So. timprov and I (and occasionally markgritter and Ceej, but it's T's and my thing) have been watching old episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His mom has them all on tape sequentially, so we can just watch the next one whenever we feel like it and not worry about juggling what I'm supposed to know already and what hasn't happened yet in the show's timeline. It is emphatically not a great show. It is entertaining, either to watch or to yell at, from time to time.
Right. So. We watched an episode of DS9 when I was feeling cruddy this weekend that just pointed out what's wrong with TV, to me. I called it "Bajoran Girlfriend-Swapping Holiday" (or "Everybody **** Dax!", but that's not a unique episode identifier). The premise was that Lwaxanna Troi (YARG!) showed up with a disease that made most people in the station unbearably attracted to each other in some combination other than their established relationships. This was later explained as being based on latent, subconscious attractions.
Here's what happened: the only marrige was entirely unaffected. The married couple is entirely monogamous on both a conscious and a subconscious level. This annoyed me the least: it fits with the characterization of these two, and I think it's clear that some married people are attracted to people other than their spouse and some are not. But the fact that there was only one married couple made this feel a good deal more like How Marriage Is than I would have preferred. This is particularly the case because no one who was affected by this virus seemed to be attracted to more than one person subconsciously.
Ditto power stuff: the Commander is entirely unaffected by anyone female beneath him in the chain of command (which is most of the female characters, barring the loathsome Mrs. Troi). We are freed from dealing with any impropriety whatsoever, as the Commander is more machine than man now, twisted and -- oops, sorry, wrong character. Anyway. Not attracted to anybody. This incidentally frees the writers from dealing with a plausible "black man attracted to white woman" relationship, since the Commander's son Jake is 16 and not taken seriously in his attraction to an older female character. (Characters are also only attracted to people roughly their own age. Oh, naturally.)
The rest of the characters kissed and pawed each other in some combinations but were interrupted at crucial moments, before they could do anything that would have to be dealt with between their characters later in the series. Not a single major character had actual sex (by any definition I could think of, even by implication) with anyone else. Despite being so overwhelmed with hormones that their best judgment was impaired. They were hormonal enough to fall all over each other in non-standards combinations, but not enough to...remove any clothing? At all? Some of these people are known to be non-virgins in previous episodes. It seems to me extremely unlikely that they don't know what to do.
Nobody on the entire station, apparently, has any subconscious homosexual leanings. None. Nobody could be any straighter if you drew them with rulers. I believe that evidence suggests that there is a genetic component to sexuality (not that it is all genetics, mind you), and I might find it believable if an alien species didn't have that gene pop up. Maybe. (I'd especially find it believable if it was then presented as the difference between us and them rather than a way we ought to be. If it was more, lookee, them funny aliens aren't queer like us humans. Hoo-ee, are we queer. Queeeeeeerity queer queer queer. Race fulla pervs, we are. If you can think of it, some of us have tried it backwards. It's the glory of our species.) (Ahem. Anyway.) So...yeah. I'm a straight girl. I'm not someone who believes that everybody is bi somewhere deep down. But I certainly believe that lots of people have leanings that way at least as much as they do towards random Trill hos.
All this bugged me because this plot was not forced upon the writers. They chose this plot. And then they chose to rob it of any actual power. Nobody has to deeply regret anything. Nobody has to reconsider relationships they'd previously rejected on a subconscious level (or the ones they'd previously accepted on a conscious level). The viewer gets to watch combinations of characters kiiiiissing and behave like 10-year-old girls: "Oooooh, they're kiiiiiissing! Oh, they're so cute!" And then it's all over with, no messy emotional stuff, no consent or power issues, no identity issues, everybody just fine. They're not going to show ST:DS9: The Porno, and I wouldn't watch it if they did. But this is a show that's previously made abundantly clear by suggestion that some of the characters are having sex, and it's in a franchise that's infamous for the Ripping Of Shirts. (Well, maybe only Shatner's shirt, but that, if anything, should count double for the infamy portion of the scoring.) It could have worked, sort of. But they don't want to think about the difficult parts of sex, just the parts that make 10-year-old girls sigh dreamily.
I think that a big chunk of the real problem is not that they can't show sex on television but that they have trouble dealing with larger plot arcs, especially on an emotional/character-development level. Larger plot arc: we have discovered and are opposed to The Dominion. Pretty simple. Larger plot arc: Julian Liiiikes Dax (Not Reciprocated). Again, not what one would call complex, though I think the actor handles it well. Larger plot arc: Jake grows up, to the Commander's dismay. Hard to get much sitcom-simpler than that. But if you're going to go sitcom-simple, for heaven's sake go with it. Do not come up with plots that cannot be reasonably developed in an hour-long show and then do them inadequately. Do what you're doing well, rather than something else poorly.
I've said before that I didn't watch Farscape because it would have required more energy than I had to make sure I watched it every week, and it had major ongoing plot (or at least gave that impression). I more or less gave up on Monk, which I actively enjoy and whose ongoing plot points were subtle and sort of beside the main point of each episode, because I...forgot. Because if I was going to schedule my week, "Watch TV from 9-10 Friday night" was the absolute last thing to go on the schedule, and usually it got left out.
I may end up getting the DVDs of Farscape and Monk eventually, if I decide I'll watch them occasionally enough to be worth the money. I'm much more ready to watch something if I can wander away and do something else for, oh, say, 6 months. timprov picked DS9 to watch together partly because it has some good moments he enjoyed the first time around, but also because it's readily available with almost no effort on our part. It's a good choice. It entertains both of us, and it's something we can do even when he's feeling most royally cruddy. (Or, as this weekend, when I am.) In case you didn't get it, I like picking apart what bothers me about things like this. There's a fine line between "show I can enjoy picking apart" and "show I get too mad at," but DS9 manages to stay on the former side of the line so far.
Still. Bajoran Girlfriend-Swapping Season. What were they thinking?
Anyway, anyway. I'm going to say this in my other journal in just a minute, too: I appreciate that your journal or weblog is a place to vent, and I don't want to stop you from expressing what you're thinking or feeling about yesterday's election. But I would also really like to hear what else is going on in your life. What are you doing? Reading? Watching? Listening to? Eating? Planning? Looking forward to? What is interesting to you right now besides this specific election? If you're moaning, "Nothing!", please reconsider. Take a walk. Take some deep breaths. Deal with basic things. As matociquala puts it, slop the pigs.
I know: what does it smell like where you are? No election-related metaphors. No metaphors at all. Inhale air and tell me what it smells like. It's probably a strange thing to ask of you, but it's what I'd really like. Tell me what you smell. You can tell me what you think, too, that'd be fine, but start with what you smell. It will make me happy, and it's a good thing to make a Mrissa happy. Trust me on this one, I know best.
Here it smells of humid paper and fresh ink and fallen leaves and unwashed Mris and oatmeal pancakes. Soon it will smell of washed Mris and saffron and tomatoes as well. Now it's your turn.