I’ve been going through a really emotional time lately, but I can’t complain too much, because I absolutely brought it on myself.
Last week, after 3 months of watching it on my commute, I finally reached the end of the hit TV program “Weeds.”
I hear your groans. I know that I really should have seen Weeds already, or accepted the fact that I never would. I’m sorry. These are the life choices I made. I have been faithfully skipping over Weeds as an option of what to watch for years at this point. I was almost tired of the show just from disregarding the Netflix thumbnail so many times. But there came a moment a solid quarter of a year ago where I found myself clicking on it. I don’t know what motivated me. Probably the devil.
Feeling generally shellshocked and frankly dehydrated from watching Mary Louise Parker suck down iced coffee from a plastic straw over a dramatically accelerated 8 years I have recently emerged from an aggressive fog of THC-laced entertainment.
My specific flavor of anxiety disorder hugely effects the way I watch entertainment. I find myself watching TV and movies through the lens of how anxious I would be if I were in the situation I’m seeing unfold in front of me. Weeds was not created with me in mind.
I marvel over the anxiety I would have in the situations that are written for the characters. The first dude (of many)(spoiler alert) who dies because of Mary Louise Parker 3 episodes into the series is tossed aside like, welp, what’re you gonna do, people die. I think of how if I caused someone’s death, even accidentally, I would immediately curl up in the fetal position on my bed and suffer a ginormous heart attack, or just rush to the police station to throw myself in jail. Mary Louise just slurps down her coffee and shrugs it off.
The way the characters handle money on the show is upsetting. They are regularly broke, owing thousands of dollars to other drug dealers and random people they’re pissed off. Even when they don’t have gangsters on their tail, they are always one bad deal away from needing to sell their house and live… where exactly? M.L., why isn’t this freaking you out as much as it should?
Even when the stakes are way lower I still feel so much anxiety watching any character dealing with predicaments. I see someone on TV being lightly chastised by her boss and I full-body cringe. I project like no one has ever projected ever before. I wonder if she’s worried about getting fired. Is she super distracted, and won’t sleep tonight because her boss gave her slightly negative feedback? Because god knows that would be me.
But time and again, people seem to just… not mind. The character is always in the office kitchen the next morning joking around with her boss like nothing had happened. Like their honor hadn’t been stripped unceremoniously just hours before by The Man. Where was the weird shame that would hang around for a few days? Where was the staring at the ceiling replaying it in your head and looking like shit the next day and people telling you you looked tired?
Where others can suspend disbelief, I am forever looking for true portrayals of reality, which made watching Weeds an experience full of frustration and morbid fascination. And I ingested it all mid-subway ride. Not an ounce of it felt possible, the only thing that felt real was my acute transferred unease.
Anxiety aside, I experience TV and movies in a way I’m convinced very few other people do. I often lose the main narrative completely in the name of obsessing over little details, most of which probably don’t matter.
I’m constantly noting while watching TV that characters are drinking and then getting into their cars with no explanation and no consequences. Every once in a while you’ll get an extremely satisfying DUI or accident, when the writers are more firmly rooted in reality. But most of the time the story just moves along. It’s always seemed like such a huge oversight to me. I watch a character have three shots of tequila and then it cuts to her behind the wheel, all ten and two. Maybe we’re just supposed to fill in the two hours while she was waiting to sober up with our imaginations? If that’s true, they’re asking a lot.
I notice when food at a restaurant arrives way too fast. I notice when the leading man says “I’ll pick you up at 8” and walks away, never actually getting her phone number or address. I resent these gaps. I like to think that if I wrote TV I would hold myself to a higher standard. But honestly if I were a TV writer, I wouldn’t be particularly great with deadlines, let alone doing quality work. That shit is hard.
Speaking of my writing- I’m struggling a bit these days, the good kind of struggling I think. I’ve been working kind of intensely on one piece, which isn’t something I do often. My comfort zone is firing off quippy, half baked dispatches, like I do on this blog. But I’m trying right now to actually write and rewrite and get notes from people I trust and then rewrite again. The idea is that I’ll end up with a couple of pieces that are worth people who aren’t in my immediate friend group reading. I’m in the airport in Houston right now, on my way home from a trip I took for a friend’s 30th. While I was here I spent hours on something I’m writing about a very specific period in my life. I have wanted to abandon it about 100 times and I’m still banging my head against a wall on the daily over it. But it’s cool seeing it slowly become better. I think. I’m writing about myself and my life in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I’m hoping that’s because I’m succeeding in showing a raw side of me, and not because it’s just not very good.