My Inability To Separate Real Life From Television Shows
So it’s become apparent that I watch far too much television.
And it’s not just the quantity that’s the problem.
I’m a TV yoyo dieter, except that I only ‘yo’. As in there is no diet period. I like to binge myself half to death on a show, watch episode after episode in one night sittings til I’m cross legged in the dark on the floor at 4 in the morning, eyes dry and itchy, muttering incoherently and staring at a flickering screen with a brain incapable of registering any more of deliciously quirky Jess Day, deviously cunning Emily Thorne or gorgeously ferocious Daenerys Targaryen.
Aside from extreme sleep deprivation, this causes something else to happen. It’s not quite an inability to distinguish reality from fiction exactly. Rather it is an almost unnatural propensity to identify with the characters in these shows.
Of course, this is what scriptwriters want. To identify with a character is often (but not always) to like a character. And liking a character means you’ll continue to watch the show. Which keeps writers in business.
But I tend to ‘like’ too much. I get a bit obsessed. When going through my Buffy the Vampire Slayer phase, this took the form of oversized crucifixes, square toed boots and badly fitting leather coats. And when I say leather, I mean a kind of cheap imitation leather that my mother finally agreed to buy for me after months of wheedling. A coat that was excruciatingly hot in the sub-Saharan African oven that passed for summer. I don’t know why I bothered. I was definitely far more of a Willow than I was a Buffy anyway.
In my Gilmore Girls phase, I would try to emulate the manic 100-word-a-minute-or-bust dialogue of the coolest girl on the planet, Rory Gilmore, and dream about going to Harvard.
Incidentally, much of my Buffy and Gilmore Girls time overlapped, making for a rather odd combination.
In Lost, I WAS Kate. I imagined myself having a troubled past (I didn’t) and having to choose between two gorgeous men: my boyfriend at the time and of course Josh Holloway. And in my head that was a REAL, ACTUAL scenario. I spent a lot of time practising intense looks in a tank tops.
In The Tudors, I WAS Anne Boleyn, EVEN though I was fully aware of the nasty end that awaited her. Which is a bit worrying really. I wore a lot of pearls, pouted A LOT, and tried to hone my smize. I wasn’t much of a man-eater though. Probably because a weird duck faced, squinting girl covered her grandmother’s yellowing pearls is not most guys’ idea of the perfect woman.
In True Blood, I WAS Sookie. I embraced the (far less impressive) gap in my teeth, wore fitted white tees and repeatedly practised saying ‘Oh My Stars’ in a Southern accent. This didn’t last as long. I couldn’t get away with it at work.
And now it’s happening with a new set of characters. Concurrently I might add. I don’t know why I do it, why my part of my identity has to be rooted in a piece of fiction that someone else has written. Why I have plagiarised part of my identity.
Perhaps that’s what my mother meant when she said television rots the brain.
Ah well. Maybe I have a slightly rotten brain.
But that’s okay because:
The Jess Day in me would sing about it and adorn herself with a ‘feel-better’ bow.
The Jessa Johansson in me would flake out and leave without telling anyone where I was headed, all whilst dressed in a kimono and high tops.
The Emily Thorne in me would narrow her eyes and probably execute incredible martial arts all whilst wearing a bodycon dress.
And the Targaryen in me? Well she has dragons.
By Jess Dubbeld
Feature image via.