University of Richmond tried to take away Harry Potter Weekend. Not on my damn watch.
When I look at University of Richmond’s channel guide to find out what channel Freeform is, I expect the mother-freaking truth, not some skewed reality that lies to my face and ruins a perfectly good weekend. Allow me to explain.
Several times a year, the television channel Freeform blesses its viewers with 72 hours of entertainment in its purest form – Harry Potter Weekend. Usually beginning on a Friday afternoon, the channel presents back-to-back showings that span the series. My freshman, sophomore and junior year at Richmond, I’d turn to these marathons for lazy mornings, rowdy evenings and everything in between.
However, senior year, tragedy struck in the form of an advertisement for skin-firming cream. For whatever reason (technical difficulties, conspiracy within the school’s information services, what be it), when I tried to tune to the annual back-to-school Harry Potter Weekend in September, there was something wrong with the channel. My reaction was the same as yours – what the actual hell.
It began on September 3, 2016, a Saturday morning when the thought of leaving my bed was far from pleasant. I was, however, willing to make the trek downstairs, knowing I could cozy up on my couch with my best friends – Harry, Ron and Hermione. I roused myself from bed, threw on a fuzzy robe, fried up a couple eggs and turned to channel 68 for one of J.K. Rowling’s pure-gold masterpieces.
Despite this channel being listed on the University of Richmond channel guide as ABC Family, the former title for Freeform, I was faced with a half-hour-long skin cream ad that most certainly was not “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Cue stage one of grief: denial.
I kept watching the ad, learning a little too much about Crepe Erase’s “Breakthrough Body Treatment,” but eventually I had to come to terms with reality. This was not an ordinary Freeform commercial break; it was a goddamn calamity. I asked around and learned that several friends across campus were having the same problem.
Stage two: anger. Why do bad things happen to good people?! I was hurt. I had planned out a weekend of wands, wizards and a glass or two of butterbeer, only to have my world turned upside down.
Which brings me to stage three: bargaining. Despite my better judgment, I held out hope that if I tried be a better person, the HP gods would bless me and fix the problem by the next Harry Potter Weekend in November. That glimmer of hope led me to channel 68 again, but it was unfortunately dulled by a confusing combination of vacuum cleaner and workout equipment ads that promptly dumped me into stage four: depression.
Fast forward to February 2, 2017 – the start of another Harry Potter Weekend. The easy route would be succumbing to the fifth stage of grief and accepting my Harry-Potter-less reality. I wasn’t ready to give up yet though.
Knowing that channel 68 couldn’t magically become Freeform with a simple transfiguration spell, I did what every logical, diehard Harry Potter fan would do; I sought help with an email to the university’s telecom and media support department. But after digging up an email address from the bowels of the university’s website, my hopes of a response were not high.
I proceeded to check my inbox every few minutes anyway, posting a screenshot of the email to my Instagram followers to pass the time. Comments and likes on my photo brought me to realize how widespread this problem was. Not one of the thousands of students connected to University of Richmond cable could tune into Freeform. Even friends from other schools were outraged at our inaccess. In the photo’s comments, peers, friends and colleagues applauded me for “fighting the good fight.”
To my surprise, a couple days later I actually received a response. I was rescued from the horror of infomercials by an angel in disguise: Marge Musial, a support service representative for telecom and multimedia support services (TMSS). In her first email, Marge said, “I need to know more details.” I elaborated that channel 68 was listed as ABC Family, but in reality it was a bottomless pit of despair (and vacuum cleaners).
To my astonishment, Marge replied a few days later that the problem was fixed, and channel 68 was once again Freeform. When I asked if there was a reason the problem had occurred, Marge said, “Not really, sometimes that happens!” That’s right. Thanks to yours truly, you can once again watch all your favorites — Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters and, of course, HarryFreakingPotter Weekend.
I don’t know if it’s more concerning that this error occurred on the one channel we all like best, or that it went on for at least five months before anyone alerted the authorities, but for now, all is well. In the words of the late Albus Dumbledore, “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
Harry may be “The Boy Who Lived,” but I’m “The Girl Who Saved Harry Potter Weekend.”
You’re welcome, Spiders.