My roommate, Rose works at a restaurant, and she works late. So, often times I am home all by my lonesome. Many of you may read books, or magazines, or the backs of cereal boxes, but I choose to while away the hours watching hour after hour of television. I've had some sort of Digital Video Recorder (DVR for those who are techno-savvy and/or nerds) for about three years now, and the fossil records have started to reflect a sea change.
I started with Frontline and Lost and The Sopranos. Then, Little People, Big World and Project Runway started. These are both fine reality television programs, but (un)fortunately the mudslide didn't stop there. The DVR (Digital Video Recorder for those of you with no memory and/or who are not nerds) has now become stockpiled with episodes of Teh Hillz and The Real World and [shudder/gurgle] A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. Am I reacting to these war-torn times, simply seeking out the easy pleasures of drunken fools hurling themselves (emotionally and, quite satisfactorily, physically) at each other in the hope that my mind will be diverted from that which is too horrible to bear: that our world is broken and melting, that we are living in the heady days of the swan song?
But, really what I think it is is that my brain has become lazy and atrophied. Why this happened I don't know, but it seems to directly correspond with when I stopped writing plays. Yeah, that's right. I used to write plays. And sometimes they weren't even awful. But, I seem to have given up and so I've just slumped down, gravy-smeared inch by inch, into the general miasma of American television wartchin'.
But, this isn't the thing that makes me sad.
What makes me sad is that some people don't realize HOW GOOD THESE SHOWS ARE. They're arch entertainment when viewed through the proper lens (one acquired through years of back-breaking couch sitting and Entertainment Weekly reading). Where else can you find the words "society" and "(self) respect" tossed around like popcorn at a particularly rambunctious showing of This Christmas? Where else do the lines between pop-art, social commentary, Milton's Paradise Lost, and fecal matter so casually blur into one another? Now, this is quite a trite argument, but some people just don't seem to be won over yet! And it's truly mind-boggling. I still watch "good" television, but it's so hard to find these days, and there are many hours to be filled. I urge you: please, please, please give these truly hideous shows a chance. They'll enrich you beyond your wildest dreams. Call it schadenfreude, call it alcoholism, or call it abject sadness, but for whatever reason, these programs really connect. Humanity is achingly beautiful. But, friends, that's two words. We need a little ache with our beauty, a little sea salt in our martyr wounds.
So, please tune in and turn off. For every lame walk outdoors, phone call with friends and loved ones, or Marquez book you read, you could be spending countless hours absorbing the Chekhovian brilliance of Beauty and the Geek. Once it's done, you can turn it off and think on the actual world. One that is filled with the kind of sadness not so easily articulated as "That bug was scary. I hear its face could eat me."
Yeah, you read that right.
Its face...could eat you.