Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Real versus Reality

I don't watch too much television. Between my domestic responsibilities, my writing habit, and this weird addiction to sleep I've developed over the course of a lifetime, I don't have the hours to spare.

But there are a couple of shows I've come to like well enough to remember to save on TiVo, and the paranormal thriller MEDIUM is one of them. It airs Monday nights on NBC at 10PM Eastern Standard Time.

Most anything with a spooktacular theme is enough to get my attention for an initial viewing, but MEDIUM is special. Not so much for its paranormal content, although the stories are fascinating and well-wrought, but for the rendering of the relationships.

Its lead, actress Patricia Arquette, is exquisitely believable as Allison DuBois, an Arizona soccer mom with a gift for dreaming of dead people that she uses to help the local District Attorney solve crimes. Arquette--and, by extension, Allison DuBois--LOOKS like a Mommy. She's got the haircut, the wardrobe, and the body type, God bless her. She's got "Mommy arms"--strong from hefting toddlers and bags of groceries, but not necessarily slender or toned. She's got "Mommy hair"--bangs too long and hanging in her eyes, ends slightly fried, because who has time for a salon appointment? And she wears "Mommy clothes"--an ugly-assed bathrobe over the tee-shirts and sweats she wore to bed the night before, and boxy, non-professionally tailored jackets to work.

Jake Weber--the actor who plays DuBois' husband, Joe--is equally believable as an average guy married to an supernaturally exceptional woman--a Darren Stevens for the new millennium, if you will. He plays the part by turns tender and stern, indulgent and exasperated. I've developed quite the crush on the character, but that may have something to do with the fact that he rather strongly resembles my own husband in both looks and manner.

In fact, the DuBois' marriage so closely mirrors my own in some ways that watching the show is sometimes a little painful. That's how well-written their relationship is--I recognize whole chunks of conversations and arguments from my own life. I've wondered on more than one occasion if the producers have bugged my bedroom and kitchen. Allison's ambivalent connection to her gift and the drive she feels to use it reminds me very much of how I feel about my writing. Joe's frustration with the time and effort Allison's work siphons away from their family life is much in keeping with my husband's feelings about the hours I spend at the keyboard.

And the kids? There aren't many shows out there willing to present kids in an unflattering light and not play it for laughs or make their dysfunction the center of the drama. In this case, the eldest DuBois child just happens to be going through an insufferably bratty stage, and is frequently called on her behavior, but is not made the focus of undue attention. The middle child is quirky, to the tune of being virtually unable to make friends. Gee...we have kids just like that in MY house. How...true to life. *checks under lampshade for bugs ONE MORE TIME*

My point is that while MEDIUM receives kudos for its nifty thriller plots, I think it's the writing of the family connections that make the show. The little details of married life...the pillow talk...the occasional love scene that can still be sexy, even if the participants aren't model-perfect specimens and have known each other long enough to produce three children together. It gives me inspiration for setting (non-glamorous) and dialogue (quietly witty) and characterization (strong and down-to-earth), and gives me hope that solid writing can prevail against what's passing for reality these days.


And from the "Offered Without Comment" files:



Blogger Donald Francis said...

I love MEDIUM...but, hey, it's from Glenn Gordon Caron, the greatest TV creator EVER, the man who made MOONLIGHTING...

Ahem. Sorry.

9/21/2005 4:35 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

It's okay, pet. You can gush. I know how you feel about Moonlighting and Bruce and that blonde chick with the shoulders....

9/21/2005 4:39 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

I watch two shows. No, three. Medium, House and Monk.

Your analysis on Medium is dead on. (and your husband seems pretty cute;)

My husband is a House/Monk combo, and we laugh the same way you do and watch for those reasons (though he looks like neither)

As far as the FDA? It should be disbanded. It's nothing but a pocketbook for politicians and lobbyists. That's coming from an insider.

9/22/2005 11:10 AM  

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