There was a bowl of porridge on the bathroom floor.
It had every right to be there but everything in me knew it was wrong. It was a teal ceramic bowl, in a two stall public bathroom. I was halted by it, its very presence stopping me in my tracks. I forgot for a minute the pulsing ache in my bladder I had been nursing the last 45 minutes.
It was a pit stop. A piss stop my dad used to joke. The bowl looked place. There was no porridge outside of the bowl, no splatter on the tiled floor. For some reason, this gave me comfort. It didn’t fall from some patron’s hands. It was still in one piece.
If it had been dropped it would have smashed and the porridge would have been clumped over the grout lines.
Although, the more I thought, It would have almost made more sense if the porridge had been splattered all over the floor of this public restroom. I could have mistaken it for pale vomit. I would have winced, twisted my nose, shook my head to an audience of no one and moved over to the urinals.
The urinals I think. I’m bursting to go. I sidestep the neat mystery and move towards the closest urinal. Unzipping my jeans, I throw a look over my shoulder. The space is empty. I am alone. Which just upsets me more because now I have no one to muse with. No one to question if they were responsible, no one to laugh with at the ludicrous placement. I was alone in this unusual situation. I release a stream of piss. Some drops return to sender and splash on my skin. My forefingers tentatively gripping the head of my penis receive the spray back. I’ll wash them within the next 60 seconds, no harm no foul.
Shaking the last drop into the bowl, it lands on the decrepit yellow cube. It’s tainted lemon smell suspended in the air. I turn, and it is still there. It wasn’t some delusion created by my anxious mind. The bowl remained undisturbed. I stare at it.
I haven’t slept recently. That’s not true. If you think of what defines sleep, you would say I had slept. That is to say, I laid in bed, closed my eyes, fall asleep and awake a few hours later. I was sleeping but I hadn’t reaped its rewards. No rest came. I had become an outdated phone that, after hours of charging, held the charge momentarily, before rapidly decreasing. I was going through the motions of human existence.
I let my eyes slip out of focus. The curved surface of the bowl becomes looser. Splitting into two bowls, then back to one. A fluorescent glow creates a halo that surrpunds the blue-green surface. The bowl dips below the tiled floors, then it hovers before the sinks. The sinks. I allow reality to snap back to its place and walk to the sink.
A drop of urine now soaking into my finger. The cracks of my skin filling with cloudy fluid. I pump soap over it and dip it below the tap. The bowl sits behind me. At least I think it’s still there. There are no mirrors, and I do not possess eyes on the back of my head like my mother, so I just believe it remains stationary. When I was a boy, I used to think my teddys would move when I turned my back. Probably some lasting effect of seeing Toy Story at a young age. My teddys, all dogs save for one cat that was gifted to me by a relative that didn’t care to know me, sat on the floor beside my bed. A justified spot. A normal place to find such a thing. I would imagine the adventures they would go on in my absence. They would clamber onto the bed. They would stack blocks and build small western towns. Some dogs were bigger, I imagined they kept watch. Some dogs were smaller, they would pile together and discuss the games I played with them.
The bowl was alone. It had no one to bear witness to its activities. Until now. I saw the bowl. I had turned my gaze back to it. Water from my hands dripping on to the tips of shoes. I attempt to clear my mind. I shake my head slightly. No one sees me, yet it felt foolish to react so physically to a mental urge. I use logic. Someone was eating it and left it down for a minute. This public bathroom was at the back of a garage. Three petrol pumps, two car wash, a small convenience shop and one bowl of porridge. Maybe it belonged to the worker. A young woman trapped behind a perspex wall with 8 holes in it. She nodded as I walked past her to the door marked ‘Mens’. It was in the men’s bathroom. Another roadblock. Did she put it here? Why would she have put it in the men’s room and not the women’s? Why put it here at all?
Lately, to help myself sleep, I have watched old tv shows. Some I recall seeing on the cover of TV Guides or advertised when I watched Cartoons. The shows always aired after my bedtime. One show about a morgue attendee who solved crimes, dated 2001 had occupied my last week of late night binges. I wasn’t terribly invested. It had dated dialogue, predictable storylines, unlikable love interests. It was rubbish save for the two soon to be Oscar winners, though they didn’t know it at the time. Tonight I had sat to watch my usual 3 episodes. The first of the pack ended and my screen went dark. “What to watch now” popped up and I felt a pang in my chest. The show had ended mid-storyline, on a forced cliffhanger. It had been cancelled in 2002.
I think about leaving the bathroom. The woman behind the glass may wonder what has taken me so long. Was I doing something unsavoury? But I couldn’t bring myself to leave. The bowl wasn’t going to leave. The mystery it created wasn’t going to leave. Letting myself lean against the lip of the sink, I rest for a minute.
Was it an art project? Perhaps some artistic display. Some “Breakfast is shit” campaign that a first-year art student thinks is revolutionary and challenges the genre.
I decided to see if the porridge is hot. A trick I did when I came from school. I would take the kettle and pour water over my finger. If it was hot, it meant my dad had just left for work. He always made coffee before work. If it was cold, it meant that he could still be nearby. This was my litmus test to see if I could get away with having a smoke behind the garage without getting caught. Maybe it would give me an extra clue. If the porridge is hot, someone is near. Maybe they would be back for it. Laugh and explain why they had put it down. If it was cold, then that would tell me that it had been here for a while. Sitting and waiting or sitting and dying.
Once I came home from school and poured the kettle water over my finger. Hot. He must have just left. But his car remained in the driveway, so he was somewhere in the house. The cup of coffee steamed from its silver ‘To Go’ cup on the counter. I call out for him, but no answer. I press the cigarettes further down into my pocket, in case he was to see the white corner sticking out. I called out again as I turned to walk out of the kitchen. The smell of burnt coffee beans hugged me. Clinging to my cotton jumper, slapping against my black slacks. I started to walk from the kitchen when I saw his foot. It sticks out from behind the dining room table. It was an odd place for him to lie down.
