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My Life in Television


Distractions are good, especially when you are in a period of waiting. Typically, I gravitate towards a blend of books, TV, and movies to immerse myself in a world other than my own. Recently, a friend coaxed me into watching a new show. I caught up on five seasons in a matter of weeks – only to be devastated by its recent finale (thanks Caryn). But did it get my mind off of the wait? You betcha. It also got me to thinking about how much I just love and appreciate good television. In another life, I’d be working in this genre instead of observing from the sidelines.  Out of all of the hours I’ve logged, these are some of my most memorable…

Family Ties – “A My Name is Alex”

I was 15 years old when this Family Ties episode – about the sudden death of Alex’s friend – aired.  I loved the concept, the dialogue, the acting. And it was the first time I ever really appreciated really good television. I could also relate. Like Alex, I was a deep over thinker at times. In fact, I can still recall my favorite line of dialogue from him – “Mallory, it must be so easy to be you.” I knew what that meant, because I never felt like it was easy to be me.

ER – “Such Sweet Sorrow”

Picking just one episode from this show is a challenge. I sobbed endlessly through Love’s Labor Lost; I was terrified by the stabbing attack of Lucy and Carter; and I threw something at my television when Doug left the show. But to this day, Carol Hathaway is one of my favorite characters of all time and seeing her get the send-off she deserved – on a pier in Seattle with the father of her twins – was supremely satisfying. And – really – how many people get actual phone calls from friends to congratulate them on the return of George Clooney in that arc? Me – that’s who. And I wave my freak flag proudly.

Sex & the City – All of Them

When your love life sucks, you can live vicariously through a television show. This is what Sex and the City did for me. And in between offering up lots of highs and lows when it came to love and sex, it did something else – it taught me that you need to love yourself before you are really ready to love someone else. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw from the very last show – “An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux – “…the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Friends – “The One With….”

Friends was everything in the mid-90s. I loved it from the minute go, but one of my early favorites was “The One Where Ross Finds Out” when Ross and Rachel kiss for the first time. Years later, I actually scored passes to a live taping in LA during the show’s eighth season, which in the end sounds more exciting than it actually was. But if pressed to pick an all-time favorite, I would have to go with “The One with the Embryos” where Monica and Rachel face off against Chandler and Joey in a round of trivia and end up losing their apartment.  “Rachel – we steal that TV Guide ever week….”

My So Called Life – “Self Esteem”

It’s best known as the Hallway Scene. You know, that scene – the one you wished happened to you in high school with the unattainable guy that you loved from afar for years. Well, Angela finally got her moment. While “Late at Night” by Buffalo Tom played in the background, Jordan finally manned up and grabbed that girl’s hand in the hall in front of everyone.  And no other show has ever captured the intensity of high school, teen angst, and unrequited love quite like My So Called Life.

Six Feet Under – “Everyone’s Waiting”

At times, watching this series was like a test of mental stamina. But, in the end, it was worth the journey. Once Sia’s “Breathe Me” started to play in that closing montage, I was a goner. Watching Claire drive away to face an exciting and uncertain future (with Nate running behind her car) brought such a sense of hope to a series so often filled with depression and despair. I could have abandoned the show once Nate died suddenly, but I would have missed out on the best series finale ever.

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