In defense of TV shows

I love television. The logic then follows that I love Netflix. And I do. I spend hours — I mean hours — watching and re-watching TV shows (because let’s be honest most of the movie choices are crap). I consider that time well spent.

But we live in a world where not everyone is so enlightened. There exist humans that enjoy other, non-television activies — like physical activity sustained over long periods of time. That’s okay. Not for those poor unfortunate souls of course, but I guess you can’t miss what you don’t know. Somehow they go on. And yet for some of these people it’s not enough to just dislike television; no, they have to speak out against it.

Now, up to this point most of what I’ve said is meant to be taken with some level of sarcasm. But this next part I mean seriously: I hate when people tell me “it’s just television.”

Do you know what makes something “good television”? Of course not. There’s no formula, road map, blue print. One good show can’t just be replicated a few years later and still stay good. Do you think just any show about nothing would succeed? No. Seinfeld was special. It’s the writing, the acting, the story telling, the casting. All of those components make you, the viewer, invest. Not just your time, though certainly we will give that, but your emotions. Good TV makes you feel feels.

Take The Office. If you ever want to cry for an hour straight, watch the final two episodes of this show. Recently, I did this — for a third time. During one of the previous two occasions I was confronted by someone who asked me (as I was mid-sob): “Ali, it’s just a show. Why are you crying?” They were dumbfounded that a TV show could elicit such an emotional response.

But how could it not? I was given nine seasons of this show. And I consumed, voraciously, all nine seasons of this show. Were all of them amazing? Not really. The Robert California years were a little sub-par for me, but all of those years and episodes and Jim-pranks and cringe-worthy Michael Scott moments bred for me a deeper connection with the characters. And that’s how it’s supposed to happen.

A different perspective: You go to dinner with a friend every Wednesday night at 8:00pm. That person makes you laugh, that person lets you in on their life, they tell you their secrets, you feel their vulnerabilities and relish their triumphs. You feel connected to them. One day they decide to move away. They can’t go to dinner anymore. Don’t you feel sad? Don’t think ‘no’ just because you know this a TV metaphor. Really consider this.

I’m not crazy. Of course I know that Pam and Jim aren’t real or that Mindy Kaling isn’t my friend (but if you want to hang out, girl, I’m down). But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel connected to these people through their characters. And it’s not just The Office.

The first show I really cried at was Boy Meets World on one of the few, but still too many, times that Corey and Topanga broke up. I felt a great deal of sadness when we saw the ultimate fate of Walter White and I felt a similar level of justice when we saw how Jesse’s story ended. I’ve been experiencing a serious amount of anxiety as Trueblood moves ever-closer to it’s meeting with The True Death.

So yes, I’m crying over a TV show. And yes, you can take that negative tone elsewhere if you have a problem with that.

Getting by with a little help from old friends

Specifically one old friend. Ms. Emily Dingersen was kind enough to create my lovely new header for me! I love it and everyone should give her an e-round of applause.

Look for more of her graphic design work in our upcoming issue of Sweet Lemon Magazine! Out verrrrrrrry soon (July 1!).

As if anyone needs more reasons to love Justin Timberlake…here he takes 5 shots of tequila

As usual, thank you Buzzfeed.

As if anyone needs more reasons to love Justin Timberlake…here he takes 5 shots of tequila

Happy Twenty-11!

Well, another one bites the dust! And as I look back, I always have trouble labeling years to be completely good or completely bad. It wasn’t always that way, though…for instance, I’ve always felt it safe to say that the better half of 2008 didn’t really go my way, but if I finished semi-strong can I still say it was a “Bad Year”? It’s a collection. And so, when I think on my collection from 2010, I can’t help but think of what seemed to have defined it: a constant movement, this rolling like a rock (with intense speed!) type of image as I made my way across the world and back again. January I started in New York, a few days later New Orleans, Spring Break in our own little “Southern Riviera,” back to New Orleans, back to New York, and then it got interesting. Hawaii, Paris, then Aix, Munich, Aix, Barcelona, Aix, Paris, Aix, Milan, Florence, Rome, Aix, Prague, Aix, Amsterdam, Aix, Paris, HOME – all in time to finish 2010 just where I started. Now for those of you who think “was it truly necessary to list everywhere you’ve been, in the order in which you did it?” and I say, well, yes. And I did it for a reason: not only to show how and why I will be so happy to spend more than 4 days in one place for a little while but also to show, life is cyclic. Or at least 2010 was for me. A year of travel and experiences, and I end up back in my own little bed. Not bad, eh? I’d say: good year.

But wait: what’s this I hear? 2010 was termed bad by the Judging Powers that be? They also say 2011 should be “promising”? Hmm…OK I have to ask, how does one tell if a year looks to be promising? And better yet, is the year 2010 put it at a distinct disadvantage because we spent some of its last minutes breaking the Guinness Book of World Records record in, erm, largest group of people fist pumping at one time? If so, then I have to say, we should be giving 2010 the benefit of the doubt. Sure, one could cite recession, joblessness, Wikileaks, ongoing wars, the economic tumble of countries like Greece and Ireland, and the death of Michael Jackson as negative contributing factors to the recently gone 2010, but we have to take some responsibility too, don’t we? Afterall, we helped Mike the Situation make over 5 million this year alone. We put the Vampire Diaries on the air (thank you, CW). We let Jodie Picoult continue writing novels (c’mon guys, The Pact? Really?) We almost let the Harry Potter Movies end! (Good call on splitting it between 2010/11 – that ensures 2011 some pre-determined “good” ratings) So when we think of “how bad” 2010 was, we have to consider that a lot of it was kiiiinda our own doing. As for the other stuff, I guess we can blame the cosmic gods that control the quality of our years – or Canada.

Happy New Year, everyone!

The Real World: Aix-En-Provence

I’ve always said that I would never want to be the last roommate to leave the house on The Real World. And so when I realized yesterday that I would be one of the last AUCP’ers to leave Aix this weekend (only to return and be toute seule aussi!) I suddenly began to sympathize with Snooki and all the last ones who came before her. Regardless, being last has made me start thinking about goodbyes. And a hard, sad, tear-filled goodbye it will be. But I can’t help but think its not all bad. That pit in your stomach means you’re saying goodbye to something that was worth having, worth cultivating, worth smiling and crying at at the same time. Now, coming from me, these sentences must be shocking. Afterall, I’m the person who truly believes that emotional separation from other members of the human race is the best way to avoid sadness – and trust me, goodbyes are made easier.

But I’ve come to see that this belief is, well, dumb. I adore the people I’ve met here. In fact, I owe most of them huge thank you’s for opening my eyes to the world around me. I’ve (re)learned that you can, and should, let people in and that being dark and twisty can also be coupled with lots of bright moments filled with laughter and smiles. And from this lesson, I’ve gained the most wonderful souvenirs of the people who have been here in Aix with me. I’ll even go so far as to say this: I don’t HATE christmas and I have emotions. God that was difficult. But I now find myself in the same place as when I got here: eyes teary, next to my desk, sweatpants on, bags half-packed, squinting at a screen writing this entry bc (after 4 months of trying) I still have no internet in my little bedroom corner of Provence. Save for this time, I’m crying for a different reason, my desk has had many nights of studying upon it, and my eyes have seen the most amazing 4 months that I never even imagined.

So I may be leaving…but only for a short while! And with this weather, maybe not at all. If European blizzards have nothing to say about it, I’m off to Paris tomorrow, Switzerland til Friday and then Aix on Monday! And while it’ll be weird to not call Audrey or Laura or Jamie or anyone else to boire une verre on the Cours with me, I’ll have my family here and I guess some French kid to keep me company 🙂