I’ve spent a lot of time consuming and studying a lot of fiction. TV, movies, books, comic books, concept albums, bathroom graffiti: the homes of fiction are myriad. I like fiction. It gives me comfort. Realistic fiction has helped me understand how to better interact with the world around me. Genre fiction taught me how to do that without being so goddamn obvious. I relish the tropes. I swim laps in the cliches. Fiction was a friend as a strange child, a depressed teen, and a young adult on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
But I didn’t always appreciate fiction. Or at least, I didn’t realize how much I appreciated it. My attraction to music, and subsequently abandoned path toward music education, was predicated on a love for fiction. Before I understood what teaching actually entailed, I imagined sharing the stories of music, showing children the narratives beneath the notes. I’ve always been drawn to any music that can tell a story, from a Grainger piece built on a folk tune to any number of albums I devoured in my teens that featured the tortured tales of love and hate. I used these musics to define my taste. And in hindsight, it makes sense. I was always searching for that next fix of a story, even if I was projecting onto a piece with no such intentions. But eventually I knew we just weren’t meant to be, and we went our separate ways. Sometimes I worry that I betrayed music, but I hope it understands that it was nothing personal. Music may have been a placeholder for my true love, but the times we shared truly were special.
The first television show I ever loved was Lost. I’ve spent… a lot of time talking about Lost and what it means to me. But it’s really quite simple: I found a story, and equally important, a medium, that suddenly made everything click. A story so pulled like taffy that I could see each individual atom as it made up the whole, observing and noting and making connections, pulling back to see the grand nature of it all. Lost itself worked because of the people. Sure, I saw the archetypes, understood what was going on in a metanarrative sense, but I also saw these people, these intense bits of light glowing so brightly in their own little world. I felt their their love and pain and search for purpose. I’ve connected with few the way I connected with this group of poor souls just trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing on this planet. When Lost ended, I bawled, not just because of the emotionality of the ending, but also because of the reality of the loss, the end of a story that had consumed so much of my life and fundamentally changed me as a person. Honestly, before the end of Lost, I don’t know how much of a crier I was, but Lost made me accept it, embrace it. These days, I’m lucky if I watch an entire week’s worth of television without tearing up once, though the number tends to creep up toward the middle of the single digits. I’m not ashamed. For me, it’s how I experience the story. It’s how I consume the story. It’s putting the story straight into my bloodstream, to become a part of me forever.
Stories mean so much to me, and I want to share that with people. I want to take someone by the hand and show them a story, walk them through what’s happening, not in our line of sight, but in the spaces above and below. I want others to become engulfed and enriched by these stories. I want the world to drown in stories. And yet when someone asks me why I want to write about television, I have a hard time explaining this. Maybe it’s because these feelings are such a fundamental part of who I am that being able to articulate the exact motives takes time, planning. Maybe it’s because I’m scared they won’t understand—not an unwarranted fear, if the hostility I’ve faced for this desire is any indication, though I’d rather not dwell on the negative. But ultimately, I think it’s because I don’t feel like I have to justify myself. Sure, I might change someone’s mind, but about what? I’m not trying to make waves; the work I want to do is for those already on the precipice. And I mean, have you seen the Lost finale? Shit, that’s all the explanation I’ll ever really need.