I think the reason I stuck with it through its rough first arc (after taking a break) was because I was nostalgic for the Wyrmwick & Dethklok TGWTG D&D games. I don’t know who else even remembers those, but they were put up on Blip back in like 2009, mostly as a podcast basically with some minor maps and some fanart (a prelude to what I’d come to expect from Critical Role weekly). They were good (at least I thought so, except for some unpleasant jokes), until they trailed off due to scheduling and personal conflicts and health issues.
I used to listen to those in high school a lot. I was a lonely kid in a rural area and I wanted to play D&D and had no D&D friends. My first DM had left my school and I didn’t pursue running games myself.
The TGWTG D&D stuff thankfully gave me a tolerance for like, the standard "bunch of white guys playing D&D" stuff that makes me tell a lot of people to skip the first arc of CR if they aren't grabbed by it initially. I love the show but I had the background to tolerate the 1st arc. A lot of people don’t. Which is understandable.