Bonding Through TV

My dad and I are remarkably alike, probably far more than we care to admit. We both hide a gregarious personality behind a shy demeanor. We both have an inability to take things seriously, responding to most questions with something nonsensical or unhelpful. We both become provoked by yelling, responding with an equally loud voice. Most of all, though, we both like to argue, not in a hostile or angry way, but as a challenge.

I used to be completely unaware of these similarities. When I entered adolescence and developed a slightly angsty, whiny attitude, we drifted apart and he became much closer to my sister. It made sense; as she was four years my senior and capable of holding an adult conversation, they had much more in common. I often felt excluded from this little coalition they had formed, full of inside jokes and references I couldn’t comprehend.   However, the day came when my sister left for college; Berkeley is only an hour or so away, yet for my dad and myself, it felt like an irreparable distance.

So began life in the Matzen household with just myself and my father, and initially, it could best be described as quiet. Without my sister to bring my father and I together, a sense of discomfort pervaded the air; we had no idea what to say to each other. Nights were often spent in relative silence; he would ask me how my day was, I would respond, and then, having extinguished our only topic of conversation, we were quiet.

Then, miraculously, we formed a bond. A bond over television. One often hears about the destructive properties of television, its brain-frying capacities and IQ-lowering consequences. We’ve all met the people who proudly proclaim their rejection of television, citing the closeness of their family without that distracting apparatus. Well, television created a new relationship for my father and me. I’m not saying that we simply spent all of our time together watching television, but through our shared programs, we sparked discussions. True Blood, Game of Thrones, Shameless, Lost, Heroes, Skins, The Misfits: we prefer series with a long complex plot, series that you can’t simply walk into, series that you must watch from the beginning in order to understand anything. We are loyal to our shows, complaining when they jump the shark, yet watching them to the bitter-sweet last episode. We keep the remote ready, anticipating the moment we will have to pause the show to resolve an argument, ranging from frivolous discussions to intense debates, some escalating into full-scale screaming. These bouts of anger are temporary though, as the next joke on television will ultimately leave us reconciling through laughter.

Television may be an odd way to connect with another person, but my dad and I are odd people. With each riveting plot line, with each complex story, with each new issue introduced, these television shows not only further their own tales, but the relationship between my father and me.