Automated E-mail, like road construction, is best done at night. While this notion is lost on many city governments across the country, E-commerce companies from every corner of the Internet embrace it wholeheartedly. They have thusly transformed the first hours of the day for nearly everyone with an internet connection or smart phone. My mornings used to look like this:
- Wake up
- Get dressed
- Go home
- Eat cereal out of pasta pot with Taco Bell spork
- Watch Sportscenter
Since those wonderful days I found a wife, a real job, a bowl, and a metal spork. Now my mornings look like this:
- Sadly hum Sportscenter theme to myself
- Check E-mail
Despite the many changes to my routine, none has more potential to impact my day than checking the E-mail I receive overnight. The first Blackberry glance of the day holds within it all the promise for the day . Maybe I’ll buy a Living Social voucher for a Meet and Greet with the last living midget from Willow. May be I’ll book a Groupon Getaway for an weekend trip to . You never know what ridiculous opportunities might be presented to you. While Groupon, Amazon, and Living Social don’t always send gems like the ones above, there is one morning E-mailer that never fails to excite. Netflix.
The incoming DVD alert from Netflix is not always a joyous read. Sometimes you begin your day feeling stupid because Netflix is sending you I Know Who Killed Me. This disappointment is the result of . It occurs when you forget to update your queue or fail to remove movies you added while . Other times the Netflix E-mail can elicit a series of complicated emotions, none of which Lindsay Lohan is capable of portraying.
This was the case today when I received, “For Fri: The Wire: Season 5: Disc 4”.
For the uninitiated, this disc contains only one episode–the finale of the most compelling television show ever. Tonight, I will sit down on my couch with my wife and watch the series finale of The Wire.
I have no idea how I feel about it.
When I say “I have no idea” I simply mean I cannot pick a single emotion to define my state of mind because I am experiencing many. Why this occasion elicits an emotional response at all is something we’ll address a bit later on.
On one hand I am excited to see how all of the show’s intertwining stories will end. I have a great number of questions which I hope will be answered.
Will Marlo and Chris get convicted?
Will Templeton get exposed?
How completely screwed is McNulty?
On the flip side, part of me is quite sad the show is ending. Knowing I won’t spend a few hours each week on Baltimore’s West Side is disappointment only Beadie and McNulty’s ex-wife can know.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite blessed to have gotten into the show after all the seasons had aired as opposed to watching them as they were shown on HBO. I only had to wait a few days for the fifth and final season to arrive. Dutiful fans of The Wire were tortured and forced to wait two years at the time. While the series originally aired between 2002 and 2007, my wife and I plowed through all five seasons in 9 months. That doesn’t seem all that impressive until you consider that The Wire is a true hour-long show, making its 60 episodes equivalent to almost 85 episodes of a network show like House. That’s a lot of time and effort especially considering that The Wire isn’t exactly an . It’s compelling, but . Now that it is ending, I feel a sense of accomplishment, but also regret. I think of all the Saturdays we plowed through 5 or 6 episodes together. Thinking back on those days, I realize we were chugging Dom Perignon when we should have savored each drop. Do I regret those marathon sessions? Not in a million years? I simply wish I could keep the experience going. Tonight will be like closing time at Disneyland. Your legs are tired, and your wallet is empty, but you’d kill just to ride Splash Mountain one last time.
How we got into The Wire in the first place is an interesting story. When I was churning out columns last summer in advance of launching Spectavius, I got an idea for a piece called “Getting in Late”. The idea was that many people like me had never seen any of what are widely considered the best four television shows of all time. In no particular order, they are: The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and Mad Men. My plan was to watch the first disc of the first season of each of these shows to find out which was the most compelling. The day I finished the final episode and began writing, Chuck Klosterman posted this on Grantland.com. I was more happy than mad. On one side, I was excited to be thinking along the same lines as one of the . On the other, I was also happy to have been introduced to these shows. While I give all the credit in the world to Mad Men, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad, The Wire stood head and shoulders above them even if I couldn’t put my finger on the exact reason why.
Reminiscing about the time I’ve spent with these characters got me thinking about our relationship with televisions shows. While it is clear to anyone with a DVR that an attachment between viewer and TV character forms over time, what isn’t clear is why. The same attachment isn’t really developed with movie characters. I enjoy going to the theater and catching a movie as much as anyone, but I wouldn’t say that I become attached to any one character in the film. That’s when I realized that movie characters are like statues in a museum. You visit them. You admire them. They can inspire and impress, but the relationship is fleeting. Sure you can go back time and time again to that museum, but there is no motivation for you to and put it in your house. You are comfortable with the distance between you and the art. Television, on the other hand, is like a painting you buy to hang in your home. It may be mass-produced and in no way one-of-a-kind, but you enjoy it nonetheless. You are comfortable seeing it everyday, and it, in many ways, is a thread in the fabric of your everyday life. The painting is not the highlight of each and every day, but its constancy and aesthetic appeal can be comforting, joyful, and uplifting in the right moment. In the same way, TV characters aren’t just admired from afar. You let them into your home and your life. You hang out with them and develop a relationship. The better the portrayal of the characters and the deeper the story between them, the more devoted your relationship becomes. Much like a painting, you would notice and be affected if that relationship was . Staring at the blank space on the wall where it used to hang would force you to think about not only the painting but your relationship to it.
And that’s where I will be tomorrow. The Wire will come down and a blank spot will linger in its place. I’m sure I’ll eventually find a to connect with, but while that show might be equally compelling/entertaining/inspiring, I doubt I can or will be as attached to it and its characters as I am to The Wire. As with all things though–television included–I hope I am wrong.
For now, I am still riding high on this wave of anticipation. If I were a stronger man, I might wait for a special occasion to watch the Finale, like someone might save an expensive bottle of wine for the right moment. But I’m not that guy. Tonight I will gluttonously feast then be immediately filled with . But tomorrow is a new day, and who knows what the world might .
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