March 2, 2005

Plato and The Gilmore Girls

In the Republic, Plato worries about the moral and mental health of actors who play bad, weak, or crazy people. His concerns are not contemporary; actresses can't wait to shed the "good girl" image. Yet, watching The Gilmore Girls last night, I got the point. The people on that show, like those in Northern Exposure and Friends and MASH , are all trying to be good. When they succeed, it looks wonderful. When they fail, their trying saves them from utter disaster. I thought about how much fun it would be to play a character braver, smarter, funnier, nicer than oneself -- how much fun it is to watch such characters.

The 50s got it right, with their tv trays and popcorn. Television is, among other things, food: strength for the journey, a little bit of extra push toward doing the right thing, the hard thing, the creative thing, the kind thing. There is an unbroken tradition of fine shows that take that responsibility seriously. Compared to all the expensive and dangerous drugs routinely prescribed to medicate wobbly psychologies, this is tame and safe and it works some of time. People get a regular fix of decency, and then go out to face the world.

Posted by shea0017 at March 2, 2005 8:48 AM