Every fangirl knows that feeling.
You’re watching a TV show and two characters share a look, and you know they’re going to be the next fictional couple to keep you up at night writing fanfic in your head. You’re scrolling through Tumblr, and you see a GIF of an actor, and you know that you’re going to be looking up their entire filmography on IMDb. You’re watching a movie trailer, and you know this is going to be the only movie you want to talk about for the next 6 months.
You’re watching a band perform at the GRAMMYs, and you know that you’re going to be headed down a YouTube rabbit hole of every version of that song and every staging of that choreography.
Before Sunday night, it had been a long time since I’d felt that feeling. It’s that little spark in your fangirl soul that a lifetime of bouncing from one obsession to another tells you is going to grow into a fire that’s bright and warm and all-consuming. And I’d started to genuinely worry that I’d lost the ability to feel that spark—that this year had taken away the part of me that can throw herself into a new fandom with reckless abandon, happy tears, and lots of capslock.
I feel the most like me when I’m deep in that feeling (and usually when I’m dragging other people into it with me—or enabling the ones already there), and without it, I didn’t feel like me anymore.
Who knew all it would take to bring back the best version of me was 7 guys from Korea dancing on top of a building in snazzy suits?
Hi, my name is Katie, and I’m obsessed with BTS.
I usually watch the GRAMMYs, but I’m never as devoted to them as I am to my movie and TV award shows. But this year’s show was something special. I’m not sure if I’m just starved for live music or if a lot of genuinely good music came out this last year or whatever combination of the two it was, but I loved every second of these awards. They kept me company while I finished up some really hard writing, and after I hit “Publish” on my very emotionally exhausting WandaVision post, I felt ready to enjoy the last few minutes of the show—and the performance by BTS that I knew was coming.
I’m not totally new to these guys. My friend Nikki has been fighting the good fangirl fight on their behalf for more than a year, and those of you who know (and love!) Heather like I do know that she’s been sharing their best stuff around here and at TVexamined for months. Maybe it was inevitable that I’d find my way down this rabbit hole eventually, but like I said, it felt like something inside of me was broken for a large part of this year. I wasn’t sure I was ever going to find my spark again—my bright light of fangirl enthusiasm.
But leave it to Heather to give me a great piece of advice about not just BTS but all fandoms: “You’ll find them when you need them, and there’s no need to rush or force that.”
And there I was, on Sunday night, having just finished the most raw and difficult post in the history of NGN. I didn’t know it then, but that post must have unlocked something inside of me. My heart was finally open again after months of feeling like it had closed in around itself. All I needed was something to fill that fangirl heart with joy.
And I found them.
Because I don’t live under a rock, I’d heard “Dynamite” plenty of times before and had definitely had dance parties to it in my car this summer. But I’d never seen it performed, and anyone who knows BTS knows that hearing a song and watching them perform a song are two very different experiences.
Suffice to say, I was unprepared for what I was about to experience.
My initial reaction was as follows:
Wow, that guy with the purple mic knows how to work a camera! … These dance moves are really clean! … That guy in the orange suit can MOVE … This dancing is so well done! … That jacket flip was VERY confident, and I liked it VERY much … DID THAT GUY JUST WINK?… Oh—they ALL know how to work a camera … I want to learn this choreography! … The small one’s shoulder moves are KILLING ME! … They’re having so much fun! … AM I CRYING?
And just like that, that feeling was back.
There I was, a grown-ass woman with only mic colors and suit shades to go on, but I suddenly felt like a preteen watching Backstreet Boys on TRL—giddy and bright and completely enamored with a group of guys who moved with more swag and performed with more confidence than should be humanly possible.
I’ve always been a boy band girl. It’s even been well-documented around these parts. So I’m predisposed to going “fangirl feral” when I see a group of guys dancing in unison and singing while flirting with a camera. It’s in my DNA, and no matter how old I get, it’s never going away. But the force of that feeling still managed to leave me more than a little bit breathless.
It had been too long since I’d felt that kind of immediate, instantaneous joy.
It had been too long since I’d watched a group of people clearly having the time of their lives together and somehow felt like I was having the time of my life right along with them.
It had been too long, but suddenly it was back. And it felt just as wonderful and world-changing as it always does.
In the span of a week, I went from Googling “BTS purple mic” to now knowing all their names, knowing all their roles in the group, having my own favorites (Top 2: Jimin and J-Hope), and being deeply invested in their friendships (DO NOT talk to me about Jimin and Tae or I will start crying) and their overall story as a group.
And somewhere along the way, amid the music videos and interviews and GIFs, the version of me I was so afraid I lost—the version of me that talks a mile a minute and smiles so big her face hurts and dances around her house—came back.
So much of that is because I’m not falling down this rabbit hole alone. The people who were there before NGN was even an idea—the first fandom family I found—are there with me. We get to send each other long text chains about our favorite performances, and Heather gets all of my screaming about dumplings and dance moves and boys who cannot sit in chairs, and it feels like old times.
It feels like coming home.
When you’re a fangirl, one moment can change everything.
So thanks, BTS, for giving me that moment when I was afraid one would never come my way again.
I found them when I needed them. And now I wanted to share a little extra joy for all of you who might need it too. (And yes, my three favorites are obviously the ones who cannot sit still and have to get up and dance.)
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week? (And just for fun, what was the last “rabbit hole” moment you had in a fandom?)