sitcom

Exit 249. I like consistency.

The TV show The Goldbergs is one of the most relatable shows to me in the history of television.  The show is about growing up in the 1980s with a crazy family.  That was my life (except that we’re not an East Coast Jewish family).  The show’s creator, Adam F. Goldberg, is the same age as me, and he basically just wrote a sitcom based on his actual family and childhood friends.  Many of the episodes’ stories themselves are based on true stories.  (“Adam” and all other names in this writing related to The Goldbergs will refer to the characters, not the actual persons on whom they are based, since this distinction may be relevant at times.)

By now, I’ve seen almost every episode from all six seasons (so far) of the show.  Every now and then, though, I’ll turn on Goldbergs reruns and see one that I haven’t seen before.  That happened a few weeks ago, with an episode from season 3.  One of the recurring story lines throughout season 1 involves the preteen Adam’s interest in a girl named Dana, who becomes his first girlfriend.  At the end of season 2, Dana tells Adam that she and her family are moving across the country because her dad got a job out of the area.  The beginning of season 3 finds Adam and Dana in eighth grade and attempting a long distance relationship (which in the 1980s could only be done with expensive long distance telephone calls).

Dana comes to visit a few times that year.  In this episode, the one which I saw for the first time recently, Adam is excited for Dana’s impending visit; he prepares to do all the things that they loved to do together before she moved, including going to a Weird Al Yankovic concert.  (Yankovic himself guest stars, wearing his hair as he did in the 80s.)  But Dana is unenthusiastic about doing all of those things.  Adam and Dana realize that they have grown apart as they have grown up, and they break up at the end of the episode.

As I’ve said before, I’ve had a hard time dealing with this kind of thing happening in my own life.  I like consistency.  I didn’t really have a group of friends in childhood, and when I finally got one late in high school, we all dispersed and moved away soon after, and I lost touch with most of them.  And I’m going through it again.  The group of friends I’ve spent the most time with over the last several years is shrinking.  Many of the others have grown up, gotten married, had children, and in various other ways taken on new adult lives, leaving them less time for game nights with friends or staying up ridiculously late.  Some have jobs that limit their social time.  (I have a job, but I manage to make socializing happen anyway, to some extent.  That’s probably why I’m tired all the time.)  Others have drifted out of my social circle for numerous other reasons.  And some people have moved away; I have had an unusually large number of friends move away in 2019, or plan to do so soon.

Why is all of this happening?  Some of it is just a natural part of life.  People grow and change, and their friendships and relationships change as a result of this, much like the story of Adam Goldberg and Dana.  This might not be what I want, but sometimes there’s just no way to stop it.

Or maybe, just maybe, God is clearing out my life to prepare me for something new.  Maybe I myself will be moving out of the area as well.  (God answered a prayer about that in the negative a few months ago, and I have no plans to move at this point, but who knows what will happen in the long term.)  Maybe I will become involved in a time-consuming way at my little 10-person church, as we find ways to grow.  Maybe there will be a new activity or a new relationship or a new hobby of some sort, or something I can’t even imagine right now.  Or maybe I’ll just make new friends, or for some reason shift my priorities to one of the other social circles of which I am on the periphery.  Not much I can do about it.  I just have to figure out which parts of my life to hold on to and which to let go of, and not stay stuck in the grieving phase when parts of my life are ripped from me through no fault of my own.

Exit 242. The unrelatable becoming relatable.

The television sitcom The Big Bang Theory came to an end this week after being on for 12 seasons.  The show has an ensemble cast of nerdy and geeky young scientists and their ditzy aspiring actress neighbor.  They all come from such different worlds, and often they don’t understand each other’s little quirks.  As the series went on, new characters were introduced, mostly to bring in love interests for the main characters.  (Leonard didn’t need a new character; he ends up married to Penny, the aspiring actress).

I started watching that show in the middle of season 3, on the recommendation of nerdy and geeky friends.  I stopped watching somewhere around season 8 or 9, I think.  I don’t usually stop watching TV shows at all.  I’m still watching Survivor after 19 years, and The Simpsons after 30 (although I’m not as excited about it anymore as I used to be, for a variety of reasons).  I stuck with X-Files even during the mostly Mulder-free season 9.

Part of the reason I stopped watching The Big Bang Theory was that I was really busy for a while, and I just never caught up and never got back in the habit of watching it again.  But part of it was that it just wasn’t as funny as the older seasons were.  The show changed in a way that made it less relatable to me.  As the show became more popular in the mainstream, they placed the characters in more mainstream situations, by which I mostly mean they all found significant others.  Also, the characters felt more like Hollywood trendy elite’s stereotypes of what scientists and sci-fi aficionados are like, rather than what those people are actually like. (To some extent, though, this was true about the show from the beginning).

So, a year ago or so, they announced that this season would be the last, and I’ve been seeing commercials during Survivor and The Amazing Race that the last episode of The Big Bang Theory would be coming soon.  I decided that the show deserved enough respect for me to tune in one last time.  Apparently I had missed a lot in the last few years.  Sheldon and Amy got married.  Howard and Bernadette had kids.

The final episode was a good one.  It still wasn’t the same kind of funny as the early seasons, but I think they did a good job of wrapping up the story.  It was relatable to the mainstream, yes, but also enjoyable to someone like me.  And that was sort of a theme addressed in the show… the unrelatable becoming surprisingly relatable.  But I won’t give anything away.

Maybe I’ll have to go back and watch the seasons I missed someday… someday when I have time.  Then I’ll feel like I know the complete story… because, you know, not having the complete story totally sounds like something Sheldon would freak out about.

That’s all for this week.  I’m exhausted, and I can’t think of anything more profound to write about.