Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dorky Television

My wife and I recently visited her family in South Texas and had several conversations with family and friends about television watching habits. While there was some overlap of the shows we liked and the shows others liked, one thing became devastatingly clear: Brooke and I are complete dorks. We watch all of the Dork shows and very few mainstream shows.

Here is a list of our current and recent dorky shows that we love that all fall into the sci-fi/fantasy genre.
Lost
Battlestar Galactica
Caprica
Alias
Fringe
Dollhouse
Firefly
True Blood

In a conversation on the way back from vacation, we came to the following conclusion about why we are such dorks. It is because we are both intense lovers of story, of myth. Story and myth can convey many truths that science and fact cannot (see my last post on Lost). The sci-fi/fantasy genre can convey these truths because they are not bound by the modern "fact only" mindset. In this genre one can bend the rules and allow typically mythological elements that are not acceptable in other genres. For example, your run of the mill crime or hospital drama has no place for a mythological figure like a Jacob from Lost or for a perfectly humanoid robot like the skinjob Cylons on Battlestar Galactica or the 15th century prophet figure Milo Rambaldi from Alias. These mythological elements help the creators tell stories that are not possible in other genres and often allow these shows to communicate truths more profoundly than in other, more fact bound, genres.

Consider some of the greatest stories in Western Literature: The Illiad, The Odyssey, Dante's Divine Comedy, The Lord of the Rings, the German Faust, Paradise Lost, Alice in Wonderland. Consider also some films that also carry truth through a mythological framework: The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Star Wars Trilogy, The Matrix Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, V for Vendetta, Lady in the Water. All of these stories conveyed their truth and message through a mythological framework.

It is not that one cannot tell a great story without a mythological framework, it is just that mythological stories touch the listener in a way unlike more fact bound stories and are often able to communicate truths that effect him or her in a different and profound way.

So, though I am a Dork, as revealed by my TV watching habits, I a proud to be one.

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