by Julian Spivey
I have a DVR filled with mostly dramas that I desperately need to watch before they pile up into an insurmountable number that will make television watching seem more like a chore than fun. I had planned on watching a bulk of these dramas – almost all of them cop or crime shows – on Friday night, when both my wife and I could stay up late and eliminate a good chunk of DVR space.
Then around 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon while walking my dog around the neighborhood I started to see tweets about a shooting at a Paris restaurant. The tweets quickly started to mention explosions heard outside of a soccer stadium during a live match between France and Germany, as well. I decided to forgo a second trip around the block to go inside and watch the breaking news on CNN. Unfortunately, the situation only got worse with a massacre at a concert from the American rock group Eagles of Death Metal that turned into a multiple hour long hostage situation and ended with over 100 dead, the bulk of those killed in this terrorist attack that ISIS has reportedly taken credit for.
The next thing I knew I had been following the tragic news out of Paris for over four hours. My head was aching from the horror of it all. I had seen a Variety report online that the broadcast networks were considering preempting their regularly scheduled primetime programming to broadcast coverage of the Paris attacks. I didn’t feel like that was a good decision. The cable news networks had the story covered as well as they could and CBS, NBC and ABC adding on would just be more dissemination of the exact same updates. Paris was the biggest story, no doubt, but I felt like it was right for the networks to offer families a respite from the tragedy for a few hours and let them watch “The Amazing Race” and “Blue Bloods” or “Last Man Standing” and “Dr. Ken” or “Grimm” like they would every Friday night. The cast and crew of “Undateable,” a NBC comedy that airs all of its episodes live did decide to forgo its episode for the night, which was probably appropriate. Otherwise the networks wisely chose to stay with regular programming.
Some of us just needed an escape from the pain. I turned off the television and talked my wife into going out for some ice cream after our dinner. We loaded the dog into the car and all went out. Even ice cream and our first listen of Eric Church’s new album Mr. Misunderstood, which had arrived in the mail earlier that day, couldn’t really keep me from thinking about the attacks or from keeping up with them on Twitter on my phone.
When we returned home we watched the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Phoenix, like we would do on many Friday nights throughout the year. It was an action-packed race that actually served me well in keeping my attention off of the tragedy for a little while.
But after the race ended the TV returned to the news, MSNBC this time just for hopefully different information, it was all the same except for the rising death total.
I needed to watch those dramas. Multiple episodes of “NCIS,” “Blue Bloods,” “Castle” and “The Blacklist” all piled up there on the DVR. But, I knew what would happen during those episodes. Fictional people would be shot and murdered in graphic ways and I couldn’t bring myself to watch even fake dead bodies and fake graphic blood spray on this night. And, so we watched nothing but hours of sitcoms for the few hours before we went to bed: “The Muppets,” “Modern Family,” “Grandfathered,” “The Grinder,” “Last Man Standing,” “Dr. Ken” and “The Mindy Project.”
I didn’t mention anything to my wife about not wanting to watch dramas after such a horrific night because I didn’t want to see dead bodies wrack up on fictional television programs. I don’t know whether or not if she wondered why we were on such an epic comedy binge when we had so many dramas on the DVR needing to be watched. She might have felt the same exact way as I, though she’d been saved from the hours of horrific news watching due to finishing up her shift at work.
The comedies were exactly what I needed. I laughed a few times throughout each one and was able to forget about the horror in Paris for a few hours before finally making myself so tired I may have nodded off a few times while watching “Dr. Ken” to end the night. I slept about as well as I could – I don’t sleep very well period, anyway.
Then I woke up this morning to an even higher death toll and misguided bigotry spattered all over the Internet at a group of individuals that have no more to do with terrorism than we do. It was nice to get away for a few hours on Friday night and even laugh a bit, but the real world – which is a mighty scary and disappointing one – will always find you fast the next day.