Saturday 16 July 2016
A new television show is being advertised on one of the national channels, and it got me thinking. The Durrells is going to be broadcast here in the west after the Olympics, and I’m quite looking forward to it. In part, that’s because the family move from Bournemouth in England to Corfu in Greece, and who doesn’t like to look at the Greek landscape? In part, it’s because I’ve discovered that The Durrells is based upon Gerald Durrell’s three autobiographical books that detail his family’s four years on Corfu. And who doesn’t like to look at the Greek landscape and isles? Did I mention that already?
Back to point. I began thinking about how we seem enamoured with television shows that are set in the past. Mr. Selfridge, Downton Abbey, The Paradise, Indian Summers, The Bletchley Circle, Home Fires, Foyle’s War, Grantchester, Heartbeat, Poirot, Miss Marple, Inspector George Gently, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, The Doctor Blake Mysteries are all shows that have grabbed our viewing attention and been quite successful. What I began to think about was this one question: why is it that we are so taken by shows that are set in the past? To me, there’s one overwhelming reason why we love them.
Simplicity of life.
As devastating as history was in the time some of these shows are set, there is a simplicity in the everyday living of the characters. Life was difficult, undoubtedly, but to some extent, it was also relatively innocent, and yes, simple. It was about survival. It was about living, loving, and getting through. It was about raising a family. And yes, I know that these are things that we strive to do today, but there was something about those times that is lacking now.
There were no cell phones, computers, PDAs, iPods, iPads, Xbox, Playstation, Pokemon, or Candy Crush. No Internet, Social Media, online trolls, Internet scams or fifteen minutes of online celebrity and fame. No reality TV, vacuous celebrities who are famous for being famous, no Jerry Springer or Dr Phil. All of that stuff that sucks energy, attention and intelligence from people was yet to be created. Oh sure, there were other things that took people away from their lives – war, gambling, drinking, jobs – and yes, that stuff takes people away from their lives now too. However, I can’t help but think that the lack of computer and Internet technology makes everything just that lil bit simpler.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I love gadgets. I love things that make our lives easier to live, but there’s something fundamentally wrong with our lives when those gadgets and that technology takes us away from where we really should be – living. Not just surviving. Not just getting by. Actually living. That’s what we’re missing.
We’re so invested in modern technology that we’re utterly dependent upon it for almost everything in our lives. And that’s not considering medical technology, for example, it’s just everyday tech that I’m referring to here. If it’s not tech that we’re heavily invested in, it’s our work. We bust our humps day after day trying to get enough money to pay off exorbitant mortgages, car loans, student loans, and bills. Again, yes, they had that in the past too, but we seem to be so much more absorbed by work.
There’s been a shift in society. We want and expect more than anyone ever has, and we want it all now. And I think that the TV shows that I mentioned at the start of the post are an escape to a time that I think we believe to have been better. We long for the ability to throw our jobs in and move to an island to start again in simpler way. We long for fifteen minutes without someone bugging us on our cell phones or via email or Social Media. We long for our jobs to really be nine to five, and to not have to work overtime because we have online access at home to our work environments. We crave simplicity but there are things we aren’t prepared to give up in order to achieve that. Those TV shows give that to us. We get a lil slice of the simpler life when we watch them, and it keeps us going until the next week when we get our next hourly installment.
It’s a theory. Of course, it could just be that we enjoy them so much because they’re so well written, acted, and produced, or because they’re actually good quality shows, or because they’re entertaining. Nah, I like my theory better . . . at least, for the moment. 😉