Thursday, November 23, 2023

My Life as a Series


            O.K. – so we watch a lot of television. Probably too much. We use television as an hour of background for our occasional afternoon nap – so I try to pick something boring enough that we can sleep through it without missing anything. And then we watch something at night, when the day’s chores are done.


            That’s a lot. It is my job to research and select what we watch. With that in mind, I prefer to select a series, as that means I can ride along the choice for a while without having to struggle to come up with what we watch next.


            But here’s the problem. You know how some movies have a resemblance to real life? Well, watching a series can have too much resemblance.


            If it’s a series that comes on once a week, that gives us a whole week to forget who the characters are and what happened to them a week ago. So, we have conversations like: “Is that his wife or his sister?” or “I thought she was dead,” or “I thought that guy was in the other series.” The problem is compounded when we get into time-jumps, where the only clue that we’ve gone back 20 years is the character’s different hairstyle. So: “Is that his son, or is that him 20 years ago?” or “Looks like she’s not dead yet.” Sorry, but I have too many problems remembering names and what happened yesterday in my real (non-movie) life. I don’t want watching a movie to recreate how this makes me feel.


            Just this week, for example: we were shopping at a little market called Nine Bean Rows. A lady came up to me, said hello, asked how we were doing. I did not recognize her, but we chatted for a while, and she let me know that her husband was named Bill, but she did not remember our names. I told her, she mentioned she read my blog, and we vowed to find a way to get together soon. When she left, I turned to Kim and asked, “Who was that?” She said she didn’t know. We ran through people we associated with “Bill” and “Kate,” and we came up empty. We knew that we liked them and knew them, but how? So it goes. People should wear name tags with a few details about family, work, or something. (Finally, a day later, with some help from the internet, we figured out who Bill and Kate are. Good friends!)


            Which brings me to another problem. Sometimes we are watching a series, and we get to the end of a season, often with a cliff-hanger ending, and then we learn that the series has not been renewed, or it won’t continue for a year or so. Fans of Yellowstone know what I mean. But there are many others that have disappointed in the same way: Gypsy was great, until it stopped. And there is Giovanna’s Journey, but her journey was never completed. It’s especially annoying when there is another season of the series, probably somewhere in Europe, but it has not been picked up here. Sorry, but I like things wrapped up. Let’s have the big kiss at the end of a rom-com, or the bad guys arrested. Little Bird and The Necessities of Life had perfect endings – satisfying because hard-earned. Don’t leave someone alive and screaming in the trunk of a car. (See these two series if you have any interest in the treatment of indigenous people in Canada.)


            I like reasonably tidy endings in movies because that is a welcome change from real life, where stuff is often not resolved. (Here’s where I could supply examples, but I won’t, except to mention that we have not yet closed on our Stone School Condo.) Suffice it to say there are always questions about the future, for ourselves and for friends and family members. Whenever I say to myself, “Well, that’s settled,” part of me prepares for the next surprise. And no, I don’t see our inevitable deaths as “tidy endings,” though I suppose they are.


            Of course, I do sometimes manage to get my revenge by bailing out on a series, sometimes after one lame episode, sometimes only ten minutes in – leaving the characters stranded, bewildered, and wondering what was supposed to happen to them next. This is a feeling I sometimes share. They may talk quietly among themselves, before fading away.

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