As part of my 25th anniversary celebration for
Friday the 13th: The Series, I thought it
would be good to explain why this show
is so important to me.
I am not writing this to whine or elicit sympathy. I merely wish to put into perspective why I bonded with this show. I am in a much better place in my life now than I was 25 years ago. Really!
The show premiered in the Fall of 1987, when I had just entered my junior year of high school. My experience there was not good and it coincided with major home issues, involving a bitter family war zone and my sister's mental problems, and it all culminated in my parents divorce and my younger brother moving out with my father.
Now, I had some friends in elementary school and middle school, but after I entered high school, things changed. I had a cousin I was close to, but she didn't stay in school long. In my junior year, my brother entered as a freshman. We were close, but I knew he had a good group of his own friends and I didn't want to ostracize him from them and put him into the same near-solitude I had entered, so I kept my distance. For four years, I was a loner there, save for one friend from middle school who remained a friend throughout high school, but who, like my brother, also had her own friends.
Those four years I spent a lot of time alone, even though I was surrounded by hundreds of other teenagers. I just never fit in with any group. I sat at lunch alone, never eating, just reading, writing or doing homework. In any free time, I tried to just disappear into the masses so as to not bring attention to myself. Having other kids become aware of me invariably led to bullying. Back then, I justified others mocking me as my problem, since they were all 'normal'. It was just normal for them to point out my weirdness, and I just had to live with it and get through those long four years.
Loneliness is never fun. I am glad for my younger brother and my one friend, and my dog, for they helped me get through those years more than they realize. But, as I said, I ended up spending a lot of time alone. In the Fall of 87, I was laying in bed late one Saturday night, staying up for the premiere of this new show that had intrigued me, Friday the 13th: The Series.
I had no clue what to expect, but I assumed we would see Jason Voorhees in some form. Remember, there was no internet then to give us every bit of news and each plot point before the show saw the light of day. Back then you mostly had to wait until you actually watched the show.
What we got instead of Jason was the story of three people, strangers to each other, who were forced to live together and put their lives on the line each week. Evil had been unleashed on the world and they knew that if they didn't do all they could to stop it, no one else would.
Over the first two years, these characters grew, matured and formed a small family of their own, just the three of them. And I tuned in each and every week, vicariously living their adventures with them. I know, this may sound silly or vapid or even pathetic, but back then, it meant so much to me to have this show to look forward to at the end of every week. The long days of hiding in plain sight at high school were made bearable knowing I could visit Curious Goods and see Ryan, Micki and Jack on Saturday night.
Obviously, this connection helped me to bond with a short-lived, syndicated show in a way that might seem strange to others. But, there it is. These three people were my small group of friends, apart from any people or place I knew or dealt with in my real life. They were a safe haven that I cherished.
With the start of the show's third season, the show's dynamic changed with the loss of Ryan and the introduction of Johnny. This major change paralleled the changes happening in my life. I had graduated in June and was now working the graveyard shift. I wasn't able to catch the show every week and I felt a distance forming. At the end of that year, the show was cancelled. These friends weren't there every weekend. But, surprising to me, I began to make friends with some of the people I worked with. People who liked me for me.
Life went on, but I never lost the affection I felt for this show. To this day, watching an episode brings me back to a time in my life when reality wasn't great, but for one hour a week, a small black-and-white television transported me to happier place, and I will be forever grateful.