Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

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Okay, so much has happened that today, instead of getting one long argument of a blog post, you're going to get a bunch of mini posts, all rolled up into one! More long form Weekend Update than, you know, Last Week Tonight.

Because you guys, the past couple of weeks have been absolutely insane. I didn't update last week because I was shooting for three separate projects, running to several auditions, and barely finding time to eat and sleep amidst all of that. It was all excellent fun, and I loved it, don't get me wrong! It was a short film and two webseries - Lactose Intolerance, Twisted Tales, and In Retrospect, directed by my friend Amanda Jane Stern, if you want to look out for them! - and they're all hilarious. But overall, it was also exhausting. If you had told me ten years ago that I'd be a massive workaholic who would willingly wake up at 6:30 AM for her job on a Sunday, I would've thought you were insane. But that sure is what happened this past weekend.

All of that has made me think a lot about how I spend my time, though, and what's worth it. For instance, every day that I don't have a paying gig, I'm at home working at least eight hours a day on either the business of being an actress, or writing scripts with roles I create for myself. And all of that is absolutely worth it, and it's the reason I've been cast in about three things within the past week! But sometimes I know I allow myself to get involved with projects, or let myself get put in social situations, where I would feel rude for declining. Especially if I know I would hurt somebody's feelings if I wasn't there, I will almost always turn up. But I've also been exhausting myself recently, and it's making me consider that maybe I need to drop some of these projects and friendships that are no longer serving me. One phrase I've tried to keep in mind this year is "don't set yourself on fire to keep others warm," and I've been working to remember it because it's a thing that I oftentimes do. It's a process, it's not something I'm going to snap to and start cutting people and things out of my life just like that. But it's something I've been considering recently. More of a way of trying to think about what I'm actually getting out of everything into which I put my valuable time.

Don't worry, the people and projects I'm thinking of aren't you and yours!

I've been thinking lately about romance and dating as an actor. This is a topic I'm sure I'll go into again, in greater detail, at some point in the future. But, I won't lie to you guys, I've been a little bit romantically lonely for a while. And I say that fully understanding that I don't have the time for a relationship. 99 times out of 100 I will place my work above a significant other. And I have a lot of work. And I don't doubt that choice. I've even tried to, but it's what's right for me. I would hate myself if I lost out on my dreams because some boy or girl distracted me. And if/when something really is right, I'm sure we'll be able to work something out. I look to the relationship Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer have as an incredible inspiration: They both have their own stuff to do, but when their schedules coincide they always choose each other, and they're still very happy, loving, and supportive. I just also know that that's a lot to ask of someone, and it makes me a little sad how difficult it is to find someone who interests me, who I like, and who is willing to put up with all of the baggage that comes with me and my work.

Finally, on a similar but much brighter note, I've been thinking lately how much I appreciate and value real friendships, and how good it is to hold on to what I believe in. Without going into details, I recently had a friendship that I have had to fight for over the years validated. And it's been giving me the warm fuzzies ever since when I think about it. It hasn't been turbulence-free, but because we both refused to let go and insisted on loyalty and perseverance, it's really paying off now, and I appreciate it.

So, you know, that's cool.

Some exciting stuff is coming up this week, so I'll be back to my single-topic, long-form blog posts soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this short form style! Because now that it's what I've written out, it sure is what I'm sticking with.

"There are only two things I love in this world: Everybody and television!" - 30 Rock, "Believe in the Stars" (S3E2)

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.