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The Unashamed Joy Of Being An Adult Fangirl

Jennifer McShane hails the return of a nineties cult TV show – and the joyous fandom that came with it. But why is it considered odd to embrace fandom as an adult? 


I have an obsessive personality. If something in a film, book or a song resonates with me, I’ll latch onto it with an iron grip, and it’ll consume me. I’ll want to write about it, think about it, heck; I’ll even dream about it. Perhaps this is why few would be surprised with my omission that, at nearly thirty, I’m a complete fangirl. The word ‘fangirl’ officially describes someone who is obsessed with ‘comics, film, music, or science fiction.’ Film and music are my ‘Things.’ The Things I’ll consume, comb through or think a lot about in my spare time. And though it sounds weird, this is something that affects a lot of people – they just tend to be younger teens. Fangirling to this extent as an adult isn’t quite socially accepted the same way.

So amidst a sea of tweens, Justin Bieber fans and mass judgement, calling yourself a devoted fan of anything as an adult doesn’t exactly up your street cred. Because it goes beyond simply admiring someone as a fan. You join multiple forums and Facebook groups, hold meetups with strangers that you connect with only because they too, are pondering what actually goes on in the Red Room in Twin Peaks. You can almost see your (non-obsessed) friends and family members scratching their heads. “But…isn’t it just a TV show?” Get out of my life; I’m disowning you.

It’s this TV show that started my fangirling afresh in 2017. Having missed all the Who Killed Laura Palmer bantering when it first aired in the early nineties (I was four), Twin Peaks: The Return aired a couple of weeks ago, twenty-five years after fans never thought it’d see the light of day again. By day, I try my best to be an actual adult – working, drinking too much coffee and trying to function in the world – but by night, I’m commenting, posting and pondering theories of the dream-like world created by Mark Frost and David Lynch.

There’s nothing quite like the joy that comes with feeling, even amongst a sea of people you’ve never met in real life, that you belong somewhere.

It’s a new experience for me. Because I came late to the show, I don’t have the nostalgia that a lot have, having watched the original series two decades ago. But that’s one of the most potent things about fandom: the nostalgia. Go on to any group, and it’s a huge topic of conversation; the feelings and memories evoked and associated with the show, film or song in question. Because you’re instantly transported to a time when you had (a little more) youth on your side, and things were much simpler. The world didn’t seem like such a scary place and gathering around the TV set, midweek, with as many doughnuts, cups of coffee and cherry pie as you could get your hands on was what people did. And long before the Reddit threads for Westworld, people did the same thing for Twin Peaks – they came together, online, united in their love for the show. With the guessing came original fandom; the theories, stories and newfound friendships that were instrumental in keeping the show alive decades after it went off the air.

But the fact of the matter is, it isn’t seen as ‘the norm’ to be such a serious fanatic as an adult, something that saddens me. I’m unashamed in my devotion for the show and Lynch’s work. But I see the bemused smiles of my work colleagues – God bless them – when I happily ramble on about glass boxes and BOB and the fact that the soundtrack alone is worth watching the show for and they don’t quite get it.

Maybe it’s because they are too busy immersed in the real world  – and I favour my own where Clinton became President and Trump died from a mystery illness – but it’s never bothered me. Because I feel they are missing out on something.  There’s nothing quite like the joy that comes with feeling,  even amongst a sea of people you’ve never met in real life, that you belong somewhere. And that you’re a part of something, even a piece of art, that brings so much joy to so many people. And boy, has the new series given so many so much joy. Shows like Twin Peaks do this. They inspire something; encourage you to dream and think outside the box. To think of venturing to somewhere far away, maybe making a life change you never thought you would or see the place you never thought you’d see.  Escapism in the purest, best sense of the word.

What could honestly be more wonderful than that?  Because in a world struck by so much grief and tragedy, we need all the joy we can get. And if you get your daily dose of happiness scrolling through a Facebook feed littered with so many intelligent theories that you no longer see updates from your family and friends (trust me, it makes sense if you’ve joined quite a few of these groups), what’s to be ashamed of? It’s simple, it makes you feel good and encourages you to dream.

And for that alone, I’ll happily be a fangirl forevermore.

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