I'll Never Write a Novel

The Memoir of a Personal Essayist OR Confessions of a Theatre Widow

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Why So Lost?

I am addicted to “Lost.” It’s a TV series, for those of you who don’t know (yeah, right!). And it is addictive—like crack, or a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato.

For awhile my husband and I thought that we could live without TV. Crazy! Everything was going fine, from about May to October. We read, joined Netflix, and watched our own movie collection, enjoyed CDs and radio programming. We talked to one another. Then, the season premier of “Lost” came sneaking around the corner, and WHAM! We got ourselves some cable again.

Well, we didn’t, at first: We thought, gee, why get TV for one show? Then, iTunes started carrying episodes for $1.99 (a steal of a price, I might add). And, it was also a great way to hang out with my sister Wednesday nights. She loves “Lost,” too, and has cable. So, we’d rendezvous to relive our jonesing. But, at the end of the day, we realized that it was about more than “Lost.” We wanted to reengage ourselves into the public consciousness. That’s what the big lummox of a glowing box does for us.

Don’t get me wrong, when I called to schedule my cable installation one Friday, setting the appointment for the following Friday my husband said, “Seriously, you couldn’t have gotten it installed before the next episode of “Lost’?” No, I couldn’t. So, we watched it on iTunes.

It really was about more than “Lost.” I realized that the universal history that most Americans share is TV. While ratings decline channel options grow and TiVo, iTunes, and OnDemand fracture the market, it’s amazing how many people still quote “No soup for you,” from Seinfeld, “You’re Fired,” from The Apprentice or countless other pop culturisms that have imbued our language. I may tell people that I HAVE to watch “America’s Next Top Model” because it’s work-related (I’m a modeling agent), but the truth is, I want to know what’s going on in the world. And, it’s sad but true, television is the common language that this world speaks.

It’s not all bad. I’ll never forget staying up all night during Election 2000 to see the votes come in and the toss-up of whether Bush or Gore won. It was amazing watching Schindler’s List completely unedited and commercial-free on network television a few years back. Sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas as images from the Tsunami came in from Phuket in December 2004 made me understand the world devastation that had occurred. You could even say that we know more about the world, and maybe about one another because of TV. So many perspectives, so many stories and immeasurable shared laughs could be bringing this ‘global village’ together.

Oh, and I love “Lost.” And “Saturday Night Live.” And “Scrubs.” I love TV. I have been brainwashed and I am not complaining. I long to get caught up in the stories of characters and see what happens next. There is a reason that people are inventing better TVs. People will buy them—in HD and with DVR and lots of options. We’re hooked.

Hopefully, we won’t get too sidelined on our real lives. I understand that I don’t need to know if Walt is really in an underwater hatch or if Alvar Hanso is Locke’s dad. I just want to know. I hope that I don’t ever let TV substitute for the real experiences the actual world has to offer. At the end of my life I will not be laying in bed saying, “I wish I would have watched just one more hour of Comedy Central.” I’ll wish that I had spent more time with my family or been awake to watch one more sunrise. But, for now, I need more laughs and suspense and a break from paying bills. And “Lost” does that. Television gives me those moments that I share with my sister and husband and friends--and I like it.

For all the great moments and shared experiences, I get that a lot of programming stinks. It would be nice to take out all the infotainment, bloated pundits and TV trash. Only time will tell what the TV of the future will look like. Will it be a better picture of the world, with more joy to share? Or will it just be more opportunities to “set it and forget it!” The real question is, when will TiVo come out with a crap filter?


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