My emo reaction (and please shoot me)

So one of my very oldest and dearest friends, Scott, was waxing eloquent to me about this Canadian series he positively loves, Slings and Arrows. His wife tracked down the box set of the entire series, and Scott pressed into my hands the first two discs, the first season. “Let me know what you think.” he said.

Now, Scott and I are both, basically, theater people. Scott blames me for corrupting him; he did speech tournaments with me and others back in high school, but it was in college that he really caught the bug, and switched his major. He was one of the student directors awarded an actual slot in the season at the college, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever done in my life – Tribute.

So. Slings and Arrows is about theater, obviously. I’ve only seen the first episode so far, and I have to say that its primary impact is to plunge me into a deep state of melancholy. This was not what I was expecting, as I had been told, by various people, to expect something that was “hilarious”, or “pure bliss”.  Those adjectives have increased, since I admitted to this state of affairs on Twitter, and therefore Facebook.

The major thrust of the series is a trio of theater professionals, director, actor and actress, who years ago did a definitive version of Hamlet that was so good, the actor had a “mental breakdown”, ending his career. Years later, the director is the Artistic Director of the New Burbage Theater, churning out increasingly commercial and empty productions of Shakespeare, the actress is bitter that she has grown into playing Gertrude rather than Ophelia, and the actor is chaining himself to the door of his ramshackle warehouse theater to protest being evicted for non-payment of rent.

This is really good, terrific TV. It’s obviously being written by theater people, because I recognize all these people, I recognize the thwarted passion, each and every thing rings absolutely true. There is only the smallest intimation of what happened after that premiere of Hamlet, but I recognize there is heartbreak ahead, and I find myself identifying too closely with the characters. Way too closely. Way, way way too closely.

Yes, I’m sure it lightens up in the second episode. Yes, I’m going to watch it tonight. Yes, I’m still unsure as to what my reaction will be.

This is rather like the time back in the late 80s when I was going through a really terrible patch and was horribly depressed. Clinical, probably, but that’s sort of beside the point. Well, maybe not. Anyway, my best friend Diane – we spent most of the late 80s and early 90s keeping each other sane – brought over Sid and Nancy, recently released on video, to cheer me up.

It made me even more depressed.

But you know, on the other hand? I’ve often remarked that I envied other people’s ability to still be affected by media. This was largely about people who can actually be frightened by horror movies anymore, but the point remains the same: I thought I was jaded and untouchable, but I have to admit Slings and Arrows has, indeed, touched me – just not in the way I expected.

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