I blame my years in journalism for this, but when the mood strikes, I can be an incessant poll-taker, and my friends, bless them, are my unwitting victims.
Last weekend, while grabbing lunch at a favorite southern joint downtown, it happened again. And this time, it was personal. “You guys, I have a problem,” I bemoaned. “The older I get, the more I over-analyze my favorite film and TV show.” Five minutes of predictable banter later, we all were disclosing our own theories. Andrew’s favorite movie was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, of which all of us agree is one of the most emotionally bruising visions ever put to cinema, and a favorite of broken hearts everywhere. Frank’s was Pulp Fiction, because of glowing suitcases, foot rubs and pot bellies. Jen’s was True Romance, because she felt that “they got it all right.” Of course, my girl is a former Ghost Hunter and frequent zombie walker. In other words, she amazes me. For TV, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files got frequent mentions, as did LOST, Friends and How I Met Your Mother.
Then I began to squirm in my seat the same way I do when girlfriends of mine talk about bad manicures. My favorites render me guilt-ridden. I feel about Nip/Tuck the way others feel about The Wire and I am not ashamed of this. Well, maybe a little bit. But just as Jen feels about True Romance, I feel Ryan Murphy accomplished this with Nip/Tuck. In my life, I have never been driven to such emotional depths by any source of entertainment than I have by this show. Why? Besides the fact that the acting is/was superb, the subjects the writers tackled were the most emotionally violent, honest and damaging stories I’ve ever seen. Sure, some seasons veered off into camp, but the story archs revolving around divorce, family, parenthood, love, death, cancer and friendship were masterful and impossible to look away from. And the show’s galvanizing use of music such as Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” Gary Numan’s “Cars,” Rufus Wainwright’s “Vibrate,” The Cars’ “Drive” and Art Garfunkel’s “All I Know” is devastating. So why am I analyzing this? You tell me.
Lastly, my favorite movie of all time is Trainspotting. To the point where I had a framed poster in my bathroom of Renton bursting out of the toilet after retrieving his suppositories. This movie and its soundtrack remain IT for me. Again, I ask you: Why? I am anti drug. Anti slackers. So what is my big takeaway here? Love, friendship, death, parenthood. Sound familiar? Universal themes presented in a very gritty way. Gritty intensity that equals the searing emotional and spiritual honesty its conveying. Life ain’t pretty.
Maybe I shouldn’t be guilt-ridden about this at all. Maybe I should just enjoy my Iggy Pop and botched plastic surgeries and celebrate what I find to be two of the most brilliant and culturally important films and TV shows of all time. How about you?