My first experience with watching Saturday Night Live clips was at the family computer in 2008. I was in eighth grade and my dad shows me Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and John McCain as himself selling merchandise on QVC. I still remember some of the items from the sketch: a Joe Six Pack Doll and Palin 2012 t-shirts and of course, Fey delivering one of the infamous “I can see Russia from my house” lines. This was the age where I am finally able to understand and appreciate the humor of the show and when my eyes are finally opened to the adult world of comedy.
When I look back to my first experiences with watching “adult” shows, I remember Seinfeld. When I was seven years old, I watched those reruns almost every single night. My parents knew exactly when to hit mute and when to say I would have to watch the next episode when I was older. As soon as I was able to understand and appreciate the humor of any show my parents loved, they let me start watching it. Friends, Arrested Development, Cheers… all of these were introduced to me by my parents. I experience joy and laughter when I watch television and nothing else. Little did I realize, I was one of a rare breed.
Way too often I fall victim to the inquiries about my television habits.
“You don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy?”
“But you’ve seen Scandal right?”
“You HAVE to watch This Is Us!”
“Not even Game of Thrones?!”
Look. I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch these shows. I am just saying that my personal preference is not to spend my very little free time crying in front of a screen. I don’t enjoy watching a medical crisis (unless of course it’s on Scrubs) or political drama (except for Seasons 4 and 5 of Parks and Recreation). I don’t want to see family drama–I have my own family for that. I personally do not want to use up my time when I am supposed to be escaping from my troubles in the world glued to a screen watching stories that are supposed to make me cry, fear for the characters, or tug at my heart strings. I have enough of that in my own life.
I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I want to be happy and smiling as much as humanly possible. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be able to enjoy this kind of programming because frankly, I am running out of shows to watch. I have Netflix AND Hulu. I have seen so many comedy specials. I have an opinion on almost every sitcom produced in the last ten years. I have a favorite SNL cast member from any given time period.
I should take the time to emphasize that I’m not against human stories. Some of the best story lines I have watched have been the death of Marshall’s dad on HIMYM, Gretchen’s struggle with depression on You’re the Worst (seriously go watch that), and any and all of Rebecca’s mental health issues on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Comedy does not have to be absurdist or unrealistic. Finding the humor even in sadness is one of the most human things we can do.
My beliefs may be extreme, but comedy is an integral part of who I am. I don’t want to spend any of my time feeling sad for a fictional character. Life is dramatic and terrible enough as it is, so I’m going to laugh as much as I can.