Grey’s Anatomy and emotional investment in fake people

I spent some time this weekend getting caught up on my DVR, including Grey’s Anatomy. And, yes, I watched THAT episode of Grey’s. The one that caused people to consider suing fictional hospitals, petitioning Shonda Rhimes to give the show the Dallas treatment, and boycotting watching from here on out. And, yes, all of this was very ridiculous.

But I still sobbed inconsolably.

Now, I’ll admit that it’s not the first episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I’ve bawled uncontrollably through. When Meredith had to cut Cristina out of her wedding dress? A mess. When the shooter was taking out doctors left and right? Couldn’t stop the tears. When Callie and the cast sang their way through a tragedy? Pass the Kleenex.

I’m emotionally attached, to say the least.

And it’s not the only TV show I have this issue with. Series finales of Boy Meets World, Roseanne and Glee…all equally sob-inducing. And, if Twitter/Facebook/Instagram are any indication, I’m not the only one with this problem.

The question is, why?

Why do we get so emotionally invested in TV shows and fictional characters? As someone on Twitter pointed out so well, these are fake people with fake lives. Nothing that happens on Grey’s Anatomy or any other show has anything to do with whether my life is good, bad or indifferent. It’s just there, another piece of pop culture that we take in and that is there to entertain us.

Or is it?

Whenever I question why I still watch Grey’s Anatomy, I’m immediately transported back to when I first started watching as a freshman in college. It was 2006 and Grey’s was just starting its third season, coming off what turned out to be one of its most epic storylines – Denny’s death. I was experiencing a whole new world away from home and, because of the huge popularity of the show, Grey’s Anatomy was a part of it.

I remember being in a lecture where the professor was trying to schedule a review session and when asking if Thursday night would work, several of the girls in the front row started shaking their head “no”. When he asked why not, they said “That’s when Grey’s Anatomy is on.” He then asked the lecture hall of more than 200 people how many of them would be watching Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday – and, I swear, more than 80% of the class raised their hands.

I remember piling into dorm rooms with friends to watch the show every week. I remember sitting in my room, illegally downloading the latest music from each episode. I remember using quotes like “Pick me. Choose me. Love me.” as my status on MySpace and Facebook. The show was huge.

And, for me, it sort of acts like a sticky note on the pages of a particularly important time in life, like an old friend that was there along for the ride.

Now, here’s the thing – I know that Grey’s hasn’t been good for awhile. But I’m a bitter ender – even after TV shows, movies, etc. get bad, once I’m invested, I have to watch until the bitter end. Because at one point it was good. And, at one point, it was a part of my life.

So, here’s to unnecessary emotional investment and nostalgia. Adios, Dr. McDreamy. It was a good – and tear-filled – run. May we all take your advice and approach each day as “a beautiful day to save lives” – no matter in what way that takes form.

Big Love – Embrace it

Whenever I mention that I watch the HBO show Big Love, people always tend to give me a sideways glance. It’s that glance that says “Isn’t that about polygamists? Why would you want to watch a show about that?” Well, it is about polygamists. But it’s also about more than that.

It’s about family.

Big Love is about more than polygamy. It's about family and the different ways that love can look for each of us.

If you take the time to watch the first season of Big Love, you’ll learn that the show portrays so much more than just a group of polygamists. There are dynamics and relationships between the husband, Bill, and each of his wives, as well as between each of the wives themselves. During the season finale of the first season, I remember being in body-shaking tears because of the emotions and situations that this family was going through. Yes, I get overly attached to characters, but that can only happen when you can identify with something those characters are feeling. The show may be about polygamists, but they experience feelings and situations many of us go through daily.

Because of the situations the show puts its characters in, I think Big Love pushes its viewers to understand and look at the idea of what makes a family a little differently. Now I’m not saying I’m running out to be an advocate of polygamy. However, I think we all need to be reminded now and again that love and family look different to each of us. Is it our place to judge what that should be?

If you have the chance (or Netflix), I’d encourage you to check out Big Love. There’s only 5 seasons and they’re all pretty short (10-12 episodes a season). I’d love to hear what you think of it.

A love of musicals

Warning: If you’re looking for a post about agriculture, this isn’t one of them. Tune in for that in the future. For now, just learn a little more about my total geekiness and one of the things I love.

I am a self-admitted Gleek. I can’t help it. When I first heard of a show that was basically an hour long musical on TV every week, I knew this was the thing for me.

I love music of pretty much all kinds, but especially musical theater and musicals on film. There’s something about not just hearing a song on the radio, but rather using songs to tell stories. Ever since I heard The Phantom of the Opera on tape (which my parents picked up after seeing the show in Toronto), I was hooked. I knew all the words and tried to sing it like the great opera singers in the cast (probably to the detriment of my parents’ hearing). When I finally got to see it in the eighth grade, it was everything I imagined and more. Since then, I’ve been in the audience for The Lion King, Rent, a local production of Annie Get Your Gun and, my favorite, Wicked. There are so many more musicals I want to see, but I love every opportunity to get introduced to a new show and its wonderful music.

This is where Glee comes in. With its covers of Broadway and pop culture hits, Glee is everything a music fan (or at least one who can appreciate covers and high school drama) could ask for.

Now, I know Season 2 suffered. I think every Glee fan knows this and a part of them is saddened. Characters that could have been developed weren’t. Characters that should have stayed gone seemed to show up. Storylines changed and disappeared mid-stream. I think it got bigger than the show’s creators were ready for and, while there were a few shining moments (Rocky Horror, the Christmas episode and the hour and a half “Born This Way” episode come to mind), overall it got a little messy.

But I just finished watching Season 1 (streaming on Netflix!) and it reminded me why I loved the show so much in the first place.

There’s a part of me – the part that loves musical theater – that just gets giddy when writers can string song into a good storyline. It’s like the lyrics are dialogue, just like the rest of the script, only they’re able to convey so much more feeling and emotion than regular speaking can. Whether it’s “Don’t Rain on my Parade” from Funny Girl, a Journey medley, “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga or “To Sir With Love” from the movie of the same name, there’s just something about musicals – in this case musical television, a completely new genre I think – that makes me happy.

In a few months, Season 3 will begin and I have high hopes for it. I don’t know if my hopes will be realized, but I remain optimistic. There’s a bunch of new writers and it’s the last season for series regulars Lea Michelle, Corey Monteith and Chris Colfer (a former FFA member!). I hope they send them off with a bang and remind me of why I came to love a show about a high school glee club so stinkin’ much.