A few months back, my brain decided that the perfect time for a seizure would be as I was crossing the street, and the back of my head hit the edge of the concrete curb very, very hard so: Ta-Da! Concussion! (At least I didn’t die, yay!). The doctor at the hospital told me that for the next few weeks I’d have to rest my brain. I wasn’t allowed to read but I got him to agree to let me watch TV (I mean, what else would I have done? How would I live?) and he relented: “As long as the content wasn’t too complicated.”
So, for this week’s Get Out of Hellevision, let’s talk about what to TV binge-watch when your brain feels like a squishy, gooey pumpkin filling. Yum!
The only criteria I gave myself about which shows to pick:
- No LOST (I can’t cry like that again! Plus, I can’t imagine trying to keep up and follow the rules of The Island with my brain in this state.)
- No Dr. Who! (Sorry, Whovians. I just can’t with that show.)
Who wouldn’t marathon this just under normal circumstances? The earlier seasons are what I focused on because they followed that tried-and-true medical procedural formula. It was easy to follow, always made me laugh, and helped me forget that I was basically stuck in my house in the dark (damn sensitivity to light). There’s not enough props I can give Dr. House and Dr. Wilson for always getting at least a big chuckle out of me, and during this time that was paramount. Plus, hello! Hugh Laurie is foiiiinnnne!
Bonus points for all the medical jargon, which made me feel right at home after being in the hospital for a week.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Ah, Buffy. Such a big part of my teenage years. I grew up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Binge watching this as an adult was quite a treat. I didn’t mind how cheesy the effects may have been, or how unfortunate Angel’s hair choices were. What made this show special was always there — the true love between the cast and the lesson that you never give up on your friends. I care as deeply about these characters now as I did when I first watched the series. It taught me a lot about how life can do a great job of kicking you down (and sometimes sending you into a Hell Dimension) but as long as you believe in yourself (or your inner slayer, natch!) and you have your friends with you, there’s no Apocalypse or Hellmouth opening you can’t beat. Thank you, Joss Whedon, for this awesome gift to the world.
I know. Look, I know. This show can seem exploitative (what with all the rape and torture and cheesy bookend quotes by Nietzsche and Faulkner). I know that even Mandy Patinkin called it his “biggest public mistake” when he left after starring in it for two seasons. In his defense, he clarified to say that, “I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality.”
And yet I spent four weeks watching this damn show. I do want to say that the show is not only about terrorizing, raping and killing women. The violence is not shot in that creepy male-gaze “let’s-make-this-sexy” way that Stalker has down pat. No, when it comes to violence (and there is plenty of it) Criminal Minds is an equal-opportunity offender. Both victims and killers come in all genders, and the show always makes an effort to try and explain what would drive someone to commit those acts and they do so by using actual (if a bit dated) psychological theories and presenting it in a way that isn’t contrived.
What keeps me going back to this show is that it’s a nice simple formula (and as we know, formulaic shows are the best thing when your brain is mushy). There’s a crime, the FBI’s BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit — they study serial killers) are called in to help and do their thing, putting everything together to make a profile of the unsub (unknown subject) they’re dealing with. They’re usually right, but sometimes there’s a curve ball, then the team catches up to them just in time, right as the unsub is about to kill the last victim (though sadly sometimes they’re a tad late). Bad guy is taken down and then the team gets to fly back to Quantico in their jet (Oh yeah, there’s a jet!).
The team is more like a family, complete with a Boy Genius, the brilliantly handsome Dr. Spencer Reid; Tech Goddess, Penelope Garcia, who is the heart of the team and is as amazing with her tech skills as she is with her flirting with S.S.A. Derek Morgan; the resident hottie with sexy muscles and a tragic past. This is the main part of why it all works — these characters have the best chemistry together and you enjoy the time spent with them. The show always makes a point to show us the agents together even when not at work. You get the sense that these people love one another, and when they end a specifically dark episode with the team having drinks at a bar, you leave the show smiling because, dammit, they earned those drinks.
So, these are the three shows I mostly watched while slowly nursing my brain back to normal. I can say now that I’m almost 100% again (I can read and write, you guys!) and I’ve been feeling pretty awesome. This whole period has made me really appreciate my brain and further solidified in me the idea that TV, all on its own, can be therapy.
Do you feel like you need some TV therapy? Have any other shows to suggest? Feel free to let me know what you thought about my picks in the comments, or throw me some ideas for future topics for the GOoH Column. Trust me: any scenario in your life — I’ve got a show for that!