Posted in Art & Pop Culture

Bored to Death

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There is a chunk of time every day, between the girl’s bedtime and the boy’s, when I am essentially alone in my house. My husband is upstairs, reading stories to the boy and getting him situated. I have between fifteen and thirty minutes to myself.

A lot of people would use this time productively. Me, I sit downstairs in my easy chair, usually with the dog on my lap, and I watch TV.

Mostly I watch things my husband wouldn’t like. Orange is the New Black. The Gilmore Girls revival. Independent films, broken into awkward chunks. Sometimes I slide into ruts and put Bob’s Burgers on repeat or run through old seasons of Face Off. Sometimes I watch the same few episodes of Futurama more times than flatters me to admit, but I feel like I have to because maybe you’ve been here, too: that place where you’re beyond bored but for whatever reason (exhaustion, depression, Mommy brain, all of the above) you can’t or don’t even want to knock yourself out of it–you’re essentially bored to death.

That’s how I felt when I attended a play date where the conversation turned to TV and movies. We were talking about Wes Anderson films, and one of my friends didn’t know who Jason Schwartzman was. We were rattling off what roles we could remember (we are apparently Luddites, because none of us thought to whip out our phones) and someone mentioned Bored to Death. I’d never heard of it, but based on the title, it seemed like this show was for me, and as a fan of Jason Schwartzman’s, I had to know more.

Bored to Death is available on Amazon Prime. I’m not going to lie to you–there’s a reason you can watch it for free. There’s a reason it only ran for three seasons. But when it came to me, it felt like a blessing. I had been in such a rut, simply finding and watching a new TV show had felt like a Herculean effort. But this one dropped right in my lap, along with a friend’s recommendation. I kind of had to watch it–what excuse did I have? So I suppose it was my friend, really, and the desire to talk to her about the show she recommended, that pulled me up out of my rut and got me watching something new. It probably seems completely insignificant, but that kind of change can snowball. There’s a new stream of information coming into your brain, into your life, and even if it shifts your perspective by only a single degree, it’s rerouted you, and you never know where this new course will take you.

Who knows where Bored to Death is taking me. Like I said, it’s not genius. I feel like I shouldn’t like this show. The characters are fairly flat, the stories are somewhat uninspired, and I might be being kind to say it borders on misogyny. But somehow, I find it comforting. Maybe because it’s about a writer and I can relate to that, though the character almost never writes (though I can relate to that, too). Our main character, Jonathan, (Schwartzman) decides to offer his services on Craig’s List as an unlicensed private detective, and he bumbles through cases while trying to keep up with his two narcissistic, silly and shallow friends (Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis), who eventually become involved in his escapades. As Jonathan’s girlfriend says in season one, “You live in a shallow fantasy world.”

That’s what I like about this show.

A lot of TV gives the viewer the opportunity to live in a shallow fantasy world. Maybe most of it. But this show is a fantasy within a fantasy. Its characters are nearly always drunk and/or stoned. They have little to no responsibility. They have episodic adventures, rarely extending beyond thirty minutes of TV time, and the few relationships they have outside their triad are taken very lightly. If they feel something negative, they don’t have to nurse a child or feel responsible for another life–they can easily go numb.

Wouldn’t that be lovely?

I like this show because it is the opposite of my life. True escapism. So much of what I watch is heavy, emotional, pseudo-intellectual, conflicted. Even Futurama contains a thousand geeky references and the occasional tear-jerker. Bob’s Burgers is wacky, but it does confront real family problems. The world of Bored to Death is simple. Even when it attempts relationship stories, nothing seems so important. It’s fun and funny (I get the biggest kick out of Ted Danson’s character, though if I met him in real life I would most certainly want to punch him repeatedly), and you know they say that laughter is the best medicine. Seratonin and all that.

So I guess I’m saying, especially if you’re in a rut and you feel the need for a little silly fun, especially if you like detective novels or Ted Danson or crazy inappropriate comic books or white wine, you should hop on Amazon and stream a couple episodes of Bored to Death. Maybe you’ll like it. And maybe you can recommend something else for me to watch in those fifteen free minutes a night, because I’ve watched all three seasons of this one.

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4 thoughts on “Bored to Death

  1. I will check it out. I just finished watching The Office. I know, I know – where have I been? But I don’t typically get into shows when they are fresh and new, with the exception of OITNB. Missing you, my friend!

    1. I’m the same way (mostly) (esp. w/OINTB). I still haven’t finished Mad Men. I keep meaning to go back to it, but each episode is so long and it’s not particularly light. I find, after a rough day of parenting, that I want two things out of a show: levity and the fact that the kids would hate it.

      1. Hence why I’m such a Family Guy and American Dad fanatic. I need mindless TV at the end of the day!

        BUT! One series on Netflix that I would like you to check out is Oliver Stone’s Untold American History (or something like that). Because we took history together back in the day, I’m interested to get your thoughts on some of the insights he shares. Okay, okay, it’s not light, but I think you will like it. I’m certainly enjoying it.

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