The exact date is lost to the mists of time after many of our earliest posts disappeared in one server migration or another, but this week marks Spunkybean’s 10th anniversary. And while a self-congratulatory retrospective probably isn’t interesting to anybody but me, I’ve put in a lot of work over the last decade and I feel like I’ve earned this indulgence.
I didn’t put Spunkybean together and at the time, I was only willing to commit to one article a week. So I can’t say much about where some of our original contributors came from or what inspired our dumb, dumb name. Seriously, I love this website with all my heart, but that name. Just try saying it out loud to another adult. It’s not good. There was even a phase where we decided that an anthropomorphic talking coffee bean was our mascot and we did an interview with another website in character. In character as a sentient bean. They’re not all great ideas, you know?
The main thing I remember about those early days is the Writers’ Strike. That strike lasted more than three months from late 2007 to early 2008, and that’s when we launched our TV website. We ran short on material pretty quickly, frankly. I feel like we maybe wrote multiple articles about talk show hosts and their strike beards. I guess my takeaway is that if you’re going to launch a website about something, make sure that thing is happening when you launch the site.
My biggest accomplishment in the early days was the first Batman Week, to honor the 2008 release of Dark Knight. We’ve done Batman Week four times now, but that first one still stands out to me. I committed to doing daily content (this was back when that would be unusual) on Batman themes. It wrapped up with my review of the movie, and I’m still proud of that. I worked a full day and then I performed stand-up in the evening. By the time the show was over, Sam and I had to head to the midnight showing. And it wasn’t even midnight, because that one sold out. It was maybe a 1 AM showing, and Dark Knight is a long movie. Once it was done, I went home, wrote my review, and posted it just in time to leave for work. I didn’t sleep at all on a weeknight, but I got that review done.
And for a couple of years there, I was doing my LOST articles the night they aired and that kept me up most of the night. Speaking of LOST, I think I’ve covered before how I got into this whole project because I was doing analysis of that show for my friends and they passed those emails around and I met people. And as a result of my later season recaps, I heard from one Larry Young, a guy I was a fan of before he ever came across our site, and now he’s not only a beloved contributor but an actual real life friend. Even if he has bad opinions about Zack Snyder movies. Through Larry I met Samantha at Kickstart and erstwhile CW DC recapper Mark. I’ve been co-writing stuff with Myndi practically since day one, and she is a good friend and awesome collaborator who is much funnier than I am. Swell people all.
As long as I’m shouting out, allow me a moment for some namedropping so I can properly honor the famous people and creators who’ve been good to us over the years. Todd Barry was the first person ever to link to Spunkybean when I reviewed his then new album. I’ve been able to interview some really cool people, including Matt Maiellaro and Jason Woliner, both of whom left me thoroughly starstruck. I also interviewed a bunch of Kickstart writers, and that was fun and interesting every single time. Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham have both been very kind to us, tweeting links to the site early on and saying nice things about our site for years. Similarly, the folks at Thrilling Adventure Hour were really supportive on social media, and I will never forget Marc Evan Jackson bragging on Twitter about his Spunky Award a few years ago. Scott Aukerman blew up my notifications a couple of time by posting Spunkybean links. There are others, including the time I squealed with glee because a writer on The Brave and the Bold complimented our site. Yeah, this is probably just gross bragging, but these people took the time to get in touch with us or post links and that means a lot to me and I’d like to thank them for being supportive.
All in all, these ten years have been kind of rad. Sure, maybe prioritizing Spunkybean over my actual job and relationships wasn’t the best idea and if I have one complaint, well, it would be nice if a decade of work had resulted in any money whatsoever, that’d be a lot better than this mess I find myself in. But you can’t have everything.
It’s been a good time to run a TV website. Probably you’ve noticed, but TV got really good. And I watched more television than I would have if I didn’t need to keep slinging that sweet ‘tent. (Which is my cool ‘breve for “content”.) That helped me find new favorites and I think it made me a more engaged viewer. I mean, it all started for me with LOST and those recaps trained me to pick up key words and use limited research time efficiently. Basically, writing about the things I watch makes me think about them more and I’m getting more out of television than I ever have. It’s exhausting and I rarely sleep, but when you get something that rewards that level of involvement, it feels so good. The Leftovers turned out to be one of the best viewing experiences of my life, and if I hadn’t been writing recaps, I wouldn’t have put enough into it.
And sometimes, when I’m writing my five hundredth weekly schedule and I am just so damn tired of trying to come up with a new joke about Survivor, my life choices can be exhausting. I’m so very tired, you see. I’ve written, no fooling, millions of words for this site. There are days when it seems like it doesn’t matter.
But here’s the thing, even after ten years, I love this weird, unprofitable website. I love finding a new show that I want to recap and then really just digging in. I love the beginning of every season of Big Brother and I love the moment when enthusiasm turns to anger and it just becomes an endurance test because that’s when the gloves come off. I love trying to figure out how best to express a crazy-ass Gotham visual or clear up obscure points of Venture Bros. continuity. And you know what? I love you.
Maybe not “love”, but you’re super cool with me. I get to interact with readers in the comments, on social media, and in person (there is a local Spunkyreader I’ve run into a couple of times and he’s a super nice guy who bought me a beer once). Sure, there are people who are just there to dogpile when I get a name wrong or that one dude who’s been hassling me for a year because Suicide Squad was bad. But then there are the folks who help with obscure references or contribute theories, or the sweet elderly lady who told me all about going to see live Thrilling Adventure Hour shows. I’ve made Twitter friends and real life friends. It’s been such a great experience, even when it sucks.
So that’s ten years down. Spunkybean has been one of the biggest things in my life and given the chance, I’d do it all again. I’m sorry this isn’t especially funny or isn’t really about TV, but this is my big weird baby who also has other parents and I just wanted to take some time to reflect. Thanks for reading – we couldn’t do it without you. Well, we pretty much did it without you for the first three years or so. It turns out, websites are hard to make and really hard to promote when you don’t know anything.
Anyway, it’s the big 1-0 and I hope I’m still here for this in another ten. Heck, by that point, they’ll probably have two more seasons of Venture Bros. done, and who’s going to recap them if don’t?