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OP-ED: Between two realities

  • Published at 09:42 pm June 30th, 2020
Photo: Reuters

Is escaping reality through TV shows and films a good idea?

We are living in such a digitized world where we can click on a button and share our thoughts and even, to some extent, our presence (through photos and video calls), with people far away from us. We experience both the blessings and the curse of how much easier it has been over the past few years to get into people’s minds all across the world. 

I’m not just talking about social media. I think it’s high time we talked about how Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO. etc are affecting our minds without us even realizing it.

I’ll agree that quarantined life without Netflix would be somewhat unbearable at some point. And that is one of the easiest ways of escaping our own reality. Movies like Train to Busan and Contagion are gaining more views during this time simply because they resemble our current situation. 

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tv shows or movies resemble our reality, and so can connect to our deepest emotions. That’s why when Bojack Horseman came to Netflix, I instantly became a fan. Because I could see parts of Bojack’s characteristics in me, or mine in him. 

After five seasons of portraying alcoholism, manic depression, abandonment issues, and one last season of turning his life over a new leaf, turning him into a better person, and giving the whole series a bittersweet ending, they wrapped it up in an optimistic way for all the people out there like me, who could connect so much to this old, irresponsible, irritating, and a total nightmare of a person, Bojack Horseman. 

Was that it? When the series ended, I cried, felt better, saw a ray of hope for me that everything would be better. I’d do better from now on. 

But soon I realized that doing better everyday was way harder than I thought. And you wouldn’t get instant results, or the opportunities Bojack did. Things sort of happen for them, not for us. 

I realized that I was getting tired of doing things in the right way, tired of being conscious all the time, tired of pushing myself too much. They didn’t make at least two seasons portraying how hard it could be for him to get back on his feet even after he finally decided to be a better person, and scenes portraying his hard work and failure that. 

And we, civilians of 21st century, mostly escaping and barely living, assumed the task of being better versions of ourselves would be an easy one, something that could be, and should be done in a short time.

I’m a struggling article writer/content creator who studied Economics and have no interest in a career that could remotely be relatable with the subject I studied. I watch characters like Alexis Rose (from Schitt’s Creek) who was somewhat lost like me at first, had no idea of what she was doing in life other than dating a bunch of people, and didn’t even have a high school degree, and finally became a successful publicist, working at her own PR and communications firm. 

This makes me feel optimistic and competitive at the same time. For example, if this article is rejected, I’ll not only feel frustration, I’ll also feel like a loser because Alexis could do it, but I couldn’t. It might sound odd, but there are way more people who take TV shows and, movies seriously enough to feel this way. 

People who feel stuck in their lives and want to move forward, or people having no actual friends or support from family, and they seek the comfort in watching characters on their screens and feel assured thinking that they are not alone. 

These characters get out of the quicksand eventually, at the end of the show, while we can’t. There’s no ending to our TV show, and this frustration is worse than the comfort we feel at first.  

At this point, I’ve decided to put an end to these comparisons. I’ve decided that, no matter how much I resemble these characters, they will always be characters, living in a world with limited problems created by the writers of the shows and that I’m in no hurry to reach there, where they seemed to reach so easily. 

That it is okay to write about my feelings and get rejected by publishers or websites because I am not a character created by another human being. Life is more complicated than that.

Sanjida Alam Ria is a student of economics.

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