It’s Easy to Dream. It’s Hard to Do.

FAME IS FOR DOERS

Image by AMERICAN ARTIST BEN MURPHY, on Flickr

I watch a lot of TV. It’s time to admit it. Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m all modern and innovative and “above it all” (ohmigod, how obnoxious) because we don’t have cable or an actual television, and we just watch Hulu and Netflix on our MacBook Pros. Soooo progressive, right?

As it turns out, you don’t need cable to watch a billion hours of TV. Netflix and Hulu work just fine for that. And I’m like an addict. Once I get on a show, it’s like I can’t get enough. I can’t watch enough. I need to see what happens next. I don’t care that it’s midnight and I need more sleep than a hibernating bear—I NEED TO SEE IT!

Netflix is actually worse in this way. Case in point: on Netflix, you CAN watch 4 old episodes Grey’s Anatomy in one sitting, because they’re all there, just waiting for you. They even prompt you to click the “Next episode” button like it’s the most natural thing in the world. I wish they would get rid of that button and just put up a quick screen saying, “Who are we kidding? You’re not going anywhere. Just sit down while we play the next one.” Just so we can all be honest.

TV Shows We Used To Watch - 1955 Television advertising

Photo by brizzle born and bred, on Flickr

At least the cable company controls your consumption. They give you just a little at a time. They give you commercials so you can go pee or brush your teeth and stuff like that. They give you the opportunity for a little dignity.

(Story detour: one time when we actually had cable, we decided that we wanted to cancel it. Cable companies are NOT cool with this move. They think it’s weird. Plus, they like your money. So I called and said, “I want to cancel my cable service.” and the lady said, “How about we give you three months free?” and I said, “Well, okay…not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth, lady.” At the end of the three months I called back again to cancel it and they offered me another great deal. They’re like drug dealers, I tell you. Drug dealers with a call center. So finally, I just said, “I want to cancel my cable service because the TV is sucking my soul out.” to which the lady said, “Right away ma’am.” and we were done. Which proves once again, crazy works.)

ANYWAY, so I’ve been serially watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. We watched the first two seasons a few years ago, then just never picked it up again. But the first 7 seasons (seven!) are on Netflix, so, you know…I kinda watched many, many episodes in a row.

Now, if you don’t like the show, just shush for a second, okay? I just want to say that the writing is brilliant (brilliant!). Sure, there’s the occasional unbelievable response or plot hole—some unconvincing element that likely arose from talent leaving or needing time off or something—but by and large they deliver on every. episode.

What I love about the show is that it always has a theme, it always weaves little life lessons. It deals in fears and struggles. Grey’s Anatomy finds all of those intimate moments where we keep our words silent for fear of facing them, and it intrudes upon them. It unearths the mess.

But it also looks for beauty among the dying, diseased, and broken. The hospital has to be the perfect metaphor for our lives—lives in constant states of repair, remission and relapse. Lives without a known ending. Lives full of mystery and defeat and hope. It’s the perfect metaphor and the writers of Grey’s are freaking nailing it.

As I watch episode, after episode, after episode of this cursedly good show, I find myself dreaming…I want to write those words. I want to write the words that inspire thought and introspection. I want to write words that remind us all of our humanity and of our connection. Words that remind us that grace can be as battered and bruised and defeated as a dying man, but it can still fight its way back to life. I’m a writer, dammit, and I want to write those words.

But in order to write those words, or any words, I’ve got to get my fingers on the keyboard. I’ve got to force myself to get something on the page. I’ve got to force myself to churn the work out. I’ve got to grab the creative fairies by the toe as they flutter through my mind at inopportune times, and scribble their thoughts down on notecards and napkins and post-its. And then I’ve got to be a freaking adult and make something of them. It’s easy to dream. It’s hard to do. I need to do some doing.

