy (s3ep13)
Field Trip (s6ep21)
First Person Shooter (s7ep13)
Chigna (s5ep10)
All Souls (s5ep17)
The Post-Modern Prometheus (s5ep5)

And now for something completely different.

Top Ten Fictional Bears:
10. Yogi Bear
9. Grumpy Bear (don’t tell my mom I watched Care Bears)
8. Rupert
7. Gummi Bears
6. Paddington Bear
5. Mrs. Emily Bear (Fozzie’s mom)
4. Baloo (Jungle Book and TaleSpin)
3. The Berenstain Bears
2. Fozzie Bear
1. Winnie-the-Pooh

Adventure in Lists, Day 3

This will face some contention. This will not be well-received.

My top ten favorite episodes of Buffy.

10. Selfless (season 7 episode 5)

“I don’t talk to people much. I mean, I talk to them, but they don’t talk to me, except to say that, ‘your questions are irksome,’ and, ‘perhaps you should take your furs and your literal interpretations to the other side of the river.'”

(There’s going to be a staggering number of episodes rep seasons 6 and 7. It surprised me too.)

I love this episode because it gives us so many pieces of Anya. It fills in holes, but doesn’t answer every question. If anything, it makes me hurt more for Anya than it does make me love her more. (Though it does that too)

9. Halloween (season 2 episode 6)

“They don’t know who they are, everyone’s turned into a monster, it’s a whole big thing. How are you?”

Halloween is important because it’s the turning point. Halloween is the episode that I have to urge people to get to. It’s the game-changer. Halloween is when the show becomes good and not nearly as campy.

8. Conversations with Dead People (season 7 episode 7)

“Of course I’m scared. Last time we were here, 33.3 bar percent of us were flayed alive.”

For some reason episodes where people talk to dead people really touch my soul. It happens in an episode of Scrubs too, and I just overlook the fact that it’s Brendan Frasier. I think it speaks to something in us that still pines for those we’ve lost, even if we aren’t talking to someone we knew.

7. The Gift (season 5 episode 22)

“Blood is life, lack-brain. Why do you think we eat it? It’s what keeps you going. Makes you warm. Makes you hard. Makes you other than dead.”

The intended finality. The sacrifice. The brokenness across the board. Obviously this episode is powerful, but I think this moment is one of the most.
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6. A New Man (season 4 episode 12)

“You know what gets me? This is what gets me. Twenty years I’ve been fighting demons. Maggie Walsh and her nancy ninja boys come in; six months later, the demons are pissing themselves with fear. They never even noticed me.”

Honestly, there just might not be enough Giles-centric stories. In the wake of losing his job and his slayer going away to college he also gets turned into a demon by that dumb Ethan Rayne. Giles’ reliance on Spike is a huge draw for this episode, and him goofily terrorizing Professor Walsh. More that, please.

5. Normal Again (season 6 episode 17)

Buffy: I was only there a couple of weeks. I stopped talking about it so they let me go. And eventually, my parents just…forgot.
Willow: God. That’s horrible.
Buffy: What if I never left? What if I’m still in that clinic?

Some times brains break. Some times brains are forced into breaking. No matter how it happens, it’s always horrifying, even if you are the slayer.

4. Grave (season 6 episode 22)

“Is this the master plan? You’re gonna stop me by telling me you love me?”

Sue me. I love a good, overwhelming story of pure friendship. Sure, Will and Xander have had their moments, but ultimately they remain best friends. Even when Willow goes completely wiggy and seemingly over the line.

3. Band Candy (season 3 episode 6)

“Screw you. I want candy.”

Because teenage Giles. Because for some reason Ethan Rayne is in three of these episodes. Guess I like his monsters of the week.

2. Hush (season 4 episode 10)

“Can’t even shout, can’t even cry
The gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They need to take seven and they might take yours
Can’t call to mom, Can’t say a word
You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.”

Outside of Doug Jones being amazing and the Gentlemen being horrifying. (Out horrifying the Silence, Doctor Who) the genius of a silent episode.

1. The Body (season 5 episode 16)

“I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s- There’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And-and Xander’s crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

Mostly. That quote is why, but then look at the fact that all underscoring is gone. You’re stuck, YOU, with your own thoughts and ambient noise, just like the cast. It’s brutal and hard and perfect.

