So here’s the problem: I am stressed out. Not all the time, and not a debilitating amount, but often enough and powerfully enough that it’s becoming an issue. The news is to blame, mostly. Things are rough out there, divisive and nasty and depressing. Perhaps you’ve heard. And every time I open social media or do, well, anything, I am reminded of it all, and it’s a lot, and… it’s just stressing me out. It got so bad a few weeks ago that I tried to escape the world for a bit by watching the original LEGO Movie, at which point I realized that the bad guy in The LEGO Movie is a character named President Business who has bad hair and uses a militarized police force to try to control people. Even The LEGO Movie is heavy now. It’s not okay.
But this is not about politics, really. I promise. I only led with that because it’s the thing that has been causing me stress. Maybe you’re stressed out, too, but about other things. Maybe your student loan debt is weighing on you, or maybe your new puppy is peeing everywhere, or maybe your job is fraying your nerves all day long, and maybe you just want to sit in front of the TV for a few hours and relax to get your mind off of it all. Perfectly understandable. We’re in this together.
Unfortunately, this brings us to a second problem I’ve been having: Television, my trusted friend, my solace in hard times, my path to a brief little escape from the world, is not very helpful right now. TV, like The LEGO Movie, has gotten pretty heavy lately.
Quick, let’s run down through some of the big, critically-acclaimed current dramas: The Americans is a heart-pounding series about Russian agents trying desperately to protect their cover in America. Black Mirror is a bleak series about how technology is ruining or has already ruined our lives. Three different characters on Halt and Catch Fire have had something resembling nervous breakdowns. Judging only by my Twitter feed and the headlines of recaps, This Is Us appears to be outright emotional terrorism. Westworld and Game of Thrones turn into homework quickly, just to follow along with who did what and why. And The Leftovers, bless its broken black heart, is a series about emotionally shattered people dealing with a Rapture-like event and it is literally teasing its final season with images like this.