I was once having a conversation with an incredible woman who was directing a show that I was in at the time. We were both theater students at Brandeis then, and we were discussing, between film, television, and theater, which simulates real life the most.
She made the argument that theater does. Live performance is just that - it's live. It's really happening right then as you're living, and even assuming you're watching a traditional play where the lines are all rehearsed and memorized, and you're working with a theater set that has to be slightly fudged to work in a theater space (you cannot build a full house for a play that takes place in a home, after all,) anything still can happen. Things change, lines get messed up, and the production still has to deal with all of that and move on. Every performance is different, making the show a living, breathing thing on its own. And because of all of that, theater most closely simulates real life.
I disagree, however. Not about the performance itself - live theater is certainly the most live, as it's, well, live. But I think the most true-to-life medium, by far, is television.
Guys, I love television so much.
Not to say that I don't love film, theater, or webseries! (Webserieses? Websierae? Websieri?) They all absolutely have their advantages, and there are amazing works in all of them, and I love them! Don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to say that I think one is better than the others.
But I really do love television. The very thing that draws me to it is one of its major defining features - how episodic it is. I love how it comes on every week, and something new happens. The story doesn't just open and shut. It can't be neatly summed up in two or three hours. Television stories wind, and take tangents, and weird things happen, and people come in and out, and they take weeks and weeks to happen. Usually there are multiple storylines where every person is doing something different and working towards a different goal. Characters change at the same pace that we do. Characters grow old, and pass milestones in their life. And often, you keep going past the happy ending to see what comes next. (See: Monica and Chandler's relationship in Friends. Do not see: Ted and Tracy in the broadcast ending of How I Met Your Mother. That went way too far past the happy ending, and I'm still not over it. But that's a blog post for another day.)
Even television that isn't based around a specific story is great. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, under the guise of a comedic parody of a news show does legitimately fantastic reporting on some issue or another that I barely even knew about before he talked about it. As much as it's kind of depressing that Jon Stewart is considered the most trusted newscaster in America when he's not a newscaster, he manages to make a demographic of people care about politics when they otherwise might not have. In fact, I've written academic papers about the effect that Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey (as "Sarah Fey-lin") had on the 2008 presidential election. At some point or another we've all dreamed about hosting Saturday Night Live. And, especially at its peak, the go-to conversation topic for most of us was what happened in the past week on American Idol. Television brings us together, and creates countless phenomenons that, in many ways, have shaped our modern culture as a whole.
...I, clearly, have a hard time shutting up when it comes to television. So I'm just going to stop now before this ordinary blog post turns into a full-on academic paper.
But guys, I love television so much.