Watching a TV series is like getting married

On Monday I sat through the latest episode of a TV show I have been watching since the first season opener and rapidly came to the conclusion that watching a story arc has a great deal of similarity to marriage.  Exactly the same, with time and effort required together with the suspension of belief, denial, maybe a few affairs on the side and ultimately in some cases, longing for it to be over.
My partner watched me typing this and gave me a playful slap for cheek, yet, as I think about it more and more, the similarities are becoming more pointed.  For those of you who cannot remember their days before wedlock, let me remind you.

At first, you get the tease and promise of a good time, all smiles and a hint of dark seduction to come. Now in human terms this is either the short dress or the snappy suit, the humorous banter, the knowing looks.  In TV land it works by having some keen-eyed editor watching 22 episodes and condensing this into a 30 second promo, full of high octane fast paced scene changes and just the hint of real enjoyment.  You’ve seen it:  Like that dark Italian guy who winked at you in the bar or that girl who smiles and lets her stockings show.  You know it’s too good to be true… but like a bees to a honey pot, you just take the lure.

So then comes the first date.  You must recall how that went, hours in the bathroom, shaving your moustache, legs and armpits, finding the right clothes and shoes, talking excitedly to friends and hoping that you are going to like them.  You take time over what to say and may even rehearse a few lines (and try to remember that the story about the ferret and your grandmother is inappropriate).  If you are a guy it’s the same:  washing your pits for the first time this month, getting last week’s pizza from under your nails and deciding that the Superman boxers with the holes in may not be the best thing to wear.  It’s the same discussion with friends, only there may be a bigger emphasis on the end of the evening as opposed to the start of the evening.  You have even remembered that the joke about the Priest, the Nun and the Donkey was funny in the bar but should be off limits

TV works the same:  for the first night they work overtime.  The budget is larger, the script is written by the best they can find (usually the creator) and they bring in the best directors and lighting cameramen available.  The dialogue is sharp, the lines have been rehearsed well and the little humorous pieces have been timed down to the last second.  Like in the real world, the show has polished and preened, the scripts worked on for hours (and the joke about the Rabbi, the Monk and the Mule was left on the cutting room floor because they want this show to be watched in Boondocks, MO)

The first night is over.  Huddled around the water-cooler or the coffee vendor, you talk about it to your friends.  The usual questions:  “did you enjoy it, what was it like, where did it go, are you going to see (him, her or the show) again?” and you even repeat that joke you heard about the Cleric, the Choirboy and Chihuahua (That was OK.  No-one in Texas got it because a Chihuahua is a Mexican breed)   Admit it.  You are hooked.  For the next few weeks you look forward to your next encounter… still making the effort, still polishing and preening, still taking time and effort, spending your limited budget on making sure the other party is happy and having a good time.  You are now in love and wedded to him, her, the show or even the Chihuahua…………………..

You are now in a serious relationship.   You stop going out with your friends, make sure you leave work early, put off the serious things like feeding the baby so the two of you can spend time together.  Some nights you even stop Facebooking and turn your cellphone off so the two of you can be alone (now that is commitment!).  But suddenly you realize that the sparkle has gone: Victoria Secret has become Wal-Mart, the Superman boxers are back, you stopped shaving your moustache or if you are a guy, that really is last week’s KFC under your toenail.  In TV land it’s the same:  the crack team of writers have been replaced by monkeys (and not the type who write Shakespeare), the director was highly regarded in Brazilian soaps and the plots now have more holes than the Superman boxers.  At first you deny it, put it down to just a phase it’s going through, but to quote a TV show…”The truth is out there”

Then you find yourself seduced.  Showtime are launching an eight week drama, lavish, big budgets from international co-producers, the best actors (i.e. cheap, British and with sophisticated accents) and every episode has been written by the same person.  It’s that guy or girl in the bar flashing his or her stocking tops again.  You can’t help yourself.  Like a moth to the flames, you are drawn in, promising that this is a one off and it will just help.  But it’s no good.  You are now looking through the TV Guide in the same way as you look in the personal ads in Craigslist.  You are still denying it, but it’s over.  The relationship has gone and you are having countless affairs with the BBC, CBS or HBO.  Unwatched episodes of your show now litter your DVR in the same way as the unanswered texts or ‘pokes’ on Facebook.

Which brings me back to Monday night.  I have watched 22 episodes of the show so far but I am now looking for a divorce lawyer.  I managed to suspend belief and accept that you really can have high-speed internet access on your laptop from an economy seat in a Russian airliner flying from Murmansk to the US, accepted that all ex-CIA agents really are tall good looking females and a disgruntled computer nerd and one solitary ex CIA agent can travel to Russia, France and back to the States (via the non stop EuroStar train from Paris to London thanks to stock footage), track down the bad guy, hack into car rental and airline personnel computers with the same, never recharged laptop AND receive international tip offs from a girlfriend on a stolen cellphone – without a data plan!  Oh, did I forget that this same computer nerd is also able to get onto the roof of a mall from the third floor stairs, disarm a toxin bomb by shooting it – a bomb that was attached to the refrigerant line and not the air intake mind you- and to top it all off, the First Lady would be able to slip her security detail and meet with some people in an abandoned warehouse that suspiciously looked like an old airforce hanger in California – whilst she was still in Washington.

No.  It’s over.  There are only two episodes left and like a lot of couples sticking it out until the kids are old enough, I’ll watch until the end, just to see what happened.  But if they order a new series, I am going to let them wear their big girl panties and Superman boxers, I don’t care if they have a whole fast food joint under their nails and really, you don’t have to bother shaving.  Showtime and HBO are flashing their stocking tops at me and there is that good looking French guy in the bar.


About cryptothinker

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