If you’re following me you may have realized that my most recent TV obsession is The Mindy Project. (Don’t lament, my dearest Haven and Parks and Rec, I am still marathoning you often.) I love going through phases where I take in a show and let it distract me from life things until my natural hermiting habits have taken their course and I once again join the daywalkers.
Today though, I was reading through overanalyzing tv’s blog and reading some quotes from Mindy Kaling about the show. I had to resist the urge to go on my usual rant about how entertainment creatives always seem to have this idea that they can’t sacrifice their creative integrity just to placate the audience. This is something that has always devastated me as a member of that very audience.
As an entertainer, once that work has aired, once it has a following, your work belongs to the audience. It’s not just your baby anymore. We are tuning in once a week, every week for an hour/half hour of our lives to emotionally invest in the characters and stories you create. For some of us that’s more time than we spend with some of our friends and family members. Lately, I’ve had a really hard time with this. I just moved to a new city and while I am by no means an actual hermit, I still find myself alone for long periods of time. My family and friends are mostly 2,000 miles away and while I have friends here I am still not settled. These shows fill a bit of that void.
Giving to Netflix shows that have been on a while or that have finished a chance isn’t hard. You know from the get-go what you’re getting into and have some idea of the resolution. When Lost was on I watched it when it aired for almost three years. That is, until I couldn’t take the stress anymore. I had to emotionally prepare to feel devastated every week and I just couldn’t continue to do that to myself. That’s why I chose to forgo quite a few phenomenal shows like Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead. I know I will like them but I didn’t want to face the heartbreak that comes with investing emotionally in a show every single week.
The Mindy Project is obviously different. The comedy is spot on, the intelligence and relatability always make it worth coming back for but, let’s face it, I’m a shipper. The Mindy/Danny relationship fills my ‘When Harry Met Sally’ heart with joy and I never want that to end. Alas, though, the beautifully hilarious and creative mind of Kaling has made me question how long I’ll keep going. The idea she has referenced of them amicably parting in the end is both wonderful and tragically realistic. I refer back to my argument that television is for the fans and the last thing I want to do is confront reality when I’m watching a thirty minute comedy. That is by no means implying that comedy can’t be poignant or sad, just that I will always want to leave a little happier than I arrived.
This is what led me to confront something about myself that—at twenty five—I was unprepared to confront. Firstly, I am far too invested in the media I consume. I am still wrecked a little bit from reading ‘The Hunger Games’ and I read that two years ago. Second, and more importantly, I can’t face the idea that things just end. As a logical, fully grown woman I completely understand that all things run their course. Your relationships, your jobs and even your dreams grow and change, usually into something that you weren’t expecting or prepared for. It’s not final like death. It’s just a change that happens over time. I have outgrown friends and situations and have only been the better for it. That idea though, that romantic love as we know it and understand it is really just the fluid thing that changes the same way our love for our childhood friends will is both comforting and painfully sad.
I’ve always hated rom-coms and yet my child brain somehow adopted this idea that soulmate love actually exists. My logic brain has always insisted that it doesn’t and rather than coming up with some sort of compromise I just quit thinking about it. What better way to avoid intimacy than by just putting off thinking about it, am I right? I haven’t had a lot of great examples of romantic relationships in my life. Personally, I’ve never been in one and the ones I’ve witnessed have usually ended badly or didn’t make much sense to the onlooker. I’ve seen a few that I have some hope for but in the end I know most will just run their course. I guess finally confronting it is just my way of acquiescing to getting older. But, now that I’m facing it in reality, must I also face it in the place that I go to escape reality?
As a creative brain I totally get the concept of doing something different and interpreting life on screen. As a creative who also wants a holodeck so that I can escape reality entirely, roll myself up in a cocoon of arrested development and exist in a world that I have complete control over I would prefer the less realistic, sappy outcome. So, I guess there’s a couple of choices: break the tropes, change the culture and make a creative statement that soulfully captures the bittersweet melancholia of life or suspend disbelief for a little while longer and enjoy this fictional idea that sometimes people grow together rather than apart.
I don’t know about you but I really just want a damn happy ending.
Oh, and watch The Mindy Project. It may have caused an existential crisis for me but sane people can watch it and enjoy the hilarity that comes from top notch writing.