I feel awful for sitcom characters and heroes on dramaties, whose lives we enter when everything changes. When just a few hours earlier, before graduation or the entrance of their someday soon lover or some sudden unspeakable tragedy, just a few hours earlier, no one cared.
And in whom we see so much of ourselves. And in who we will invest so much of ourselves. And yes, this is the same equation for icons in books and plays and movies, but those sweet characters have a defined time in which we eavesdrop the most vital moments of their lives, then leave.
But on TV, how it goes on and on with no end in sight. At first, how much we love that initial kiss or wild night or first time they must face unimaginable adversity, that first time they must hide or lie or turn themselves inside out to make it out this one time. We love it. So, we keep watching. And their lives spiral again and again into oblivion, a new love, a next murder, another hair-brained, hair-raising escape. By this time, the character in the movie is dead or changed or back to being boring. But on the small screen they cannot leave, cannot die.
Their lives must become more and more complex and convoluted as long as we watch. Until, before our very eyes, they become unrecognizable, some awful chimera who, had they a lick of sense, would have quit or moved on long ago from this street, this town, this situation.
But we keep them alive, on life support, twisting and turning them over until not a corner is unburnt. And only then, when their pathology and dysfunction has so mutated any scrap of humanity, when even remixes of their old songs do not get us humming, only then do we stop watching, when we are bored with their agony.
And they must somehow pick up these shards of a life, thrice married, convicted, shunned, undead, faltered, fathered, failed, scarred, escaped, embarrassed, permanently disfigured. They must live another fifty years of a life somewhere, left just where we left them, with just what we left them, in eternal agony while we move on. There’s no justice.