Honorable mentions:
Gingerbread (season 3 episode 11) this one almost made the cut, because of the power of persuasion.

Once More with Feeling (season 6 episode 7) mostly, I feel like I have to have it on my list, and while I love it I hate social obligation more.

Restless (season 4 episode 22) seasons 4 is sort of a wash of worth it gets too heavy in places it shouldn’t. But I love this episode for just being silly. Not entirely, but it’s not a real threat and the cheese.

Adventure in Lists, Day 2

Today, Jared asked me what my song of the “summah” was this year. Music affects him a lot more than it affects me. Truthfully, music really affects most anyone more than it affects me. I have to be in exactly the right place for music to be affecting. Mostly, I listen to music because I have to cover my brain, to try and drown out the circus in my head. The acrobats stabbing the dancing bear. The dancing bear pretending it can juggle. The ringmaster selling waffles to small children. Music doesn’t shut it off. Music only covers it up a little. Music works hard to make it all a little quieter, especially if I’m by myself. And, if I’m super honest, most of the music I listen to I listen to because I can sing along. It’s show tunes. I listen almost exclusively to show tunes, and part of me still had a misguided belief I might be able to sing and I might be able to act. It’s a struggle, and it’s annoying to non-theatre people. It’s probably annoying to theatre people too. It’s been a very long time since I was last in a car filled with theatre people. I don’t know if we all still pick parts in La Vie Boheme.
Here’s the best I can offer for this. These may not be the most upbeat songs, but it’s important to remember that summer is not my favorite time of the year. They may not even reflect my life this summer. They’re just the songs I know I listened to the most.

Someone Else by Wild Child
This song came in my ears this spring, but it still hasn’t left. It sort of reflects my feelings of summer. This whole album does. It sounds so upbeat, but the story is hard and dark and painful.

Nicest Thing by Kate Nash
Kate Nash has been my jam all year. She’s silly when I need to be. She’s hard when I am. She’s heavy and light. And she helped this summer.

Better than Before from Next to Normal
Next to Normal is going to come up a few times. It gets my brain. Sadly.

Someone to Fall Back on by Jason Robert Brown
Ok, ok. Admittedly, I chose this video for nerdy reasons, but so much of the time this is all I feel I’m good for. It echoed through me all summer, and it may continue to.

Brothers by Penny and Sparrow
The beginning of summer started pretty dark in my heart, and a good friend offered this song to me at exactly the right moment. I offer to you now.

Secrets by Mary Lambert
This one, this one is actually on the radio, which sort of makes me feel like I might be a real person. I’m not. Rachel still had to bring it to my attention. But pretend I found it. Ok?

My Moon by Mary Lambert
And while we’re on the topic of Mary Lambert.

Who’s Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I from Next to Normal
It’s back. I said it would be.

Passenger Seat by Death Cab for Cutie
Sentiment has actually made this a song of summer for nearly ten years now.

Firewood by Regina Spektor
The heart beats in three just like a waltz.

Beautifully by Jay Brannan
Because some times feelings are crushing. Ya know?

Perfect for You from Next to Normal
Last one I swear.

Alone by Heart
Because you can’t ever go wrong with Heart.

Adventure in Lists

Over the course of 26 months my dear friend Brett Jenkins-Braun has challenged our friend Erica Anderson-Senter and I to join her in 26 30-Day Challenges. For the month of September it’s 30 Solid Days of Lists. I was going to explore my first list with my list of lists I’d be making, but I love lists too much. So here we go. List one. Is TOO COMPLICATED!! So probably several different lists for this one list topic.
Favorite TV shows. Top ten TV shows? Best sci-fi/supernatural shows? Best dramas? Guys! I could do lists of types of TV shows I like. That’s. I have a problem. Ok.
I have to do them in no order at all or I’ll die.
My favorite shows first, the ones u watch time and time again. Habitually. ritualistically:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
X-Files
Gilmore Girls
30 Rock
Freaks and Geeks
Firefly
Black Books
Doctor Who
The Cosby Show
Dawson’s Creek

It’s actually a pretty terrible first list. I won’t apologize for that.