So recently at work our studio store reopened and while I was browsing the DVDs I spotted some familiar, simultaneously heart-warming and abhorrent faces. Yes, you guessed it, Melrose Place. Season 1. Almost without thinking, I picked up this burning hunk of DVD and stashed it in my basket. And while for two days it’s merely been sitting by my television, it’s already begun to work its magic on me.
You might already know that, for nearly two years now, I have been without television. That is to say, I HAVE a television, but not the cable that allows me to watch…you know, channels.
I’d like to say that it’s because I’m so appalled by the state of television today that I can’t bear to have it piped into my home. But really, there’s no use in pretending that I’m above D-list dance-offs and Model catfights. I want to see Jerry Springer in a ruffled shirt as much as the next guy. Truthfully, I don’t have it mostly because I am a cheap bitch and the thought of paying $60 a month for something that only wastes my time simply doesn’t make sense. I already pay for the internet, and it wastes my time just fine.
The whole point in mentioning any of this is to cast light on what I’ve come to term as my “bubble”–I have nearly no knowledge of what is happening in the world of celebrity, politics, current events, or tawdry reality shitheaps. I rely on friends to digest all the junk and give me the condensed, de-toxified results of their efforts. So far, it’s worked pretty well. I avoid the depressing day to day barrage, and wind up with only the most savory morsels. Natural disaster? Celebrity divorce? Political scandal? They deliver to me unfailingly, and for that I thank them.
And the whole point in mentioning any of THIS is to explain why a)I have missed out on a great deal of advancements in “television technology” like Tivo and b)I watch DVDs of shows because that’s as close as I can get.
That’s why I bought myself this Melrose Place set and have been gleefully looking forward to a long night of drama, pool fights, and back-stabbing. And just that anticipation has given me a sense of excitement and nostalgia. Remembering how agonizing it would be to have to wait from one episode to the next to find out, What the hell was up with the wig? And what kind of fucking doctor is this anyway? And how much crazier can Sydney possibly get? And why the hell do I occasionally find myself relating to her?
These questions and more were answered weekly when I was in high school. In fact, they were more a part of my regular rituals than attending classes, eating family meals, or socializing. I mean, watching WAS socializing. My girlfriends and I would all tune in, anticipating the next great disaster or triumph. We’d watch from our homes, just a few miles apart–in Downey, Paramount, Lynwood, Whittier…and at the first hint of a commercial, we’d all race to our phones and excitedly dial each other to say, “Ohmygod I can’t believe it! I know, Billy is totally hot! And WHAT is she WEARING?” It was actually difficult at one time, I remember that I had two very close girlfriends–Edna and Linda–and that for a brief period it was hard to decide who to call on which break. This was my greatest concern in life.
But now, now we have call-waiting, and Tivo, and DVDs of seasons within months of their air. The suspense is gone. Something has died. And I know I sound melodramatic and crotchety when I say that, but let’s face it–I am, kinda.
I’m sure this is a subject that’s been discussed by many others better-informed than myself. People who give you numbers and facts, and theories about the evolution of technology and its effect on media. But I guess what I’d like to say, for my part, is that I grieve the loss of that time. I will always want to revisit–to recall the smell of my first perfume, the feeling of applying eyeliner on a bus, the thrill of each forbidden wine cooler. It will never be like that again…and I know it really has nothing to do with Tivo or Dancing with the Stars.
If you’ll excuse me now, I have a hot date with five crazy hoes, and a cup of spicy thai soup.