I know we have all said it at one time or another, usually after a shockingly hard day out in the trenches of the real world, that it would be great to live in a scripted TV program (this excludes reality programs clearly since they are so, well, real). All your problems are solved reasonably quickly, amenities are freely available, and are luxuriously appointed no matter your income, and you speak with witty, pithy dialogues that belies how tired/depressed/exhausted you feel.
Clearly it doesn’t hold true for all TV programs – I have no desire to pack up my bags and move to The Wire, Breaking Bad or True Blood, all brilliantly put together shows but far better to watch than be a part of I’m thinking – but there are more than enough programs where life is charmed, the bars are warm and convivial and the friends freely available.
So what would be so good about living in a TV show? How different would your life be? Here’s a few things that occurred to me on a flight back from my parents today where I was crammed like a sardine into the salubrious surrounds of economy:
Now it’s entirely possible that everyone flies business class in TV Land, but given that many shows feature middle class families with a bustling brood of kids, it’s straining the bounds of credulity, even for the fluid lifestyle parameters of the shows, to expect everyone to fly business class.
So clearly there’s some magical airline out there that flies extremely wide aircraft, with free food and drink on tap (not a budget airline to be seen!), pretty much direct to anywhere you want to fly… and usually in just the right amount of time to, so you don’t miss any important life events.
EXAMPLE: In the episode “Dude Ranch”, the extended Modern Family clan set out for a holiday in the relatively tamed wilds of Colorado, in an aircraft the size of Texas that appears to take them straight to their destination.
I want to fly on that airline. ALL THE TIME.
PARKING WHERE YOU NEED IT
With the exception of shows set in New York City, where people are occasionally shown catching the subway, most people drive everywhere in TV Land. Leaving aside the obviously deleterious environmental side effects, this leads to a headache for any scriptwriter which is how do you keep the story hum-humming along when the character is circling the block repeatedly looking for spot to park their car?
Why this is no problem at all since in every TV show I can remember, there is usually a prime parking spot right outside the store/office building/villain’s lair waiting just for you, that no one else has even thought of parking in. If you think it, it will be there it seems. It doesn’t work in the real world so I am guessing TV Land is the place to be if you want to park somewhere easily on time every time.
EXAMPLE: There are multiples but my favourite is the classic Get Smart where Max, in one of the very few flawless acts of his spying career, drives right into the spot he needs right outside, and I am talking right outside, the building where the secret phone booth entrance to CONTROL is located.
Oh to be able to park like that no matter where I was going!
ALL PROBLEMS SOLVED
It’s true that, especially in the dramas, that not all problems experienced in TV Land are solved quickly and easily. But for the most part, that’s exactly what happens. No matter how fierce the falling out, or incendiary the argument, a small amount of time later the characters have usually worked it out, restored the relationship, if not back to what it was, then close enough to be workable, and closure, of the kind dreamt of by psychology majors the world over, has been obtained.
It’s all neat, linear, and not interrupted by relapses back into acrimony unless of course that serves the plot in which case let the hostilities begin anew. But generally arguments are over and done with in no time flat – if you’re lucky enough to be in a sitcom, so quickly you barely register that they have happened -and everyone moves on with the rest of their lives, relational harmony restored.
EXAMPLE: The flawed denizens of this year’s hit comedy New Girl are a perfect case in point. In the episode “Control”, Schmidt is encouraged to drop and relax by a meddling Jess who ignores Nick and Winston’s pleas that this way lies chaos. Naturally Schmidt relaxes to the point of being coma-like, the efficient running of the apartment is thrown into total disarray, and everyone gets out of sorts, once again, with each other.
But quicker than you can say “O.C.D.”, Jess convinces Schmidt to revert to his old control-freak ways, everyone makes up and all is well. No lingering bitterness, unhappiness or poor housemate relationships.
I could totally live with these guys. Totally.
Do you want to live beyond your means yet not look even remotely like the purse strings are straining to meet the fiscally impossible manner in which you are living? Do you wish you had an apartment that would cost a king’s ransom to rent while you all live on incomes that couldn’t possibly get you anything better than a cramped one bedroom apartment for five people in a poor neighbourhood?
Of course you do but the only place to get this is TV Land, and that’s why I would be more than happy to sign a lease in pretty much any apartment block in any town that had theatres, cinemas, great delis and friends scattered handily all through the neighbourhood. In other words, the TV-version of New York City.
Unlike normal New York where people are daily show horned into their small yet stylish Manhattan apartments, TV Land New York’s abodes are roomy, airy and save for the occasional dead body (a hazard of moving into Law & Order, or CSI: New York), full of friendly, if quirky neighbours.
EXAMPLE: Friends of course. All of the gang either had itinerant work (Joey, Phoebe), or worked in jobs (Monica, Ross, Chandler and Rachel) that while no doubt corporate and well paid weren’t well paid enough to afford the insanely large, funky, and designer shabby chic apartments.