‘Weeds’ Induced Depression

Spoiler alert: I’m going to talk about the show, Weeds, produced by Showtime (or possibly Satan). And I’m not going to try to hide any details, so if you have your Tevo or DVR or Netflix queue or whatever all stocked up with the first two seasons of Weeds, a) you should stop reading this and b) you should also not watch any of those shows. Why? Because of…

Weeds Induced Depression!! (run for your lives!)

The cast of Weeds during Season 2, Left to Rig...

Don't let the smiles and flowers fool you…this show is sadsville. Image via wikipedia.

This show is DEE-pressing. I should know, because I watched exactly twelve episodes in rapid succession before I decided OH MY GOD IT’S LIKE BATTERY ACID FOR THE SOUL. (Side note: I just discovered that IMDb calls it a comedy! What?! Have they lost their minds?! Anyway…)

Here’s the rundown:

Weeds is a show about a suburban mom who, after her husband suddenly dies, decides that the best way to maintain the standard of living that she and her two teenage sons are used to is to start selling weed. It stars Mary Louise Parker, and I think she’s the one that tricked me in to watching so many freaking episodes even while my heart was bending into a permanent frowney face shape. But Ms. Parker is just so danged adorable and I couldn’t stop looking at her face. Even when she’s being terrible I kinda like her. But that’s the problem with Weeds: everyone is terrible all the time.

I mean, sure, there’s the drug dealers. But you kinda expect them to be terrible because they have to lie and cheat and threaten people with death to make a living, so they lost their nice-people skills a while back. But does everyone in the entire freaking town need to have ash and oily resin where their hearts used to be? Apparently the writers of this dreadful thing think the answer is yes. For your review, here is a partial list of the characters who are a-holes:

  • Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker), mother and drug dealer—the protagonist.
  • Doug Wilson, the city councilman
  • Celia, local mother, president of the PTA and future councilwoman
  • Andy Botwin, the brother-in-law/uncle
  • Peter Scottson, a DEA agent
  • Yael Hoffman, the director of the local rabbinical school
  • Silas Botwin, Nancy’s oldest child
  • Shane Botwin, Nancy’s youngest son
  • Isabelle Hodes, Celia’s daughter

Just look at that list! Town council members; mothers; law enforcement officials; the director of a religious school; the PROTAGONIST; and, last but not least, children. Yes, the children are a-holes. They’re just terrible, awful little buggers that make me fear for the future of the world. To watch this show is to expose yourself to continual and unrelenting disappointment in the portrayal of humans. Every character on the show, no matter how innocuous or even benevolent he/she may seem, is a secret agent of scary, sad things. This is what snuck up on me, eventually dragging me into the dreaded Weeds induced depression.

It took me a while to recognize what was happening. I’d watch, you know, three episodes in a row, then go for a walk. I just felt kinda bummed out, but that happens from time to time no matter who you are, so I didn’t think much of it. Then I started looking at people like, “I wonder what terrible thing they did before they got here.” Or I’d think, “That guy’s probably cheating on his wife or murdering baby seals or eating puppies for dinner or something.” A lingering disappointment and doubt had begun to hover around me like the dust pile around Pig-Pen. I mean, if children, mothers and nice Jewish ladies are actually dark black holes where goodness can’t survive, what hope do we have as a society? None. That’s how much.

Shortly after the DEA agent that was dating the drug dealer got murdered in the driveway by an Armenian gang after said DEA agent found out the drug dealer wasn’t in love with her, I realized that I was tailoring my hope for the future of the world based on a horrible television show (albeit one starring a very adorable woman) and somehow that didn’t seem prudent. So I decided to not watch that show anymore. Yep, that sounds like a better option.

Once again, the new year approaches. It’s tempting to try to come up with some life-changing resolution that will make me feel like a super human (like a mix of Michelle Obama, Ray Kurzweil and Nataly Dawn), but I think I’ll do something reasonable. I shall resolve not to watch any shows that make me think  the nice lady buying milk in front of me in the store is probably also selling meth. It’s a good start.

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