Deep thoughts from Aaron Sorkin

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A few months ago, while driving back to DC from my parents house, I was listening to an Aaron Sorkin interview on a recent episode of The West Wing Weekly.  As always, Aaron charmed me, however there was one line I’ve been pondering ever since.

I’d say a very broad theme in all of the television that I’ve written is that it’s alright to be alone in a big city if you can find family at work.    (1:01)

The statement is so simple, but it resonated with me so much that I had to  replay the line multiple times before I was ready to move on.  In some ways, it made me uncomfortable.  I could spend hours digging into how this thought has impacted my decisions (or lack of decisions) over the last 5 years.   I  could use it to explain why a politics-hating girl (no longer!) fell in love with The West Wing four years ago.  I could also dig into why workplace shows can be so successful (or bomb miserably).  I could  destroy this statement arguing that it is necessary to find “family” outside of work for a truly fulfilling life.   Instead, I just want to leave it here and let you think on it.  For me, it’s a good example of how small pieces of pop culture enrich my life by forcing me to think more deeply about my own life.  Does it have an impact on you?  Is it true?  Is it painful?  Does it make you smile anyway?  Or does it simply just make you wish Aaron Sorkin hadn’t given up on television?

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Living a Teenage Dream

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Confession time:  This winter/spring, when I would come home after a long week at work and sit on the couch to catch up on  my TV — what was my most cherished item on the DVR?  Riverdale.  I’m embarrassed to admit that my favorite thing to watch starred actors all at least 5 years younger than me playing characters over 10 years younger than me.

Now just to levelset — my DVR kind of sucked this year.  There was very little on network/non-premium cable TV that really did much for me, but even so, why was it that a pretty poorly scripted teen soap made it as a favorite?  I guess you’d have to say I’m predictable.

I remember my first foray into primetime television.  And even then, when my mom suggested we start watching a “family show” on Sunday nights — it was still airing at 7 PM.  Nevertheless, upon starting 7th Heaven at age 10, I went WB and never went back.

I could spend this entire blog post confessing some of the weirder things I did during my different TV obsessions (anyone else cut out every single blurb in TV guide about their favorite show?  I didn’t think so), however, I’m more interested in the fact that my love of television about teenagers has stayed with me long past my own teenage years.   This is particularly interesting when teen television has gotten significantly worse.

Yesterday, I was listening to a Pop Culture Happy Hour episode from earlier this year that covered Riverdale.  Everyone trashed it, and I respected almost everything they said.  This made me wonder:  why then did I still adore show?  Perhaps it was the reminiscence to Dawson’s Creek.  As the podcast mentioned — so much of Riverdale called back to Dawson’s Creek’s storylines.  Perhaps it was my nostalgia for reading Archie comics on Shabbat afternoons at camp.  But I really don’t think either of those things are the driving factor.

This past weekend, I binged on the new Freeform show (I still want to call it ABC Family), Famous In Love.  It isn’t good by any means.  Whereas I at least found Riverdale compelling with some intriguing storylines (and a still very hot but old Luke Perry), this one really didn’t have it.   However, I’m going to admit — it hooked me.  And that made me wonder — why, when teen drama/soaps were so much better in my own teenage years, am I still hooked?

I am still contemplating my answer to this question, however I have one theory: drama.   In today’s world, top dramas are represented by fantastical storylines, period pieces, and lots and lots of blood.  I have never been one for action– I would much prefer a book that is all dialogue to one that has any number of pages without characters conversing.  I don’t appreciate choreographed violence (although I do recognize the skill in that acting). And while I do love the thrill of a good mystery or a crazy plot twist, I would rather watch two people talk to each other about nothing.  There are very few shows on TV that center around people talking to one another.  There are even fewer that are actually good (see– my all-time favorites).  So maybe that’s my draw to the sappy teen dramas — it’s one of few genres that still focuses on the mundane conversation.

 

 

 

Or perhaps I really just love the love triangles of 22 year old high school sophomores.

Back on the couch

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Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about my interests.  I’ve spent the last 5 years in a city I never wanted to be in and in a job I thought was temporary.  While I don’t have any intention of making specific changes any time soon, I am looking to push myself to go back to some of my hobbies (if that’s what you can call them).   Which brings me to a promise I made myself yesterday: To write more about what I watch.

I love that I love indulging in TV.  I used to be embarrassed by my TV habits and my ability to waste away an entire day binge-ing on something ridiculous.  Lately, I’ve found that it’s probably one of the few things that keeps me sane among all the stress in life. There is very little that makes me happier than disappearing into a fictional world, even if it’s been pretty miserably designed.  A majority of my life has been spent idolizing those who get to work in TV.  From my weird fascination with our local TV critic (I so miss Larry Bonko’s regular columns) to following the TCA’s religiously while stuck in Williamsburg for multiple summers — I’ve wanted to be in it.  Truthfully, my professional skill set doesn’t really align with anything you’d find in TV (Feel free to prove me wrong and send me job postings for professional technical puzzle solvers in that world), but I really do dream about it.  So, I’ve decided to revive my blog to bring some purpose to my bingeing.   So — here’s to insightful posts on mostly-bad TV.  Cheers!

 

Coming up:  My thoughts on the teen soaps of 2017 aka how Rachel can still find herself horribly entertained by 22 year olds pretending to be 16.