We don’t have a past or a future, just an infinite present that makes tomorrow totally harmless. A temporality where nothing extraordinary or too dangerous happens, but there is a price to pay: repetition.
Modern cinema took off with two stares into camera: Harriet Andersson challenged the audience to judge her for her new affair in Summer with Monika (Bergman, 1953), and Jean Seberg did the same thing seven years later in À bout de souffle (Godard), probably a direct quotation of the previous film, when in its last shot she pretended to be something she was not. The look at the camera was thus established as a breach in form, the characters acknowledge their own performative act, related also to a subversion of the social and genre conventions, both women betray their lovers. Cinema would never be the same again, self-consciousness and reflexivity would become the main features of contemporary cinema, from films about the essence of cinema and acting (Persona) to studies of the generic and the thin barrier between reality and fiction disappearing in our current society (Synecdoche New York). Viewer, actor and character converge into one single entity.
In the realm of television, there is no obvious and almighty king. Those days when HBO broadcast The Sopranos or The Wire and they were making history of the medium, transforming TV shows into something deeper, are over. HBO was the king but, nowadays, as the Hound once said: fuck the king!
I need to say goodbye to someone I care about, someone who’s still here, so I’m saying it to you. You were good to me, Kevin, and sometimes when we were together, I remembered who I used to be before everything changed. But I was pretending, pretending as if I hadn’t lost everything. I want to believe it can all go back to the way it was. I want to believe that I’m not surrounded by the abandoned ruin of a dead civilization. I want to believe it’s possible to get close to someone but it’s easier not to. It’s easier because I’m a coward and I couldn’t take the pain, not again. I know that’s not fair, Kevin. You’ve lost so much, too, and you’re strong. You’re still here. But I can’t be, not anymore. I tried to get better, Kevin. I didn’t want to feel this way, so I took a shortcut. But it led me right back home, and do you know what I found when I got there? I found them, Kevin, right where I left them. Right where they left me. It took me three years to accept the truth but now I know there’s no going back, no fixing it. I’m beyond repair. Maybe we’re all beyond repair. I can’t go on the way I’m living… but I don’t have the power to die. But I have to move towards something. Anything. I’m not sure where I’m going, just away. Away from all this. I think about a place where nobody will know what happened to me. But then I worry I’ll forget them. I don’t ever want to forget them. I can’t. They were my family. I think I loved you, Kevin. Maybe you loved me too. I wish I could say this to you instead of writing it. I wish I could see you one last time and wish you well and tell you how much you mean to me. But I can’t. Like I said, I’m a coward. So wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.
Watching television may seem easy, pleasant, a relaxing hobby and (perhaps, someday, if HBO reads our blog) a job, but we have our tough moments too. Not everything is a season finale of Lost, Ruth Fisher making dinner or Claire Underwood with one of her glorious gabardines. If you have been watching TV long enough I’m sure you’ve found in some of these ruthless situations.