Monday, May 15, 2006

community (again)

Last night my wife and I, along with a gazillion other watchers, got to experience the first half of the season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy”. That’s what their doing now, splitting the finale up into two episodes. The cynical side of me says it’s for revenue, but the practical side of me sees it as a more powerful magnetic attraction into the lives of the characters in the show. Last night was the lead in or the hook into the main event. It’s a good plan I think. The characters in this community that we’ve all come to be concerned with, at least those of us delusional enough to think that they’re real, are all in some kind of crisis or dilemma mode leading into tonight. No one wants to be left hanging. We all want to know how their lives unfold before they become seasonal reruns. They have become a magnetic community. The two part thing is a great idea, however, it now creates an even greater dilemma for my wife and I. It’s on at the same time as our other community of choice, “The Apprentice”. We have come to appreciate and disdain people on this community as well. If it was the finale of “The Apprentice” this week there would be no conflict. I think that the creators of “The Apprentice” have made a grave error in formulating their finale. I’m sure that they’re concerned that I’m concerned. However, here is my point. I think that they’ve ruined the community feel by allowing their community to be infiltrated by a live studio audience. This is perhaps, I believe, where “The Donald’s” ego gets the best of him. He wants it to be a spectacle, a big event, a media blitz. I, however, want my community. I’ve been led to believe, through editing, close-ups, and interchanges, that this is a real living, breathing community, but in the end I’m reminded that it’s just a show. It’s reality television. It’s a staged event, and I’m not interested in that. I’m disappointed. I’m not happy that someone has ruined the illusion, or delusion, that for 13 weeks has lulled me into thinking that it’s a real community that I have been part of. So I don’t watch the finale of “The Apprentice”. I will watch “Grey’s Anatomy”. I have watched the finales of other communities that I have come to be part of like “Seinfeld”, “MASH”, “E.R.”, and others. I’ve come to realize that the television shows that has appealed to me throughout my viewing years have been those which created community and drew me in to be part of them. I always felt like I was part of it. I still do, no matter how long any one of them might have been in syndication. They have never dropped the curtain and ruined the illusion, much like the unveiling of “the Wizard” for Dorothy and company.
I live in my own community. It operates week to week, sometimes day to day when it’s going well. It’s centered around faith. I love being part of it. I just spent three days in intense community with about 75 of us at a retreat. I wonder about our draw. Would people be drawn in by what they see in us? Would they come back for another week?
Is there a curtain around us, that if drawn back, would spoil everything? New people come every week. Some of them are immediately drawn in, some not so much. I guess that I’m hoping that they see us as authentic and not a spectacle. I read statistics that tell me that after a third consecutive visit to a community of faith, people have been drawn in. That’s about how long it takes me to be drawn in to a good television series. By then I care about the characters. By then I feel like I’m becoming part of the community. By then I want to come back another week.

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