Friday, May 18, 2007

Farewell, TV Friends

This week, the last episode (ever) of the Gilmore Girls aired. Now I know many of you aren't TV heads, and more power to you, but let's spend a few moments contemplating the end of a long running, well loved series. Much like a good friend, a good TV show moves into your life and, as the Indigo Girls would say, "makes your thinking crowded." Over time the characters grow with you, they grow into you somehow.

I remember when ST:TNG ended. Jean, where were you the night the episode aired? Was Paul Witworth involved? I don't remember, but while I tried, I ended up thinking "I don't know beans about cars." I digress. Anyway, I watched it by myself the first time, and then Dad called, and I explained to him the import of what had just occured. "All Good Things," a great last episode title. It was coming on summer in the Land of UCSC, where I'd seen almost all the Star Trek episodes. The show was (dare I write it?) much like our own expanding universe. So much to explore! We were working out the details of our own Prime Directives, if you will. Late nights watching Data and Picard, then discussing the holodeck and the jeffries tubes . . .

And the West Wing! The West Wing unfurled at the time of ultimate lameness with our "real" government. The show provided a reality where our leaders were not only brilliant, but moral and *gasp* articulate. Witty even. Moreover, I watched the show during years when I was surviving a workplace that had nothing going for it but the awesomeness of my coworkers. Watching, I could imagine what the world would be like if my real life brilliant coworkers were working on something that actually mattered, in a place that respected our abilities.

Now, too, we've lost the Gilmore Girls. I've watched Rory go through her prep school, and her four years of Yale. I've admired Lauren Graham's hair and pondered her indecision as she went from Luke to Christopher to Luke to Christopher to Luke. We really connected in the post-LOTR movie years, when Lorelai told Rory she had to be home by 10 p.m. lest she be set upon by orcs. Really, the Gilmore Girls get me. The people of Star's Hollow have come to represent my ideal community. Miss Patty and her dancing daffodils in that gazebo in front of Taylor's market are now benchmarks. Who doesn't have a community of some sort with it's town meetings, with Kirk as a mime, the random guy singing on the street corner, each wackier than the last, and valued for whatever their wackiness adds to the total picture.

So when these shows end, it's a lot like losing a friend. It hurts a little to know their stories won't progress any further, barring some awful reunion show you'd dread but watch because of it's train wreck magnetism. And it hurts to lose the potential metaphor the show provided, the lens that makes a little sense of "real" life. Sure, I can still toss out "Temba his arms wide," but I won't what new mannerism Data adopts in his quest to become human. I can still think "How would C.J. proccess these magazines? That's how I want to process them!" but I won't ever get to see the West Wing crew make their tour of all the National Parks, per President Bartlett's plan. How will Rory do, riding on the press bus following Barack Obama? You know I'll be looking for her when I watch the real-life press conferences.

Farewell, my TV friends. Thanks for sharing seven years of your fictional lives with me. I'll really miss you.


jean said...

What a lovely eulogy.

Can't remember where I was for the final episode of ST:TNG. Can't remember the final episode.

I don't know if any television show I faithfully watched felt like a metaphor for my life, but I was pretty bummed when we put in the last DVD for the british version of The Office and watched the last episode. And also, I was touched with the curtain call for Everyone Loves Raymond. I agree, you just get attached to these folks, you know?

Sarah said...

While the finale of Gilmore Girls did indeed touch me in a special place (my heart?), it's the season finales of Buffy, QAF, and Sex and the City that really stick out in my tv nostaglia-athons. Will Brian and Justin eventually meet again? Will Carrie and Mr. Big spend the rest of their lives together? Will Buffy...well, actually, I know what Buffy is up to, thanks to Joss Whedon et al putting out a comic books about the further adventures of Buffy and the gang. Hmmm...perhaps a West Wing comic...CJ running for president...yes, I can see it now...