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June 22, 2024

How I reclaimed my sanity with H2O: Just Add Water, 24 minutes at a time

By ALICIA GUEVARA | November 9, 2021


“Wait, so how are they going to make the beam of light that stops the meteor that’s magnetically attracted to the moon pool?” my friend asks me, equal parts confused, concerned and amused.

It’s 2 a.m. and we’re sitting on the floor of my room, peering up at my computer perched precariously on my bed. Notes and scratch paper are strewn across the carpet, remnants of the homework we decided to finish another day. I can feel my tiredness beginning to weigh down my eyelids and my foot is falling asleep, but I cannot admit defeat.

We’re on the last episode of the third and final season of H2O: Just Add Water on Netflix and, in a dramatic twist, three teenage mermaids with superpowers and thick Australian accents need to save the world from a giant meteor hurtling toward Earth. Obviously, sleep must be sacrificed. Junk food must be eaten. Any prior knowledge of physics must be abandoned.

I press play on my computer, laughing and shrugging at her question. We’re five minutes into the episode and I already know: It’s perfect. It’s so bad it’s good. Evil Redhead #2 (believe it or not, there are two) is thwarted in her subplot to rob a national park. Our favorite pairing finally gets together after a whole season of cringey pining. High school graduation and an apocalyptic meteor approach. It is glorious.

Or at least, it takes my mind off my calculus homework due the next day. Or my approaching midterms and lab practicals. Or my seemingly never-ending to-do list. Or the mounting imposter syndrome gnawing away at my self-esteem. Cue my latest existential spiral.

Most of the time, it feels like I’ve been tricked, like professors have been increasing the workload so gradually that somehow, I’m suddenly two months into the semester and up to my eyeballs in work. I guess I should’ve recognized the signs: budding caffeine and sugar addictions and a carrel on C level I subconsciously label as mine. But now that I’m trapped in this tidal wave of work, it feels like I have no choice but to ride it out.

So when I discovered H2O, I was instantly hooked. There is something so refreshing about their problems. How will Cleo attend the super cool pool party without revealing she’s a mermaid? How will Emma manage the juice cafe where she works while her boss is away without revealing she’s a mermaid? How will Rikki date the resident snobby rich guy without revealing she’s a mermaid? If you’re sensing a theme, yes, the episodes really are that predictable.

But despite the cheesiness, the cliché dialogue and the at-times over-the-top acting, watching the characters deal with their problems allows me to, at least temporarily, let my own fall away. With every setback they face, every overly dramatic conflict they encounter, they always find a way to work things out by the end of the episode. If they can miraculously deflect a meteor from Earth, deal with boy drama and graduate high school, I guess I can get through the week.

Carving out time in my schedule to relax, unwind and watch lighthearted television doesn’t solve everything. Unfortunately, my calculus homework is still lying untouched on my floor. My midterm still approaches with every passing second. I still have not started studying.

But at the end of the day, we all have our problems, our insecurities and secrets we hide within ourselves. We might not be teenagers that turn into mermaids in contact with water, but we all have our own struggles, our ups and downs that in the end define us and push us to do the best we can with what we have.

So to H2O and other shows like it: thank you. I have no idea how you managed to get a 7.2 on IMDb, but you were just what I needed.

Alicia Guevara is a freshman from Chevy Chase, Md. studying Molecular and Cellular Biology.

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