It started when I was younger with the young adult books that I would check out from the library. The Babysitters Club was one of my favorite book series because the girls had this incredible bond of friendship and they each led such a unique and creative life. They had each other to lean on in good times and bad and they made one another feel special. That was the first time I can remember wishing I had real friends like these fictional ones. Of course, I had my twin sister Jamie, who is and always will be my best friend and forever bond, but when fictional life eclipses the grandeur of real life, you kind of want to stay retreated into the pages of a good book. The very same goes for television with characters and storylines that play out on-screen. Why live in reality when you can paint the New York skyline red with the sexy and provocative ladies of Sex and the City or share some coffee with your favorite Friends at Central Perk? Through television you could live in a quaint town full of lovable oddballs, leap tall buildings in a single bound like a superhero, take risks and throw caution to the wind, relive the past or make an all new future, find romance in the most unlikeliest of places, etc. The escapism that outlets like books, movies, and television provided made me realize that some of my best friends were fictional characters.
You're never alone when you have fictional friends you can relate to or escape with. Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, Dawson's Creek and Veronica Mars made life feel like it was full and possibilities were endless. Whenever you would watch an episode you had an all new drama or adventure each week that you were sucked into and had to solve or get through, but you did it all together as a group. You wanted to share laughs with Lorelai Gilmore as your cool mom and to fawn over a good book with Rory Gilmore at Luke's Diner. You wanted to be in the thick of the fight with Buffy Summers and the Scooby Gang because they were strong and fierce and you could be independent and mighty if you were a part of the team. You were heartbroken every time Dawson Leery faced an obstacle and wanted to console him. You rooted for the moment that either Dawson and Joey Potter, or Dawson and Jen Lindley, or even Pacey Witter and Joey would take things past the realm of friendship. You longed for the father-daughter bond that came so easily between Keith and Veronica Mars. You felt the harsh and sharp sting of sarcasm, laced with a little bit of love, whenever Veronica would make a cutting or sharp quip at Logan Echolls while they metaphorically danced with witty banter. These special relationships, bonds, ideas of romance and heroism that stick with you all of your life come from the fantasies that played out on-screen week after week. You learned a deep or hard lesson and you took away love, laughter and heartache with them.
Television is our safety, our constant. Much like reality and real relationships, we can't always count on it not to hurt us. Just like our own selves, these characters have flaws. No one lives a perfect life, not even a fictional television character, no matter which pair of rose-colored glasses you wear to watch. These characters should not be written any other way because these flaws are what help blur the lines between reality and fiction. They are what helps us feel like who we are and what we can become. They don't have to be interchangeable. It is a gift and a curse all in one, but it is what humanizes those in fiction. It reminds us that perfect is an idea and a concept that no matter how much we believe, doesn't exist in either realm. Death, love and rebirth are all themes we can't escape in reality or fiction.
Reality is a very harsh world to face, especially when you feel alone. The comfort you feel when you tune all of that out and immerse yourself in television allows you to leave that behind. In that moment you are someone else. You are more than you thought you were or could be. You have someone to count on and someone can count on you. Television is what grants us a glimpse into a life a little less ordinary. You allow yourself to be vulnerable and effected by what plays out on-screen. We keep our guards up every day of our lives, but in a glimmering thirty minute or hour time period we allow ourselves to let our guard down. It's not something we have to even struggle to do. It becomes automatic. You sit down, watch television and suddenly everything else fades away including the barriers that we all fight so hard to keep up.