I have to admit, I am a TV/film buff and not even the classy types who can actually sit and spew a lot of interesting details about the stuff they watch and critique plot lines and characterisations. No, I am the “Ooh, pretty! Sparkly!!”(okay, maybe that’s a bit over simplistic) kinds. I would like to blame this addiction of sorts (I have gone weeks without shows, so not altogether witless) on the fact that I worked at Deluxe Studios for two years and my job comprised of watching shows and films day in and day out. No, I blame my love of reading (fiction, of course) and the advent of the Star TV network in India in the early 1990s… and being banned from watching The Bold and the Beautiful. The second a child is banned from doing something, they must have do it. Okay, so I get the “don’t watch B&B” doctrine. It was so confusing, I couldn’t keep track of the relationship permutations and combinations (and I was good at Math) anyway.
Coming back to the present, I have recently been acquainted with Donald Draper. I should say Mad Men, but no really, Don Draper. Mad Men like the first episode explains was a term coined by the ad men in Madison Avenue. The allure of the show has 80% to do with John Hamm who plays the protagonist of sorts- an ad man. He is sexy, well on a scale of “McDreamy” and “McSteamy” he is “McWhoAreThoseTwo!?”, erudite and impossibly an all consuming, attention grabbing, instantly noticeable in a crowd of a million (exaggerate much?)- MAN. Okay, enough gushing. The show is a combination of the suave, sophisticated, entitled world of advertising in the 1960s, and blatant sexism in the home and work front which annoys and fascinates at the same time – seeing those women trying falling apart in trying to keep themselves beautiful, have perfect children and homes, cook the perfect meal and try working at the same time. Especially with all the crap they have to take from the snickering, often downright repulsive attitude of the men in the office and overbearing “This is my house and I am lord and master.” attitude at home. Without being overly feministic, the show subtlety shows the change in society and the workplace in a way only good television can. Don is an adulterating, selfish, lost man and yet, his confidence at work and the general Cary Grant meets Sean Connery of the early James Bond days persona makes him a complete heel and utterly desirable. Women are just glutton for punishment.
Falling in love with a character in the book you read, the show you follow or film you watch is an intrinsic part of engaging with these medium which only exists because we want a break from the ordinary and the mundane. Occasional disappointments are also part of the deal, especially with films one can’t un-watch, case in point, the recent Greek tragedy inspired not-so-mellow-drama “Heroine.”
Sometimes hating someone is just as intrinsic: The Vampire Diaries. But one is shamefully hooked just the same. A better example, I suppose, is Elementary. It’s a new whodunit series…based on on Sherlock Holmes. I say ‘based on’ loosely and most grudgingly as although the main characters are called Holmes and Watson, they are actually, surely must be John (generic name)son and Nancy Chao (Lucy Liu is NOT Joan(?) Watson.) :-|As a whodunit (and that for the record is my favourite TV genre) it is pretty okay, the cases are clean and simple and have nothing to do with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (thank God as this pair is in New York of all places) and Holmes’ father is a brownstone owing billionaire but as a Holmes spin-off, and I admit even Guy Ritchie’s films are pretty un-Holmsy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman can give them a run for their seductive….deductive powers any day of the week.