Backwards TV

After counting on my fingers and toes, counting backwards, and consulting my computer’s desktop calendar, I have deduced (rather brilliantly) that it’s Sunday. Almost immediately I forget it, as it doesn’t mean a lot these days. We aren’t going to work and we don’t have a television that we use to watch television, but rather movies and series online or on DVD.

Truth be told, I have not been a “television watcher” for many years and I mean that literally and not in the uber-obnoxious way that some do. (I don’t even own a television.) But rather for fifteen years I have mostly watched things online. I can easily binge a sitcom if I am in need of a screen-time comfort zone. And I have a log of comfort shows and movies – Seinfeld, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Shaun of the Dead (though not recently). I can’t remember what it’s like to need to adhere to a TV schedule.

But I remember liking it. There was always something great about good TV nights. Seinfeld was on Thursdays along with Friends, The Single Guy, and the unmovable ER. And plus there’s always something brilliant about stumbling across a show rather than putting in a DVD of it. It’s like getting an extra rush of excitement. And I do think it’s why we love flipping through the channels so much. We are like primal hunters, with a remote in one hand and a box of Cheese Nips in the other, looking for the mother lode of TV that promises to be just around the corner. The first few minutes of Jaws. A replay of the Eagles Superbowl game. The very tipoff of a 10 hour M*A*S*H marathon. An episode of Columbo from the 70s. The non-remote holders might shout “For God’s sake, just stop here!” but we say “Nae! There’s something better yonder!” and beat our chests to clean our sweaters of Cheese Nips. Or something like that.

Burke likes some TV from the U.S. so it matters more to her. I have learned about some of these scheduled programs because I have to watch them. 90 Day Fiancée comes out on Sunday because we watch it on Monday. It’s the same with Sister Wives, but we watch that one less. Roll my eyes though I do to these shows I find that I am deeply enthralled by a few minutes in. I don’t know why Usman stays with that horrid witch! And then I’ll beat my chest to clean it of Cheese Nips to reassert my masculinity.   

I have noticed that my perceptions of normality has been distorted. And this isn’t the first time. After I lived in Europe for a few years, I couldn’t believe that people wore shoes inside the house. When George Costanza once had his sneakers up on Jerry’s couch I couldn’t believe my eyes. People wearing pants at home absolutely stuns me into a state of unconsciousness. Now it’s any human contact – of which there is a ton. All over TV, insane people are kissing, holding railings in subway stations! One haphazard bastard actually rubbed a table and then rubbed her lip. I mean. What the hell. People everywhere heaping together in illogical groups of two and three. The insanity never stops.

Last night, as it was Burke’s night to choose our show, we watched Everwood. A teen-ish drama show that doubles as a quirky-town show. It’s funny and consistently forces me to exercise my eyes by tearing up or rolling them. The show is enjoyable, I admit. It touches on heavy topics just enough that my sensitive pedometer doesn’t throb in the red. It’s generally more lighthearted than anything, but with enough family tension and the occasional dip into unexpected death that keeps me on my toes. All in all, it’s not a bad way to spend an hour if I have to watch something I haven’t seen two hundred times before, which is what I’d prefer to do. I know each step a Seinfeld will take, each set up on Brooklyn 99, and each time Michael Scott will go just a bit too far (I often find my way into the kitchen for a drink at these moments).

We’re streaming the show and while the quality is fine, the streaminess is (perhaps artistically) conveyed in the fact that everything on the screen is backwards. This includes the names – so we are really watching doowrevE created by itnalreB gerG and starring smailliW taerT. People get out of the wrong side of the cars, clocks are backwards, and people shake hands (gasp!) with the left hand, which these days isn’t any worse or better than doing it with the right. When a son and dad took basketball shots last night I was amazed that they were both left handed, until I realized my gaff.

Frankly, I can’t imagine a more suitable show to watch during this period than a drama-comedy about a quirky town in which everything is backwards. Because that sort of sums up the world right now. There’s comedy and drama and everything is backwards. And even as I slipped into my comfort zone watching Jim Halpert and Michael Scott and the antics of Kramer and George, I knew that something wasn’t quite right. It was too normal for these times. It feels as if I am a guy from a distant future world who has come across a box of DVDs from the pre-apocalyptic world, and I marvel at the antics on the screen on which the insane and hipster doofuses of the nineties shake hands like sane people.

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