Speaking of Current Events in TV is vital

Speaking of Current Events in TV is vital

I was watching tv tonight, my typical late Saturday binge of Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy, and I realized something. Speaking to current events in television is so very important. In fact, it’s vital to the chronicle of our history.

Television has been strange in 2020 once things started up again this fall. What were we to expect? How would our favourite shows handle the pandemic, or would they even acknowledge it? Do we even want them to?

I did. I do. I believe that when we have things in our country that need to be talked about the first thing that needs to happen is get the perspectives out there. Get the characters that we know and love talking about it, even if what they say surprises us or challenges our own beliefs. It is that challenge that opens minds and brings new perspective to our worlds just as reading a book can or seeing a movie. Letting ourselves experience current events through the eyes of our favourite (or least favourite) characters can be cathartic. It can be educational. It can be necessary to better understanding of incredibly important issues that get missed because we are tired of the news, or because we cannot see both sides.

Unfortunately, of the hit and miss spectacle of television out there, it is more miss than hit. I get it. Ratings. The comfort of the Actors. The comfort of the writers, producers, etc. felt more important this summer when things looked better, and hope warred with the information coming from health professionals saying, ‘it is going to get so much worse’. Some shows chose to gloss over it. Address it, but do so lightly, and then move past with token moments that acknowledge what is going on outside your living room. Others moved passed it entirely to the future time when COVID-19 will, they hope, be a distant memory. Some, like historical dramas, could not address is, but ironically, many of those have had messages about it, an acknowledgement by the actors and writers involved. And a few, a very precious few have faced the Pandemic head on.

Tonight, as I watched the fall finale for Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy, I found me self strangely comforted by their boldness, when they should not need to be considered bold. They are facing not only the pandemic, but also the racism that has plagued our country for far too long. They are not just talking about it, acknowledging it, but standing up, standing their ground, and discussing it, bringing it to the attention of anyone watching in such a way that you cannot ignore it if you’re going to keep watching. 

There have been times over the years where I have tired of Grey’s Anatomy, or maybe just lost interest temporarily, but I often tune back in. I am a writer at heart who loves a good story told well. When it counts, when it really counts, they often deliver. This fall both Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 have not only delivered, but they challenge people watching to face fears, to talk about them. They are getting important information out about what things are really like and why health professionals have been trying so hard to get the people in this country to listen.  They have given respect and dignity to the memories of those we have lost through stories that mirror that of so many in this country. And I am grateful for this.

I am grateful, because the television that we watch will one day be a chronicle of our history for others. Yes, there will be news stories. Yes, there will be videos and so many other things. But these shows bring the human element to it and they do so unapologetically.

Are they difficult to watch? So difficult at times that I must pause and walk away. Are they completely accurate—they so extremely hard and the science, the information is there. They even debate the information much as scientists, doctors and first responders have throughout the pandemic. If they get it wrong, they adjust, and it is believable, and worthy. Are they perfect? Of course not, it is still fiction, but it is a much more palatable bit of fiction that the fantasy world that so many other shows are displaying. The heart-breaking aspect of these other shows is that they are actually further the distrust in the population that politics sowed. Why should you wear a mask if the people in your favourite Chicago show are not? The hesitancy of some television shows to address the difficult issues in our current world is one of the reasons so many of the problems exist.

This year, this incredible, terrible, frightening, amazing year should not be ignored by the shows and characters we hold close to our heart. Embracing it, is so important to our history. The shows that do, will be the ones that we remember years from now. They will be what sparks memories and stories we will tell our children’s children. They will remind us of those we lost and those we saved. Watching the ones who don’t hide from the current events of 2020, 2021 and probably 2022 will allow us to process it, and remember, so hopefully, we don’t make the same choices that put us in such a terrible place.

And, yes, maybe there are some who will stop watching these shows all together, and others who can not watch them right now, but will later, when it’s not quite so frightening go back and watch them, or even some who will continue with the show when it’s moved on. We make our choices and those are ours. But history will look back and archive these choices, and because a small few chose to stand, the children in our future will see a glimpse of what 2020 was really like and that some of us DID fight and discuss and attempt to keep an open mind.

And if just a small handful watch these shows and finally understand, then they have done more service to this country and the path toward healing and a brighter future than any of the others together.

I hope that you can find something reassuring in the coming days, something that brings you hope for the future and an understanding of how things currently stand.

Most of all, as I close this up and get my self to bed, I hope you are well. I hope you have happiness in your days ahead. I hope you are safe.

Galen S. Skye

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