It started when we were warming up to the phenomena called ‘Cable TV’. There were to the most five channels, three of them were English. My parents thought that it will help their convent-going English-medium-studying son. It did, but not the way they would have imagined. I grew up to become a copywriter; there is no bigger testament to a shipwrecked career 🙂
So I was saying, that it began really early, a time when my other friends still thought Archie’s was a real racy comic, specially the swim suit editions. Anyways, my first sitcom was ‘Wonder Years’, and what a perfect timing it had. I was 10-12 so was Arnold. His geeky friend had his avatar in my best friend of that time whose name I dare not disclose. His trials and tribulations were mine too. His crushes inspired me to go up to an undisclosable girl in my school and pour my heart out. There were so many stark similarities that I started living as Arnold. And boy, was I in love with Gwendolyn “Winnie” Cooper or what, so much so that I never told my friends about her. I knew they will not respect what me and her shared 🙂
It was followed by many more like, ‘Who’s the boss’, ‘Different Strokes’, ‘I dream of Genie’, ‘Silver Spoons’, ‘Full House’, ‘3 Stooges’, ‘Doogie Houser MD’ et al. You all know what I am talking about don’t you? You have seen one or all of them yourself. I grew up seeing myself somewhere in those characters, living a life I wanted to live, in a city that didn’t give you any opportunity to be anything else.
By this time I was already in the age of cynicism. Sarcasm had taken its high seat in my head, and puberty was a bad patch I didn’t want to remember. I was already past schooling and into the world. TV took a back seat for a while, as I tried to make my way through dating, working and dating some more. Music was the priority then. You know those dark ages when boy bands were cool, Spice Girls were hot. Ya, that millennia.
Undoubtedly, TV made its comeback into my life with ‘Frasier’, ‘Seinfeld’ and most importantly ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’. Those six inspired millions including me. I thought I was ‘Chandler Muriel Bing’, you know that nicer one of the lot who cracked cheesy jokes. I lived a life of wishfullness through re-runs after re-runs. Wishing for a social circle like that. You know, cool nice people who had a great life. FRIENDS stuck to me for more than 15 years. And somehow it never boring.
When I met my wife, I imagined a life like Monica and Chandler. Fun, with friends, cheesy lines and cosmopolitan lifestyle. She was no better either. And we lived, drew references, and forced inspirations from the scripted characters, trying to justify this illusion that we do have a life like them if not cooler.
Then came along ‘How I Met Your Mother’, a story about five friends who live in NYC and how. My wife was supposed to be exactly like ‘Lilly’, and I, by default became ‘Marshall’, Lilly’s husband. And we have a name of our own set for every other. But the point is not that. The point is that sitcoms make me feel nice about life when my boss is throwing faeces at me like an ape. It makes me believe that I have something more than what I can see. It makes me believe that there possibly is a teeny-tiny bit chance that my life can one day be as colourful and fun as theirs is. Because it makes me believe that I still have a shot at a better life. I know it might be escapism for others, but I like to come back to this cocoon of private emotions and feel good.