Relaxing - a short essay / August 2017

It’s totally not weird, I bet loads of people do it.  Especially if like me, they had the bad luck of being born in the UK having to live out their American teen dreams through television. Specifically, those late 90s / early 2000s TV shows mostly broadcast on the WB network (RIP).  The cinematography is warm and inviting and the dramatic storyline fodder is at maximum. There’s a lo-fi graininess in picture quality which promotes the best kind of nostalgia and makes one feel far superior to those gen-z’ers who take their CGI’d high resolution supernatural, superhero programming as standard. Those lucky kids!  Where were they when the first season of Buffy was on and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stunt double had as much screen time as SMG herself.

Over the past few (eight) years of working and living in London and even now as a recent departee of my twenties - my best and surefire way of relaxing is to dig out the tattered DVD box sets of Dawson’s Creek (the chunky packaging with the fold out sleeves <3) or switch on Netflix and let Gilmore Girls play - “are you still watching?” yes I am Netflix, how extremely judgmental of you.  

Usually it goes like this, on any given weeknight if I’m not hanging out with my boyfriend and don’t have any actual live socialising plans, I’ll get home from work, change immediately into my Wonder Woman pyjamas, put on one of my beloved teen shows and go about my evening.

I’m not really watching them, at this point I’m so au fait with their story beats that it feels like when Lorelai sang ‘I Will Always Love You’ to Luke at that karaoke bar that I was there sipping a white wine at a table down front.  It’s nostalgia, I’m instantly transported back to being thirteen and a time when things weren’t as hard. It’s also comfort, the familiarity of the voices as I’m huddled over the stove making pasta. I’m surrounded by characters I know despite them being celluloid and oh yeah, I don’t actually know these people (actors, Lauren) in real life. It’s routine and a failsafe, and the weirdest thing about it is my ability to watch and listen to the same episodes over and over and not tire of them. Saying that, I wouldn’t subject anyone I know to this ritual.  It’s mine because of the personal connection I feel to these shows and because it might be slightly tedious. Especially the dud episodes and after rewatching as an adult, divorced from the teen brain’s romanticization there are definitely a few!

When I’m cleaning the bathroom hearing the whiny voice of Dawson Leery it reminds me that he really went through some stuff man.  I may be scrubbing chunks of toothpaste off the tiles (my boyfriend has yet to provide an explanation as to how it gets there every time) but things aren’t that bad.  Especially compared to your soulmate dumping you for your charismatic best friend.