What Current Television Show Would You Pledge a Loyalty Oath To?

Last week the New York Mets sent a loyalty oath to their fans, asking them to pledge their unwavering allegiance to the team despite its predictably un-predictable future. While many long-time fans of the team saw the gesture as desperate and insulting, the loyalty oath in and of itself is not a practice endemic to mediocre baseball teams.

Civil War political prisoners were released upon signing a loyalty oath to their captors. School children pledged an American loyalty oath during WWII. This mortgage company even made employees swear allegiance by promising to never remove their “Protect this House” loyalty bracelet, lest they want to lose their job.

Today we’re not asking you to pledge unconditional loyalty to your company, your favorite baseball team, or even your country. Today we ask: what current television show would you pledge a loyalty oath to? Which comedy or drama do you solemnly swear to watch every episode of until its series finale, for better or worse, ’til [death/cancellation/brilliantly planned and executed finale] do you part?

If we’re to take this seriously, there are a host of factors to plan for. Consider this: many of us would have gladly signed an oath of loyalty to The Office based on the strength of the first five seasons. Of that willing many, what percentage bailed on the show at some point between season six and the finale? The ratings indicate it would have been quite a few. Bailing is fine, as long as you’re cool with living in default and bringing shame upon your family.

The television loyalty oath is tricky ship to steer- if you had asked me to pledge loyalty to FOX’s New Girl one year ago today, I’d have gladly entered into a lock-me-up-and-throw-away-the-key pact with the young and promising sitcom. Cut to today, where episodes languish on my DVR for weeks as I diligently plow through 30 year-old episodes of Voltron: Defender of the Universe on Netflix. I’m not saying I’ve bailed on New Girl, but at this point if I had signed that oath I’d be sweatin’ that “til death do us part” noise (although confirming Damon Wayans Jr. as a series regular for season 4 certainly helps).

Many recent drama series provide excellent case studies on the risky nature of the TV loyalty oath. For every series like Breaking Bad that finished as strong as (or stronger than) it began, there are a handful of Heroes and Dexters.

This week’s return of 24 presents an interesting anomaly. If you had pledged loyalty to Jack Bauer halfway through season one, I wouldn’t have blamed you. By series’ end, 24 loyalists had endured bail-worthy encounters with predatory cats and more back-from-the-grave characters than The Walking Dead, but dammit they stuck with it until the series finale, and no one could ever take that away from them. Until they did. In this case, the 24 restart is something like New York Marathon officials moving the finish line back an extra 6 kilometers after the race had begun AND ended. Wait? There’s more race? LOYALTY OATH.

After careful consideration (and a 45 second review of my DVR list), I’ve decided there are only two current shows that I’d pledge a loyalty oath to. Based on the track record of the producers, writers, directors and cast, I can’t see how either of these shows could ever permanently let me down. I realize every current show is a misbegotten pair of water skis away from a jumped shark, but these two shows have earned my trust.

Loyalty Oath #1 – The Walking Dead

This one was easy for two reasons: I don’t have to think of pledging allegiance to The Walking Dead in hypothetical terms, because I’ve essentially fulfilled a loyalty oath to the show already. The Walking Dead has gone through extended lulls in the action and decelerated plot progression at times, which are not always inherently a bad thing, but if you trust social media (I know, I know), many people bailed during the extended Greene family farm stay. I was one of the millions who stuck it out, and it has more than paid off since.

The second reason: I want to see how it ends. Showrunners have said that we’ll never get that “pull away” shot, where we get to see how the apocalypse has affected the rest of the world, or how it all began, but I’ll be damned if I miss how it all comes to an end. The show is about the main characters, as they are in fact the “walking dead”, and I’m invested enough in their journey that I will see it through no matter where we’re taken.

Loyalty Oath #2 – The Goldbergs

My favorite show on television. The only program my wife and I make a weekly appointment to watch on the night it airs. The only comedy I trust implicitly.

My undying allegiance to The Goldbergs is no secret, but give me this moment to defend my loyalty: It’s got all of the ingredients of my favorite sitcoms of the last 30 years, with almost none of the potential drawbacks. None of the main characters can fall in love with each other and make it weird- something that hurt shows like Who’s The Boss, The Office, and Moonlighting, and conversely, something Three’s Company got right.

The Goldbergs‘ savvy employment of the “It was 1980-something…” voiceover strategy sheds the shackles of time restraints. The show could have a twelve year run, and all twelve seasons could take place in the 80s. Time is not linear in The Goldbergs, a trap that restricted shows like That ’70s Show and 24. Even though the story is set in a distinct era, the show is timeless, a trait The Goldbergs share with The Simpsons and The Wonder Years, and that’s some good company.

What current show or shows would you pledge a loyalty oath to?

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