Here’s the thing: The world is collapsing, but art is important. Television is art, on its best days, and so television is important. Writing about shows and how they make us feel and how they allow us some form of respite in a world that can feel like it’s choking the oxygen off from us is still vital.
Here’s the thing: None of this shit matters. It’s immoral to even think about anything than what’s happening in politics right now, and thinking about Wynonna Earp and Dear White People and Big Brother is absconding one’s responsibility to look reality square in the eye. Doing so just enables those who are seizing power at an unprecedented level and ensures they will end democracy as we know.
But here’s the thing: That’s probably hyperbole, and going about one’s normal routine is itself a quietly political act. Nothing says “fuck you” so much as engaging with the trivial alongside the important. This isn’t about being “distracted” so much as achieving a balance that is necessary to having any semblance of happiness. No one can or should be paying as much attention as some of us right now to every twist and turn, and it’s somewhat arrogant to think that after everything that’s happened in the brief history of the United States, THIS is the time where it all ends.
But here’s the thing: This isn’t television. This is the real world. There aren’t happy endings. There aren’t even scripts. This is messy AF because a key group of people have decided that decorum and shame aren’t enough to stop them from doing what they want, and no one who can stop them have either the energy, will, or compassion to do it. So we’ll normalize everything because that’s better than going insane when staring into the abyss, and transferring that anger into hashtags and bingewatching shows on Netflix feels like the only thing we can do. What can any of us do at this point but embrace the inevitable?
On the other hand, nothing’s inevitable, and there is always choice, even when it doesn’t seem like there is. “Not being a garbage fire of a human being” seems like the most obvious and easiest to achieve, and there’s plenty of television that shows exactly how to do that. Instruction probably shouldn’t be necessary, but reinforcement that it’s still a fucking option doesn’t hurt. When you watch the women on Jane The Virgin support one another, you can see that life has more potential than we’re allowing it to have. When you see the open-hearted yet risky approaches to life in Master Of None, you recognize that potential to be better or at least DIFFERENT still exists. This means something. It means everything.
On the other hand, being nice doesn’t seem to mean shit, and in fact signals weakness, and ends up with those who can bypass compassion getting away with everything even though the majority of people think that’s bullshit. Seeing our fictional heroes triumph in episode 13 is nice, but simply shows what doesn’t exist rather than what could, which only reinforces the futility at play in 2017. We root for our heroes to not give into darkness, but we’re also refreshing Twitter in bed and staring at everything that we cherish slipping away 140 characters at a time.
We can be better
It will never be better.
Fuck you, that’s not acceptable.
Fuck you, that’s inevitable.
We have more access to more information than at any time in human history. We can connect, we can support, we can unite.
We have more access to more noise than at any time in human history. We will argue, we will divide, we will retreat.
You can’t tell me that a television show that makes you cry or makes your heart grow three sizes isn’t important. I don’t care what the show is. It doesn’t matter if I like that show! Legit doesn’t matter. Breaking Bad and Beverly Hills, 90210 both matter if they matter to you. Year-end lists from critics don’t matter any more than Emmy nominations when it comes to assessing value in the eye of the beholder. Carrie Coon didn’t suck in The Leftovers because she didn’t get nominated for an Emmy!
You can’t tell me fiction matters when reality seems more fantastical. You can’t write anything with more twists than “every day in Washington D.C.,” and I can’t watch anything else at this point. Fiction doesn’t feel like a reflection of reality so much as a refutation of it, a state that shows what was rather than what is. There’s nothing more compelling than whatever the President tweets, and even though I don’t want to watch I can’t help it. I know it’s what he wants, and the world is going down and I’m complicit in it, but there’s no choice but to watch. It’s all I know.
It’s not TV. It’s HBO.
It’s not TV. It’s Twitter.
I will win.
I will win.
I’m still hopeful.
I am ever inevitable.
I don’t want to become you.
You already are.