Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sofa Rambles: Ghosts of TV past

Under the weather the past two days. Spent a good bit of today on the couch watching Joan of Arcadia mini-marathon on Syfy. There are shows that are fun, consistently entertaining, and have some episodes that really stand out as awesome. And then there are the shows that are just stunningly well crafted, make me think, laugh, and occasionally bawl a little. Shows were *everything* just clicks. Vintage West Wing is like that for me. Joan of Arcadia was like that.

Simple premise: This very ordinary girl (bright, sarcastic, bit of an underacheiver) starts having conversations with God, who quotes Bob Dylan and the Beatles, but almost never scripture. I love that God is portrayed as having infinite faces (and very often ones that you would dismiss or overlook), and that what the characters profess to believe (or not) doesn't automatically make them good or bad people, just human beings.

This show is a study in character and storytelling. Unfortunately, the second half of the second season gets all out of whack (I'm sure due to network tinkering*) and ends on not only an unresolved chord, but a discordant one. You should watch it--but stop with season two through "Friday Night." (Episode 2.8) This episode is heartbreaking, bittersweet, and ends beautifully--painful and hopeful and oddly joyful, against the odds. Just like life.

Anyway. I wonder if this show influenced my writing YA as much as anything else. It wasn't a YA show, but the protagonist was definitely in that 'figuring things out' stage. I think it illustrates why YA literature can have such wide appeal. We're ALL trying to figure things out, over and over again, at different stages in life. I have the same struggles and questions as Joan, about the world, the divine, and my role and relationship to both. And I love shows and books that explore those questions without dogma or easy, pat answers.

There you go--today's ruminations from the sofa. You're welcome. ;-)

*JoA wasn't bringing in the demographic than CBS wanted, so there was substantial inconsistancy and lack of focus, not to mention dumbing down of the characters and plots. This was a show about subjects with no pat answers or clear villains. It was replaced by The Ghost Whisperer.

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