All this time in quarantine has given me time to think about my relationships - with TV characters. I mean, I’m not seeing my friends and family as much as I normally would these days. But don’t the people who we choose to spend our time with (real or fictional) have something to say about our psyche?
After all, our relationships are a reflection of ourselves. So in pursuit of some healthy self-analysis (and because I have a little extra time on my hands), I decided to take an unabashed look at the state of my relationships with my favorite TV shows.
Here are some of the things I learned.
I’m In A Toxic Relationship with Ozark
No relationship is perfect. But a good one is supposed to make you feel happy and secure overall. Signs of a toxic relationship? Feeling fearful (check), depleted (check) and distraught (double-check).
Yes, I need to be brutally honest with myself here. With its constant drama and high-stress levels, this show leaves me drained at the end of every episode. And yet I keep going back. Lured in again and again by the taught script, the brilliant acting and hopes that the Byrde family will change.
And even though I’ve often sworn that I’m never going back to that toxic show, I find myself crawling back for another miserable round.
Ozark may be filled with negativity and loads of characters you can never trust, but it has a sexy, dark allure I can’t resist. What can I say? I’m addicted and don’t see a way out.
Week after week, I ignore my own needs for something more uplifting and get sucked back in by this money-laundering, dysfunctional family unit. Always with a glass of wine in my hand to dull the pain.
Ooph, that can’t be good either.
Emily In Paris - Sorry, But I’m Still Pining for Someone Else
First let me say that I like this bright, new gem from Netflix. An adorably upbeat American in Paris attempts to wow the social media world while trying to win over her (mean/snooty/impossible) French co-workers while committing many cultural faux pas.
It's fun. The city is beautiful. The French dudes are exceptionally hot. And yet…something is missing—namely, a certain c-c-c-curly-haired blonde with an arched eyebrow and a shoe obsession.
Yes, Emily, I admit it. I’m still carrying a torch for Carrie Bradshaw, and the sex filled city on the other side of the Atlantic. What can I say?
Maybe with time I’ll learn to love you just as much. Lord knows I’m going to try. But despite the fact you came from the same creator, I have a feeling that no other show will be able to fill the Carrie shaped hole in my heart.
If you can live with someone that’s still hung up on another character, we can see where this relationship goes. But I can’t help but wonder...will I ever feel the same again?
Gilmore Girls - This May Be A Love-Hate Thing
Yes, I still watch it, okay? And since it’s constantly trending, I’m not the only one. So don’t judge my TV relationships, thank you very much.
That being said. I’m not sure I understand why I still watch this dramedy (?) that is absolutely chock-full of truly annoying characters. Sorry Stars Hollow villagers, but I need to express how I feel.
Next door neighbor, Babette, you’re loud and nosey.
Zach, you are a doofus. And you do NOT rock.
Paris, you make me want to stick a pencil in my eye.
Jess, you’re very cute and literate, but you’re a big jerk.
Michel, you’re French. I’ll leave it at that.
Kirk, um, you’re too weird to pick on.
Taylor, you are an insufferable control freak.
TJ, you are an unlikeable caricature combined with heavy-handed acting.
Mrs. Kim, give Lane a break!
Emily Gilmore, you are an elitist snob.
Mr. Gilmore, you pompous old windbag, I think you annoy me most of all.
And finally, Rory (people will hate me for saying this), but by season 7, you developed a certain brand of grouchy sarcasm that was not at all appealing.
Oh lord, I think I may have misanthropic tendencies (like Luke!). But for some reason I still LOVE this show. What gives?
Maybe it’s the cozy little town of Stars Hollow? They DO know how to celebrate a holiday. Or Lorelai who (mostly) doesn’t bug me. Or even Rory (in the early years).
And I have to admit that a show that focuses on the relationship between mother and daughter with everyone else as a side character is pretty cool.
Then again, maybe it’s just the snappy dialogue and endless stream of pop culture references that has me hooked.
I may never be able to put my finger on it exactly. But I will say this, Gilmore Girls: I will always love you (even when I kind of hate you).
Dating Around - Maybe I’m Not All Bad
I’m not saying this show is brilliant. But after my misanthropic tirade about Gilmore Girls, it does bring me a sense of relief to know I still have feelings.
This reality show gives us a voyeur’s view of one person on five different dates. And OMG, the awkward moments that it serves up are absolutely cringe-worthy. Dating is not for the faint of heart.
And yet people brave the uncomfortable silences, the disagreements, lack of chemistry and out and out weirdos they have to sit through dinner with all in the search for love and connection.
The shared Lyft rides home may be the most painful part. That’s where kisses and phone numbers are given out or denied. Even on good dates the people seem to breathe a sense of relief when it’s all over.
And after the bad ones, they stare out into space with so much sadness in their eyes it kind of breaks your heart. One guy even cried when a woman he was interested in promptly relegated him to the friend zone.
