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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Monday, February 23, 2009

This All Is Family

It's been a while since I listened to this broadcast from Radio Open Source, but I remember one thing from it: guest Martha Bayles talks to a lot of folks in distant lands about American TV, and finds that one popular overseas TV trend is shows, like Friends and Sex in the City, which feature characters who aren't deeply involved in family. In many cultures you live with your extended family, and that family remains central to your daily reality; the American fantasy of Individualism distanced from family is as intriguingly alien and escapist to them as The Lord of the Rings. But when Bayles asks them if they'd like to live that fantasy their answer is "Ooooooh no! That may be fine for Americans, but it's not for us."

This intrigues me because I don't care for Friends or Sex in the City, while the two shows I'm most passionate about are Arrested Development and Big Love, both of which are about total immersion in family matters. AD is a farce about a monstrous family, while Big Love is a nuanced but largely affirmative look at family in all its complexity. I'm particularly intrigued by the way Big Love's polygamous family serves as an objective correlative of any family's complex dynamics.

I guess my interest in family-themed TV can all be traced back to my childhood love of The Dukes of Hazzard. I believed that Daisy Duke was simultaneously cousin and wife to both Duke Boys. Mom tried to persuade me that it couldn't possibly be that way, but I remain convinced. In my private cosmology the Sawney Bean-ish clan in Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the inbred offspring of Daisy, Bo and Luke. Nigglers will point out that Hazzard was unleashed years after Chainsaw, but I saw Chainsaw nearly two decades after I delighted myself with my little General Lee windup car, so for me the chronology more or less tracks.

Apologies for not italicising Big Love or Arrested Development the way I did Friends and Sex in the City, but it should come as no surprise to my regular browsers that I was too lazy to keep pressing the italicization button.

A No-Prize to the first person to figure out the cheap pun in this post's title.


FLT3 said...

Was it a play on "All In The Family?"

BTW, as one with a lifelong "Gilligan's Island" fascination, I understand the attraction to a family dynamic in tv shows...maybe Big Love and AD address the same need...just in a darker, more serious way, and without falling coconuts or banana cream pies...

Aaron White said...

I didn't even see the "All in the Family" angle! So well spotted, but that wasn't the angle I was thinking of...

Matthew said...

I wont even chime in on the pun, cuz I have no clue. Just gotta say that I am starting to enjoy occasionally checking on my old firends musings. You are becoming more and more nuanced with age (as are I suppose we all) and I have to say even your navel gazing is fascinating. Not "drop everything and reevaluate my life" fascinating, but at least "is there life on mars" fascinating. I too have started the facebook thing, and beg patience of all my friends.

Aaron White said...

Okay, the pun is rooted in a line from Texas Chainsaw 2: The saw is family." Pretty wack pun, huh? I shouldn't have mentioned it.. But thanks, Matthew!