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Please, somebody … just get us out of here

Jason Momoa in Apple’s “See”

The diagnosis, I feel sure, is chiefly Game of Thrones withdrawal. Whether you loved it or were disappointed, Game of Thrones ended, leaving us exposed and defenseless in the here and now.

Europe has been in an oven. The American heartland keeps flooding. Many farmers have been ruined. The water is waist deep in the Louisiana lowlands though hurricane season is just getting started. Wildfires have been raging in the arctic and in Hawaii. It’s summer in California, which means that California will soon have fires to go with its earthquakes. Monsoon flooding in India just killed 90 people and displaced more than a million. It’s too hot to go outside here unless you’re back indoors by 9:30 a.m. “Climate despair” is now a mental health diagnosis. Donald Trump’s approval rating rose a point or two as the scrutiny of his concentration camps intensified. The U.K. seems to want its own version of Donald Trump. The yield curve is inverted. Bees are dying faster than ever, though monster-size snakes and armadillos, like Trump’s base, feast and flourish in broad daylight.

Maintaining one’s sanity requires some escape. But where to? I spend more time surfing the streaming services looking for something fit to watch than I spend actually watching stuff. I have never been able to understand the appeal of stories set in the here and now. Where’s the escape in that? I’ve started a collection of the pathetic little blurbs that one finds in the streaming services while searching desperately for something to watch. Who writes these shows? Who watches them? Why do they bother to make them? For example:

• After a bad breakup, a struggling New York comedy writer tries to don a brave face and care for his dying mother in Sacramento.

• His wife wants out. His son’s a pothead. His rabbi can’t help him. Poor schlub. He could do worse, but not by much.

• What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas … when you can’t remember what the hell happened the night before.

If all stories were that useless, I would not have survived childhood, let alone have made it to my present considerable age.

Maybe Apple will help? Later this year, Apple’s streaming service will start. Lists of the shows that Apple has in production have started appearing, for example, this one. There is the now-obligatory dystopian thriller, “See,” but so far it looks like just another show in which half the budget is spent on body rugs and bad hair. At $15 million per episode, right up there with the last season of Game of Thrones, this series can afford a lot of bad hair. I’m intrigued, though, that Apple is taking on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.

Based on this list, I tried to do a rough count of how many of Apple’s new shows are not set in the here and now. I came up with 12, versus 25 shows that are set in the here and now.

Occasionally I do find something that is worth watching all the way to the end. “The Stone of Destiny” (2008) is particularly relevant now that talk of Scottish independence has been renewed because of Scottish exasperation with Brexit. “Crooked House” (2017) got mediocre reviews, but I thought it was a fine production of an Agatha Christie novel, and with a superb cast.

On the other hand, I watched only about two minutes of the Netflix revival of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. I had assumed that it was a proper remake, but instead it appeared to be just a sentimental wallow and a heavy new dose of Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney for those (such as Armistead Maupin) who can’t get enough. I follow Maupin on Facebook (mostly selfies), by the way. He has become a colossal boor with nothing new to say and who hasn’t done anything since Tales of the City other than pursue his climber social life.

If anyone would care to debate me, I would be willing to defend the proposition that decent human beings are now living through the most disturbing times since April 1945, when Hitler put a gun to his head. As evidence of this, you only have to look around and see who is gloating, and why. The worst among us believe themselves to be back on top again. They also believe that God sent Trump to save the world — not from climate disaster or thermonuclear destruction or another war, but from liberals like us.

Stories about Vegas and Sacramento just aren’t going to cut it for me.


  1. Chenda wrote:

    Sounds like you’ve had a really bad night on Netflix 😉 I agree though, those little blurbs they write are really irritating. A few series I’ve enjoyed recently; Killing Eve, Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror, The Last Kingdom. Failing that, some old period dramas should provide some escapism.

    It is terrifying what’s happening. I’ve had to completely stop looking at the news as it was triggering too much anxiety. You made a very wise decision to build a rural refuge David all those years ago. After Brexit I was fortunately able to get Irish Citizenship, and I am seriously looking at moving abroad if we continue down the path of insanity and self-destruction.

    Monday, July 15, 2019 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Chenda: Irish citizenship! How fortunate you are! I love Ireland, which feels like an ancestral home to me, but my concern for Ireland is how globalization, and Ireland’s becoming a global tax and corporate haven, has driven prices up all over the country, not just in Dublin and Cork. The reversal of the Irish diaspora is a beautiful thing, yet the increase in the Irish population looks like a problem for escapists like me. I prefer places with out-migration and a depressed economy for the quiet and lack of hubbub. Though depressed economies present a different set of problems.

    Right now, if I could push a button and live anywhere, I think I’d go to the Scottish isles. The isles remain underpopulated, even though Edinburgh is growing, thanks to the E.U., to the tech economy, etc. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to work anymore, and my income is good anywhere. I was talking with a Scottish estate agent recently about an entirely different matter, and he said that, if Scotland breaks with the U.K., then Scotland may well open itself to immigration, because Scotland already needs people (at least outside of Edinburgh and Glasgow) and would need people even more if the borders close. I read somewhere recently that Brexit would leave Scotland with a population deficit of about half a million. I don’t think I’d ever sell Acorn Abbey. But I sure as heck could imagine closing the place up for a few months a year and creating a part-time alternative to the U.S., and a foothold elsewhere in case of overt fascism in the U.S. Living part-time in Scotland could be done with ordinary visitor visas. And Scotland, to me, feels as much like home as Ireland.

    These are scary times. It’s smart to develop some options.

    Monday, July 15, 2019 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

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