I recently traveled to Chicago for work and met this awesome girl who has the same job as me, but in Chicago. We’ll call her, Y. We bonded pretty quickly. Y + I were talking about TV shows we like and we both sort of agreed that we tend to watch shows where the emotions are high. And how after any sort of draining TV viewing, we have to watch an episode of Friends or something lighthearted so that we don’t get too dark.
I joked with her about the fact that my therapist pretty much told me that I shouldn’t watch Big Little Lies because mentally, maybe it wasn’t the best for me. Obviously I watched it anyway because, well, I couldn’t not. Y expressed the idea that we watch things that move us in such a big way because it gives us some type of release- an “excuse” to shed some emotions- a safer place to let out things we’re feeling. I agreed. I’ve always sort of felt that way. And I definitely gravitate toward entertainment that really makes me feel something (yes I also watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians and everything on Bravo- there’s a lot of human emotion there too OKAY).
I usually use TV to escape into different worlds and immerse myself into a reality that isn’t my own. But I almost always find myself relating to someone or some moment and connecting in an unexpected way to the people on my screen. My usual rotation of shows has actually been heavier than they normally are. Even Survivor! I turned on Survivor last week because I had experienced a rough day and wanted to just chill. And then it was the most intensely emotional episode in all of Survivor history.
On KUWTK, Kim is dealing with the aftermath of the robbery in Paris. On RHONY they’re talking about the election and I’m reliving that nightmare all over again. Girls is ending and is a whole different kind of sad. I just finished Big Little Lies. And I marathoned the S-Town podcast finishing it yesterday.
It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling more serious and sad than usual. My usual distractions from life have turned into releases for emotions I’ve been feeling- and man have I been feeling a lot. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t let myself feel things- I brush thoughts and emotions to the side for the sake of being fine (ala Ross Geller) and being productive. Only for all of this mess to build out and come out in an explosion at some point (usually in the direction of Will, I’m sorry). Like, I recently fell back into playing The Sims- I think solely to distract myself for hours on end from things I’m feeling or thinking about.
I try really hard not to think about the things that are eating away at me, but when I’m making myself emotionally vulnerable by watching intense shows where I get very invested in the people or characters involved, I can’t hide from those things. No, I may not be experiencing what they are and I may not be living out their exact story lines- but there’s something relatable there. It’s all human emotion. And it’s been forcing me to face my own feelings and thoughts.
Ultimately I think that’s a good thing. Like I said, I spend way too much time brushing things under the rug and saying I’m fine. I didn’t go looking for help and a release in television, it all just sort of came to me at a time where I think I needed it most (but didn’t know how to express that need). I’ve been spending my days off at home nesting and letting myself feel whatever it is I’m feeling. These shows have inspired me to write again- to delve into music again (building playlists, finding new music, obsessing over albums from start to finish)- to live out my life in the things I’m passionate about.
I’m not sorry that I went against my therapist well wishes and watched Big Little Lies. That show affected me in such a profound way- it has stuck with me every day since I started watching it. Yeah it was intense, but I feel like it changed me as a person (big claim, but true). But I think my therapist would be happy to know that I have been following through on one of her requests- for me to not run away from what I’m feeling and just feel it. In that moment- live it- feel it- be it.
I used to feel bad about how much I liked television. It seemed lazy of me. Intellectuals “don’t watch much TV.” Not anymore in my most recent years though. I’ve really come to realize how much good it brings into my life.
My conversation with Y about television and entertainment in general inspired me to think about all these things further. I’m thoroughly convinced she’s going to become famous one day and I’m going to feel lucky to have met her at some point.
Thanks, Y. See ya on the red carpet one day.