I cared not because these people were so fun and flawed and so good at simultaneously stumbling through, and winning at life, that you didn’t begrudge them the opulent digs that living in TV Land affords them.
So if anyone in a TV show anywhere needs a reasonably well paid, well-behaved, emotionally well-adjusted housemate, give me a call. I will move in to your luxurious apartment in no time flat with no effort at all, no boxes packed or unpacked and no sign of stress on my weekly budget.
EVERY WORD SPOKEN IS CLEVER
I like to think I am an enormously witty guy who has a well thought out, beautifully worded answer for every situation, a retort for every insult, a jaunty riposte for every opinion expressed to me. But the truth is that these singularly inspired lines of dialogue always seem to pop unbidden into my mind hours after they are needed, and they are never as timely or concisely worded as the conversational exchanges of my TV show based friends.
What I need to do is hangout with my TV friends more. No matter the hour of the day, or the season, or their emotional state, every word TV characters utter is gold, perfect balances of nuance, insight, syllables and grammar, and they are met with equally capable conversational nuggets. They can get to the bottom of every issue, reason their way through every confounding issue, and are so emotionally aware, they’re almost god-like.
I would like to be a walking dictionary with great teeth, and the emotional skills and self awareness of a Hindu master.
EXAMPLE: Marshall, the gay teenage son of titular character Tara and her long-suffering husband Max in the series United States of Tara, has the sort of conversations as a teenager I wish I was having as a man who’s creeping further beyond 40 that he is comfortable with. He, and his love Lionel, don’t always make the best choices, being too young to know better much of the time, but the conversations they have about life display a wisdom and understanding that is the envy of almost everyone, I’m sure.
I am sure if I was in a show as clever as this one, that I would soak up their ability to speak with inspired elocution at the drop of a hat, and dazzle everyone I know.
THE INTERNET IS FREAKISHLY FAST (AND MAKES WEIRD SOUNDS)
As I sit in my bedroom waiting for the internet to bring up my blog pages, struggling for every pixel it draws forth from the cyber ether, I wonder why my reality-bound internet connection doesn’t fly like an eagle in a hurry. I mean, you only have to watch episodes of almost every TV show going to see internet connections that move like greased lightning, display exactly the page needed, and present it all in a form that is immediately usable and understandable.
This is especially evident in police procedurals where it appears niche-dwelling nerds have spent every waking hour constructing sites that group odd things together like “Chinese restaurants in Manhattan with red doors, and an owner called Al” and “Women kidnapped off the street while wearing yellow rain jackets and walking their pet Shih Tzus” and give the heroes of our favourite TV shows instant access to vital and/or pertinent information.
EXAMPLE: If you’re going to make the most of fantasy speed internet then you need to make sure you move into a police procedural, especially one like CSI: New York or Criminal Minds where they like to sit around trying to deduce what’s going on, rather than using good old police work to track down the villains. I suspect their rate of capture of the nefarious and the lowdown would be much lower if their miraculous use of Google didn’t yield the exact answers they needed when they needed them.
Mean while back in the world, I keep trying to massage my search engine with every combination of words I can think of till I get an answer that is kind of what I need…
JOIN THE DOTS IN NANOSECONDS
In TV Land, everyone, except for clueless sitcom characters who for plot purposes miss the most obvious romantic signals, is able to gather together insanely large complex amounts of information, see a distinct pattern (as if lit by neon floodlights) and act accordingly, usually in a way that makes things better for all concerned (except the baddie or n’er do well who by some act of TV law is always found out).
It doesn’t always hold true. In shows like Once Upon a Time, the forward momentum of the show rests on our protagonist, Emma (aka She Who Will Lift the Curse) only seeing a little bit here and there otherwise the show will be over in two or three episodes. Even so, as she is still able to piece together the most amazingly disparate pieces of information in ways I can, and most of the human race, can only dream about.
It is especially helpful in these situations that conversations in TV Land always contain confessionals from the pivotal characters, or long winded explanations that today’s ADHD generation simply wouldn’t have time for, or wouldn’t be silly enough to divulge even if they could tear their bleary eyes away from Twitter for a second.
EXAMPLE: This is an awesome show and compulsive viewing for me, but it still doth amuse me so that the hero of the story, Nick Grimm meets just the right people at just the right time who happily (or sometimes at the less pleasant pointy end of a Wessen-killing Grimm weapon) tell him all they know, which he then quickly amasses intone a cohesive picture of the case at hand.
I would love that ability to happen across all the right people and get them to tell me what I need to know. But then instead of losing all the sheets of paper I had scribbled my notes down on (because I wanted to leave them in a safe place), if I lived in Grimm, I would construct a picture of the situation at hand so comprehensive that people would stand around in admiration.
I would also have some kickass weapons which would also be totally cool.
* So what have I missed? What would lure you to live in TV Land? Or better still, why might you not want to?