I felt so bad for the would-be Romeo that I was actually depressed after that episode.
Well, depressed but happy. Because it meant I could still empathize with people. So at least I’m not a sociopath.
Dark - My Creature of Mystery
Dark, I know we’re on a break right now. But I want you to know that it’s me, not you. Everyone loves a bit of mystery in a relationship. When things become too predictable, it’s boring and then eyes begin to wander to other shows.
And our relationship is definitely full of mystery. The problem is I don’t really understand a damn thing about you. Yes, you are totally intriguing. And you had me all through the first season of our relationship.
But in the second season, things got complicated. And in the third, they became utterly confusing. But like I said, it’s me not you. Maybe you need someone more intelligent and sophisticated to understand what you’re trying to say.
Perhaps I’m more conventional than I like to admit. But in the end, we don’t seem to have much in common. I do know that I hope you and your viewers will be very happy together. But I can’t take the mixed signals/time periods/parallel universes anymore.
Maybe a little time apart will make me see things differently and we can try again. If not, I’ll always think fondly of the good but very confusing times we had together.
Related: The Complete Guide to Disney+
Away - I Can Make Sacrifices for Other People
Sometimes we're so wrapped up in our TV relationships that we don't think about other viewers' needs, like my husband.
The amount of Hallmark romances this guy has sat through with me is something that he would never admit to his buddies. And to keep viewing time fair, sometimes you have to throw a guy a bone.
In my case, the bone (or one of them) is Away. I was genuinely interested in this show at first. It has Hillary Swank. I like Hillary Swank. She’s a good actress.
She’s also an astronaut in this series. Yay, for strong female characters!
The only problem is that this show bores the crap out of me. Can’t they just get to Mars and be wiped out by aliens already? But it’s not that kind of show.
However, it is the kind of show where I get up to brush my teeth without asking my husband to pause it for me.
But that’s okay. It tells me I’m capable of sacrifice. Not that kind of sacrifice where you leave your entire family behind in the name of science. Just the kind where you leave your own wishes aside for 45 to 50 minutes.
And sometimes that’s all it takes to keep the viewing relationship with your partner healthy.
My Name Is Sherry and I’m a Schmaltz-a-Holic
Admitting it is the first step to fixing the problem.
And when I say schmaltz, I’m talking about any series or movie that is so sickly sweet and far removed from reality (in the opposite direction from Dark) that you are entirely embarrassed to admit you watch it.
These are the shows like Sweet Magnolias. It’s about three very ladylike southern belles in an idyllic small town who love and support each other through life’s mild ups and downs. Any self-respecting sarcastic writer such as myself should gag at the description alone.
But I eat it up.
Then there’s Chesapeake Shores. It focuses on the tight-knit O-Brian clan as they work through family differences - often around a bonfire. I mean, who makes that many bonfires and eats that many s'mores?
And the amount of muffins the grandmother makes on a daily basis is enough to fill several bakeries. But do I care that it’s super fake and corny? No.
I retreat into these worlds of unreality when I’ve had a tough day. Or watched an episode of Ozark, and I often do it alone. Probably another bad sign.
Even worse? I actually have no intention of addressing the problem. Bring on what you will, world: viruses, violence and political unrest. I have a place to go in order to escape you.
Besides, reality is always waiting for me when I decide to come back. Which (at least so far) I always have.
Never Have I Ever (Liked a Coming of Age Series So Much)
That’s a lie. I like a lot of coming of age stuff. But this one I have a special affection for. A first-generation Indian girl has major cultural clashes with her mom while at the same time struggling to lose her virginity.
She’s also getting over the death of her dad. And yet it’s funny. I mean she gets attacked by a Coyote. And it’s narrated by John McEnroe, which makes it kind of avant-garde, right?
But do I need to grow up myself? To be honest, I watch a lot of teen stuff. You name the teen movie on Netflix, and I’ve seen it.
To All the Boys I Loved Before? Yes. Part II? The day it came out. The Kissing Booth? You betcha. Part II? Would not have missed it. I could go on but won’t.
The disturbing question underlying all of this is do I just want to go back to high school? Is there something I didn’t get from the experience the first time around? Or do I just want to relive my straight-A, president of the drama club glory days?
Is that why I’m living vicariously through Devi? Maybe I need to watch more documentaries. Other than Cheer.
Well, I’ve laid my Netflix-loving soul bare.
And after taking a look at my TV relationships, I realize I may require months of or even years of self-analysis to figure them out.
But let’s hope social distancing doesn’t go on for that much longer. At some point, I need to start interacting with non-fictional characters. Until then, try not to judge me.
Maybe we should just wear our favorite TV shows loud and proud and not care what anybody thinks. That’s something that Queer Eye taught me.
Hey, now there’s a healthy TV relationship!
Sharing straight up Netflix realness with you, queens. Be kind to yourselves (no matter your viewing habits)!
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