Saturday, December 1, 2012

Unnecessarily attached to people who don't exist

It's not difficult to become attached to fictional characters. Books, movies, tv shows, songs - it really doesn't matter. Think about all the major motion picture franchises of the last few years: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter, Twilight (although I hate to include them), the Marvel Comics films, The Hunger Games - very few of these started with fans of just the films. Most people who went to see these films (including myself - except Twilight) had some kind of attachment to the characters before they got in line. The power of good story is that we connect to it on a personal level. That's what keeps us rereading books and waiting in long lines at the midnight show. We want to see those beloved characters come to life. 

I even do this is cycles: every 2 years, I reread Anna Karenina. It's my February book. I haven't seen the new version of the film yet (maybe over the Christmas holidays) and I'm worried that I'll hate it and that somehow the book will be ruined for me. I mostly blame this on the casting on Keira Knightley.

The first real characters I felt this way about were the characters in Judy Blume novels. I'm convinced that she created all of these characters exclusively for me. Margaret, Sally J. Freedman, Sheila the Great, Fudge and Peter - they were all my friends and I wanted to hang out with them and/or be them (in the case of both Margaret and Sally). While I did read the "older" books (Deenie, Forever..., Wifey, Summer Sisters), my favorites have always been Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. I reread them both recently and I still identified with Margaret and Sally. And honestly, I'd really like to know what happened to Margaret when she got to high school.

Recently, I've found myself not identifying with characters in books as much and more with characters on tv shows. Gilmore Girls, Leslie and Ben on Parks and Rec, Jaye from Wonderfalls, and even the characters on Hell On Wheels - I just can't help but be concerned for them and invest way too much time in thinking about what's going to happen to them (except Jess and Dean from GG - I don't care and I don't like either of you).

But the show that takes the cake in my habit of becoming attached to people who don't exist is Treme. I'm still thinking about the season 3 finale (and there may be spoilers in a few minutes but I feel like you've had plenty of time to watch it) and how I was concerned the entire episode for Terry and LP's safety. Honestly, I thought that one or both of them would get killed or seriously injured in this episode. It's not like it's unrealistic given their professions (detective and investigative journalist respectively).

There's a part in this episode where Terry goes to get into his NOPD issued car and he's knows something is up (given his status in the department) and my only thought was, "Please don't get into that car because it will explode and you will die and I'll never get to see you and Toni happy together on this show. And then I will be sad." He does not get in the car (and it doesn't blow up) but he does find drugs in the trunk because his fellow officers are trying to set him up. He walks away and lives but I hate that he's the only honest cop and no one else seems to get it. Even in the final moments of the show when he and Toni are sharing a post-Jazz Fest beer on the porch, an NOPD car rolls by watching them. And I thought - they're going to die (but they don't). When LP made it to his flight safely, I let out a sigh of relief. (The man tailing him the whole episode? Federal agent who likes him not who wants to kill him.) And laughed when he told a girl at the airport that his favorite music was "metal and sea shanties."

There are so many characters to love on this show and I honestly don't want anything bad to happen to them. (We'll have to discuss the season 2 finale and Annie's uncomfortable use of Harley's music this season another day.) When it does, I get made and all riled up on their behalf. I know that a lot of why I specifically love this show is because it's the closest thing I have to New Orleans in my living room once a week. I cry during every Mardi Gras episode. I watch for people I know (since many local actors have parts on the show) and I pine for the food and the music and the people.

Andrew, Ghost Tour guide
I could go on for hours about LaDonna, Albert, Annie, and Antoine (characters I also adore beyond belief and would fight for if it came down to it) but my other absolute favorite is Davis. Steve Zahn is perfect as Davis, part-time DJ, New Orleans music fiend, and all around man with a plan. The character Davis based in part on an actual person, Davis Rogan, but he actually reminds me of my friend, Andrew. Andrew and I have known each other a long time and he moved to New Orleans when I was still working for the university. He instantly fit into New Orleans (I occasionally describe him as the King of New Orleans). Andrew, like Davis, seems to know everyone and is involved in all sorts of artistic and cultural and random events. And it all makes sense in the world of New Orleans. That's what I love about the city and Treme - you see the juxtaposition of the insane and the sublime, the normal and the unusual in everything all the time.

Treme is done for the season and there's only five more episodes left for the entire series (at least that's what I've heard). I guess I'll have to find something else to do with my Sunday nights. Or I could just start it all over again from the beginning. Maybe I'll find more things to love about my favorite fictional characters.

Check out Andrew's album:
Photo by me
Image from


  1. I think "24" was the first show that dared kill off a beloved character, and it was such a shock that it made me burst into tears. I kind of hate that so many TV dramas do it now as a way of raising the stakes or playing on viewers' emotions. I also get attached to characters and want to be sure that my favorites stay alive!

  2. p.s. I saw this movie in the TV listings (it airs a week from tomorrow), and thought that it seemed like a very Erin kind of movie:

  3. This is right up my alley! I love these cheesy Hallmark/Lifetime/whatever other channel holiday movies. It's an addiction.

    I was devastated at the end of season 2 of Treme when a shocking death occurred. I cried - it was awful. Stupid tv shows.