I have a very strong theory that people who are chronically unhappy just don’t watch enough television.
People say that music is the best therapy (no they don’t actually, but just stay with me) but I think that’s inaccurate. I love music deeply . I love it more than 99% of all things or people. And yes, I strongly believe that it has healing properties. But music more often than not allows you to dwell on your feelings. Music lets you drown in your sorrows with deeply emotional songs that drain you in their earnest sadness before you are able to begin swimming back to the surface with a jaunty tune. (Note to self: work on metaphors. And brevity.)
Anyway, whatever, that’s great and all. When I want to just be sad, there’s nothing like a good sad song to let me do it. But if I actually want to stop being sad and start feeling better instantly, that’s where TV comes in.
Everyone knows you can’t just listen to a happy song when you’re sad. It feels unnatural and wrong. And movies sometimes fare no better. When my boyfriend and I had a big fight and (ultimately temporary) breakup, I decided it was a super idea to watch High Fidelity. Note to you guys: DON’T DO THAT. Bad plans. My two favorite movies of all time, Say Anything and Sixteen Candles, are equally terrible movies to watch when you’re trying to be happy, especially if the sadness you feel was caused by a member of the opposite sex, because you will instantly begin comparing your significant other to Lloyd Dobbler and Jake Ryan and then hurl yourself out the window (maybe; but probably not).
But the right TV show, that’ll save you.
This past weekend, for one reason or another, I haven’t been in the best of spirits. I don’t want to talk about it, but it’s hormone-related – I SAID I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. The only cure? Watching the entire first season of Chuck in thirty-six hours. And it worked like a dream. (Side effects include falling madly in love with Zachary Levi and being physically unable to get “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” out of your head.)
That’s always the way of it. It’s the perfect 22 – 42 minute cure. Tolerating commercials for male enhancement drugs and local spots for carpet installers (800-988-2300 Empiiiiiire! Today!) are a very small price to pay for pure and utter bliss. And it’s because of this: most TV shows follow the standard three-act format featuring a balanced combination of humor and heart. So you get a full emotional journey from beginning to end in one short sitting. It’s genius really.
Without getting into it, I’ve considered going on psychiatric drugs in the past, because I have a bit of trouble … with … lady things, LOOK I SAID I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT, JESUS CHRIST. But I’ve decided against it every time. Because for one reason or another, this is all I need. The way to make me happy is to leave me the hell alone because I will eat your face off, then let me watch How I Met Your Mother or something, then I’ll call you and be nice and cheerful again. It’s simple really.
I don’t mean to belittle anyone who has to deal with something like depression or bi-polar disorder. It sucks, I know. It’s hard. And heavens knows I am all for the prescription drugs that will help people deal with any kind of problem that requires it (Tom Cruise thinks me glib). But I do think my TV theory holds water.
My friend Kelly and I had a conversation recently talking about people who don’t own TVs because they’re too smart and awesome for such crude devices. These people are known as “complete and total assholes from hell.” I want no part of people who don’t watch TV. What is the matter with these people? What do these people have to talk about with others? My friends and I often communicate solely in Firefly quotes and Michael Scott aphorisms. Obviously that’s not all there is to discuss in this world, but popular culture is social currency. How do you know what’s going on in the world, especially right now? And if you say the Internet, you’re a damn hypocrite because there is WAY more dumb vapid shit on the Internet than on TV. Sure, I hate the fact that I know who Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt are, two people who cause me to wish various plagues and pox upon my alleged fellow human beings, but I also know who Tina Fey and Rachel Maddow are, two women who give me great hope for the future and great faith in my fellow man. TV is awesome.
So next time you’re feeling down, don’t listen to “Band of Horses” or “The Acorn” unless you want to dwell a bit, which we all do sometimes. If you want to feel better, pop in The OC Season 2 (underrated) or Coupling. And let the healing begin.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.