I recently stumbled across this meme:
Apart from being hilarious, it got me thinking about what franchises I would willingly get amnesia for in order to experience them again for the first time. “Going back to college” and “losing my virginity” immediately came to mind. However for the sake of argument and debate I limited them to movies, television, books, and video games. Without further ado, here are the top five franchises I would willingly inflict brain damage on myself if it meant I could experience them anew.
5. True Detective Season One
In my humble opinion, the first season of True Detective was the greatest single season of television in history. The writing was incredible, and the story was absolutely spellbinding. I invested significantly more time on Reddit messageboards trying to figure out the mystery than my own studies. During that first season, I would rewatch every single episode each week to try and pick up some tiny detail that others might have missed. Never have I been so rapt with the boring minutiae of a show. By the end of that season I had seen all eight episodes at least 8 times. Insane. While it’s unfortunate that season two was way off the mark, I don’t think that the first season lost any of its luster because of it.
The now iconic ‘Housing Projects Raid” scene in episode five is in my opinion the greatest 7 minutes in television history. It’s a 7-minute one shot of Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and a seedy acquaintance on a drug-raid-gone-wrong in a Louisiana housing project. I’ve included the clip below.
4. The Office
The Office is probably the most iconic and beloved tv comedy of all time, who’s calling card is its rewatchability. I think I’ve made it through the entire 9 season series at least 10 times. It’s unhealthy how much I watch The Office. When I’m staring at that Netflix home screen with nothing to watch, I instinctively just throw on the Office. However what’s so amazing about the show is that no matter how many times I watch a particular episode, there is always some throwaway line I missed or joke that takes on a new meaning. It truly is a show that has got better with age and familiarity.
However I think that what I find so funny about the show now I might not have found so funny when I first saw it. The Office ran from 2005-2013. I was in middle and high school for most of that time. I didn’t know shit about business and office culture and all that, and a lot of that humor went totally over my head. Now, as an adult desk jockey, I get it. I just wish that I had experienced that humor and those jokes with the perspective and experience I have now.
Skyrim, the fifth installment of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series, is an epic, open world fantasy RPG set in the mythical world of Tamriel. Its also the reason this Florida Man got brain damage. It’s a classic swords-and-spells dungeon crawler that emphasizes deep character customization options, endless loot, and a rich lore. Skyrim was released in 2011 to much critical acclaim, including the prestigious IGN Game of the Year. Although it came out over 7 years ago, development on Skyrim continues to this day. There is a robust library of user-created mods expanding upon the game even further. Bethesda actually released Skyrim VR, a VR-ported version of Skyrim for PS4, at the end of 2017, their first standalone VR title.
I am a little embarrassed how much time I have poured into Skyrim. I’ve owned the game on Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC, and between the three probably logged more that 1,000 hours of gameplay. I’ve memorized the map, which is one of the largest in video game history, and know the quests backwards and forwards (there’s an estimated 300 hours of gameplay for the main game alone, not including the four DLC packages and endless community mods). Even so, in every new playthough I’m pleasantly surprised at how I’m still discovering new things about the game.
As somewhat of an RPG aficionado, I believe that Skyrim remains the gold standard for open-world RPGs. It strikes the perfect balance of deep customization options for more hardcore gamers, and a shallow learning curve and simple gameplay mechanics that appeal to the more casual gamer. Combat is slick and simple, and the levelling and perk system is intuitive. The story remains compelling despite the robotic voice-overs and dialogue mechanics Bethesda is known for. The depth and scope of the Elder Scrolls lore rivals that of high-fantasy contemporaries like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. In short, Skyrim is a polished and perfectly executed open-world RPG set in a rich universe ripe for storytelling and exploration. I join prestigious company with Florida Man in trying to experience all that one more time.
2. Harry Potter (books)
As a kid, there was nothing more exciting than waiting in line at your local bookstore for the newest Harry Potter release and trying to read it as fast as humanly possible once you got home. I remember when the final book, the Deathly Hallows, was released, and I had to read it in one sitting because I was leaving for camp the next day. It took me about 15 hours and is probably the longest, single-sitting binge I’ve ever embarked upon.
I chose the books rather than the movies, which were amazing in their own right, because I am a purist. In general I prefer books to movies simply because I am a lore nerd and books allows for more detail and depth that a movie cannot because of time and budget constraints. This series, for many kids (myself included), also helped spark an interest in books and reading. It sounds lame as fuck but I learned that reading can actually be an exciting and emotional experience.
I’ll never forget crying my eyes out when they killed off Dumbledore (SPOILER ALERT!), or the conflicting feelings of accomplishment and sadness once I finished the most recent installment. I’ve reread the books many times, even as an adult, chasing that feeling of satisfaction and anticipation for what’s next. And with each subsequent reading and rereading, it feels like a little bit of the magic disappears. Maybe I’m old and jaded. But what I wouldn’t give to have that feeling, like it was the first time, one more time.
- Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones takes the top spot for the content I would most want to give myself brain damage to experience again for a variety of reasons. What started as an semi-obscure fantasy series written by a weird old man from New Jersey in the 90s spawned into one of the last remaining cultural monoliths in this post-Netflix era of television. Game of Thrones has been one of the only shows able to rise above the never ending content churn of the modern streaming landscape and establish itself as must-see event television. There are a million things that make Game of Thrones incredible but I point to three things that really set it apart.
First, the universe is extremely well-thought out and and seems to reimagine all of the classic high-fantasy tropes (magic, dragons, zombies) in a more pragmatic, low-fantasy kind of way. It makes these concepts accessible to wider audiences while simultaneously indulging it’s high-fantasy roots and appealing to the diehards. In other words it can capture the attention of both fantasy nerds and laymen in a way none of its predecessors have.
Game of Thrones is also not your cookie cutter, linear story. Things are messy and chaotic and just when you think you have everything figured out and let your guard down the story will blindside you. You never know what to expect because Game of Thrones turns classic storytelling on its head. They mess around with timelines.. They aren’t afraid of killing off important characters. The omniscient nature of the audience is consistently at odds with the the flow of information between characters in the story. Yet at the same time, because GRRM cares so little about the conventions and structure of the classic hero’s tale, this omniciences is what makes everything so tense and exciting. Simply put, you cannot predict what will happen next (although many butthurt nerds on the internet might disagree).
The characters in the Game of Thrones universe are also extremely flawed and human. We can all relate to the struggles of one character or another. Even the most admirable and virtuous characters have moments of weakness, and the most vile and corrupt have moments of redemption. Much like our own world, the morality of the Game of Thrones universe exists in a grey zone. There are no absolute truths about right and wrong and little distinction exists between who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’.
Game of Thrones spontaneity and disdain for traditional storytelling ‘rules’ is what makes this the top candidate for self inflicted amnesia. You have absolutely no idea what’s coming next, and the surprises both big and small were unforgettable. Unfortunately once you know they are coming, the surprises are blunted a little bit, and that initial feeling of shock and awe can never quite be relived. I would gladly spend a couple weeks in the head trauma unit if it meant I could experience the horror of the Red Wedding or the satisfaction of watching Joffrey choke to death one more time.
Lyle Morrison is a writer from Somerville and can be found @RichardStash and at 69buttsmooch.com