I found out the other day that The CW celebrated its 10th anniversary which also meant that The WB (and UPN, but this post isn’t about that right now) officially went off air that day. Although a network going off air might not mean a lot for some, but for many growing up in the 90’s and early 00’s it meant a lot to many a young TV fan. I remember the networks mascot, Michigan J. Frog dancing around my screen when prime time was about to start. When shows that would shape my early adolescence such as; Dawson’s Creek, Roswell, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Felicity, Everwood and Smallville were going to begin it’s latest episode and I was ready to settle in for the night.
At age 18, I watched my friend, The WB sign off for the last time. The network aired the pilots of some of their most memorable shows that helped shape the network and my youth for the last time as a network. I remember feeling emotional, a lump formed in my throat, it was the last time I would see an old friend and I was heart broken. The CW would eventually fill a small void that The WB left but my world was never the same. Watching The WB was a nightly thing. I met many a friend on message boards and AOL chat rooms discussing our favorite WB shows and when you’re a teenager with not a lot of friends this meant a lot.
Before the nerd revolution, people like me were ostracized and ridiculed. We were weird for being fans, for knowing everything about a character or actors, shipping couples wasn’t in pop culture vernacular, fan fiction wasn’t cool, and spending hours upon hours watching or re-watching a show made you a loser, not someone everyone can chat with at the water cooler.
The WB and its many shows I loved opened the flood gates that lead me right into the hot and cold world of fandom. One of my longest relationships and a tumultuous one that. Roswell was my first fandom. I would run to the Fan Forum message boards every day on the hunt for spoilers, talking about my favorite ship. I’d cruise E! Online and Ask Ausiello when he was still on TV Guide. I’d rush to my computer on Mondays to engage in a spoiler chat with Wanda (or as you know her now, Kristin) about my favorite ships. I called my friend during commercial breaks of Charmed and Dawson’s Creek because there were no live pause buttons back then.
The WB and its shows helped me find peace in a depression I thought I would never over come. My friends were online, my friends were characters on shows. I related to everyone I watched. There weren’t a lot of networks that catered to the teenage audience and if they did have teen shows they were silly and after school specials. The WB took a chance on thinking that their audience was young, but smart, and they were right.
As much as we think the world owes 90210 for the evolution of the teenage drama, it just as much as owes Dawson’s Creek. When Dawson’s Creek came out with its sharp wit and SAT vocabulary dialogue, it because the thing to watch. I was young, really young, but I watched the drama unfold and while I did that I learned some big words to boot, because it proved educational and one way or anything, I identified, as did many teens with the characters.
I look at this network as an old friend. Yes, it exists in the heart of The CW, but the effect it had on me as a kid and how it helped shape me is completely unique to us mid 80’s and late 80’s babies. It gave us all the teen drama we didn’t want in our life and offered us insights to friendships some of us may have not ever had. A lot of who I am today and my tastes were shaped by The WB, you can almost say it was a third parent in my life and even though a few of the shows went on to be apart of The CW and some of the actors moved on to become part of award winning projects, I will always hang on to the memories.
So cheers to you, Michigan J. Frog and The WB, you’re a face I’ll always remember.