02 September 2009

100 Issue for 100 Days: #17

#17: Jacob I Have Loved

Television and literature have always been locked in a competition for my affection. Both can easily tap into my emotions so much so that I've been known to full-on sob on the bus over Dumbledore's death and also wake up out of a dead sleep in tears because Denny Duquette suffered a heart attack. But there's very few times when these two passions collide. Luckily, I've found one place where they always do and it's Television Without Pity. In particular, one writer has managed to take the simple television recap to the height of literary critique and that's Jacob.

He is who I aspire to be. Every time I watch an episode of Weeds or Gossip Girl I can't wait until I can read his recaps because I know they will take the analysis of the episode to a level that will inevitably make me love the episode even more. After watching the season finale of Weeds, I went to TWoP to discover that Jacob had titled his recaplet "The Brief and Wonderous Life of Pilar Zuzuao", a play on the Junot Diaz novel The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. Where else can I get my geek fix so easily?

Beyond clever wordplay and literary references, reading a Jacob recap is like eating thinly sliced himachi tuna with honeydew melon and sea salt on a summer day. That is to say: sublime. When discussing True Blood, where else can I find insight like:
But you don't go home. You go to a new place every time. While she was away, the world became wild. The old safe places became not so safe; the old hiding places were touched with madness. The uncanny began to invade; the uncanny was invited in. She reached out and touched his fangs, and offered him her throat ....Welcome in, it says on the left, and FUCK OFF, it says on the right: You don't go home, and welcome home.
That is the beauty of his writing. It's haunting and keen in a way that makes you feel like you've just watched something completely different and MISSED THE ENTIRE POINT. His recaps for half-hour shows are at least 12 pages long and the hour-long dramas (if it's a great episode) can run from 20-36! I've happily downloaded songs, rented films, run internet searches and broke open a dictionary because of a recap.

Reading this today inspired me to write this post:

And so in the finale, of all places, we're finally being told outright what we could have been watching all this time: Pilar is the U-Turn that Nancy couldn't overlook, because she is a woman. She uses all the tools Nancy has and lots of tools Nancy doesn't have, and has been creeping unseen into every aspect of Nancy's life until she's not sure who the Boss really is. .... Pilar exists as a powerful woman, then, to deconstruct and transcend the Nancy/Men and Men/Boys binaries that Nancy's been operating on (in Jungian terms, she's the tertium non datur, the irrational symbol that transcends the signified opposites, allowing Nancy to bring the possibility of a new path up into consciousness)*. And that would have been a great story, and it's the story we're being told we got, but it's not actually the story we got.
*Emphasis mine.

After reading this (and looking up the term: tertium non datur), I realized I was left with two choices: acknowledge this amazing writer or not. And I chose the former.
The first time I reveled in the genius that I was reading was during a Gossip Girl recap titled "When U Were a Fever". I followed the winding prose that built like the fever described in the episode until I landed at the end:
How bad does it get, in the dark places? And just before the music goes crazy and the fever returns, and the camera away from the two of them every fourth beat, back and up the staircase, before everybody watching goes: "The fuck!?" and starts screaming, Serena says: "I killed someone."
That was exactly how I felt watching the episode. The building of suspense until you're on the edge of your seat wondering what the FUCK has been going on and then that moment of reveal right before the credits just like the weekly "thud" that ends every episode of Lost. But the awe-inspiring realization is that all of that was recaptured in someone's analysis of the episode. You don't have to watch it again because it's all astutely laid out for you in the place you were least expecting. And that is what I love.

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