Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Play's the Thing...

Currently, I don't have my television hooked up.  I use it strictly for watching DVD's and nothing more.  There are a variety of reasons for this, but namely it's about distraction.  I don't want the distraction of the television.  It's too easy to flit away the hours watching meaningless images on the screen.  I choose not to do's as simple as that. And I'm saving some money as well which is always a good thing!

But occasionally I do miss it so I'll get my fix from watching specific shows on Hulu.  Love Hulu.  Hope it stays free. Anyway, one of the shows I enjoy watching is "Parenthood."  Sometimes I find the show annoying with all the obvious overlapping dialogue and the sanctimonious storylines, but mostly I like it. Mostly.

This week the season two finale aired on Tuesday night, which means the latest episode was available on Hulu on Wednesday.  So this is what happened in a nutshell...I'm not going to try and explain two seasons worth of this show and all the character history, but this is what I want to discuss now--One of the characters, Sarah, is a single mom raising two teens and living with her parents in their beautiful house in Berkley, CA.  She has a drug and alcohol addicted ex-husband (the father of her children, who showed up in several earlier episodes and played by cutie-patootie hippie boy John Corbett).

I'm getting to my point, I promise.  Sarah currently works as a bartender (a noble profession) but is trying to find her path in life.  She stays up all night one night and writes (presumably) a story all about her family. (which is what the TV show is about in the first place.) She takes the story to her daughter's high school English teacher (who she used to have a crush on) and he tells her it's really good writing but it should be a play.  A. PLAY.

Here's where I come in...or rather, here's where the story starts to IRK me. Sarah rewrites the story as a play.  Now it's a play all about her family. writers are supposed to write what we know...but suddenly Sarah seems to know everything there is to know about playwrighting and she knows details about playwrights and suddenly she knows all about the theatre.  And of course her dad knows this quirky theatrical-type director/producer played by Richard Dreyfuss who embodies every stereotype of a quirky theatrical-type complete with ascot, hat and walking stick.

So of course, in this season finale she gets her play read at the illustrious Berkley Rep to a packed crowd and the thing is...the dialogue of the play that we, the "Parenthood" viewing audience are privy to, isn't very good.  It isn't very funny.  It just looks like some mediocre version of the TV show itself.  Which, of course, it is.

All I'm saying is that it wasn't very believable. Up until now, I've been with the show all the way.  But this?  Maybe it hits too close to home.  Maybe it's because I know how hard it is to get a reading anywhere, much less at Berkley Rep.  Maybe it's sour grapes on my part.  Maybe it's because life on television shows is almost always better than the real thing.  Sometimes.  Maybe not. I don't know.  I want a play produced by Berkley Rep.  That's the truth!

So, the show hit a nerve.  And it made me realize, that maybe...just maybe...I'd be better off without television including the shows I watch on Hulu.  And maybe I need to get crackin' on this new play I'm working on (which, by the way, is NOT about my family).  And maybe I'll meet some quirky little man who wears an ascot and walks with a cane and has connections to Berkley Rep or some equally prestigious theatre. 

The Pulitzer Prize Awards were announced on Monday.  I didn't win.  Maybe because I didn't enter.  But maybe it's because I didn't have a worthy submission. 

I gotta go.  I gotta get busy.  I have a play to write.


MikeB said...

Great post, Debbie. I hope the play you are working on will bring you the recognition you deserve.

As you know, arts and education are often the first to get cut when budgets are tight. So thanks for saying YES to my request to mention a web site developed by my boss Kelli -- a great educator of kids -- whose position was just eliminated.

The site is:

The site has information on the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of first graders. It has great tips and tools for teaching kids math and reading. It has math games and activities, information on learning to read, lists of books that first graders will enjoy, and much more. ENJOY: That is a key word here. Learning can be FUN for kids, and with Kelli's tips, kids can have fun and will not even know that they are learning. That's what you want: a contented child who does not feel pressured when you are helping them continue to learn after a long day in school.

You can read about Kelli herself in the About Me section of the site under Other Random Pages. If you leave a message for Kelli with a comment, question, or other feedback (click on the Contact Kelli section), please mention that you found the web site through MR. MIKE. Thanks a lot.

And thanks again, Debbie, for allowing me to tell your followers about a great resource for helping first graders learn.

Evelyn said...

Television distorts everything. So of course they would make playwrighting look like it's a piece of cake. I hope you write a Pulitzer Prize winning play one day. Why wouldn't you? :-)

Rosemarie said...

Debbie, I love your blogs. I watch Parenthood and I agree with your opinion. The characters are so likable though, I can't think about not watching it anymore.

I invite you to read my blog and let me know if you think my writing is any good. I just started in January after being encouraged by a friend who blogs. I love doing it, but I have no idea if I'm any good. Some day I'd like to write a book for my family.

Best of luck with your endeavors, and I plan to stop by often!