The porridge is neither hot or cold. I blow air through my nose as I realise it must be Goldilocks porridge, as it was “just right”. I correct myself, Goldilocks didn’t own any of the porridge she ate. I then begin to think of which of the bears’ porridge, Goldilocks found to be “just right”. The ambiguity of the temperature added yet another layer to the mystery.
I haven’t slept properly since my dad died. It was as if his last coffee had not only stuck to clothes, but to the inside my body. The caffeine pulsing in my blood ever since. Mam said I should go for walks, clear my head. So here I am, hunched over, fingering a bowl of porridge in a petrol station bathroom at 3:41 am. With the clumped mixture on my finger, I stand up. I use it to make a plus shape above the sink. No reason, just cause. A mystery for the next man. Another story without an ending.
[Extract from “Molly Malone” a fictional story about the life of Irelands most famous woman]
The church door was deceptively light. Its divets suggest a thick, heavy set slab of wood. Molly’s forceful push was redundant, she realised this when the door swiftly returned to its post and hit her shoulder. Ignoring the pain she stormed the foyer. Lost in the shadows, she wiped the tear and rainwater cocktail from her eyes. A rope of hair slapping her back. She had not said a word. She could not find one worthy of saying. Her mind screaming it’s anger and frustration, whilst whispering its fears. Sheltered, she walks towards candlelight.
The glow which had previously given her comfort, now illuminated her horrid world. The world she was starting to feel she was the sole inhabitant. The church was empty, save for the presence of the Almighty. Molly knew she was alone. It had been weeks since she had stepped foot in this building. The last time she walked out was with her mother. She couldn’t bear to walk back in without her.
The bunched ends of her skirt mop the aisle as she walks towards the candles. Picking a match, she attempts to create some warmth. A whistling sound fills the air. The raging storm is trying its best to breach these sacred walls. The match fails to burn and snaps between her pruney fingers. She tosses the box back onto the counter. Plucking a candle from a dish, Molly decides to take life from a dying light. The candle is seconds from melting into the brass. Her hands shaking as the fading embers lick the new candle. It’s pure white wick untouched. Molly watches it blacken and light. Slotting it alongside the other burning sticks, she whispers a prayer “Lord hear me”. Usually she lit the candle for her father. Most recently she lit it for her mother. Occasionally she even lit a candle in remembrance of him. But tonight, she didn’t know who needed it more, them or her.
There was nothing. No gust of wind, no booming voice. Had a priest himself awoken from his slumber to offer some wise words, some compassionate teachings, she would have felt like her evening had some purpose. But nothing happened. Her presence in that hallowed hall will go unnoticed once again.
Turning to walk away, Molly lifted her skirt above her ankle so not to trip on the soggy cloth. Retracing her steps along the damp trail, she returns to the door. It was still open ajar and the rain took this as an invitation. Looking through the crack, she couldn’t bare it. That world, that life, those people and their hearts. No, not tonight. Tonight she couldn’t just leave here without something. Something that would help her, change her, something that would ensure her world would find some light.
Dropping her hem, she allowed it to sweep the floor as she turns back into the church. Staring down the aisle, she looked towards the altar, as she had many times before. Seeking answers, as she had many times before. But this time, she saw it differently, This time, she watched that man hang on the cross. His body exposed, his face pained. Molly had never watched this statue before. Had never wanted to look at it. As if looking at his face, turn in defeat would guilt her more than the words spoken by the priest. She avoided looking at the son of god for fear that she would have to reckon with her own sins. But tonight, she saw him as just that, a son of a sinner.
“Suppose you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately.
Suppose I was wondering the same of you.”
Her voice boomed unexpectedly. Ever syllable said with intention.
“I hear you’re ever present. Ever loving. Well, where are you now? “
Slowly moving towards the figure, Molly does not break eye contact.
“Walking out on your daughter when I needed you most
You seemed to think it queer that I should be happy. That I should be loved. So you took it all away. Took them all back to rest in your bosom well what about me. You left me here to what, punish me?
Inflict your wrath on the woman who sinned.”
The raging storm is silenced by her words. The rain cowers away from the bile her words sure upon. Stopping before the altar, her head upturned to the cross in which he lays upon. She realises that she has overstepped and broken many laws. And yet she continues.
“I see you” a knowing smirk crawls onto her face. Sitting there as if it knows it can finally show itself.
“You are no more than a man. A man who hurts woman to feel powerful, or just. I see you for what you are.“
She was just short of physically tearing down the effigy. Should anyone of heard her, they would have died of shock before putting a stop to her. Satisfied with her realisation. She breaks her visceral stare. To the right of the altar, a lithograph of the last supper. The smirk disappears. Molly takes a breath.
“She loved you.”
Her tone was almost sympathetic as if she was heartbroken for the figure she just decimated. Looking back at the statue she spits
“Mary Magdalene. The whore history created.”
Turning her back she paces the aisle back to the door and returns to the rain. The candles flickering in her wake. The church remained unchanged.
“Keys. Keys, keys keys. Are….” Sheila held her chin in search of her keys. She recalled a chant her grandmother would use when something was lost. Clapping her hands together once she whispered “Jesus lost. Jesus found. Jesus lost. Jesus found.” She navigated her way through the hallway and back into the kitchen for the third time. “Jesus lost. Jesus found.” Her voice louder, but still the clock overpowered her. Shelia was already late and the walkabout keys weren’t helping. Throwing a tea towel into the sink, she found nothing but empty spaces. Frustrated she pulled a bobbin from her wrist and tied up her hair. “Come on! “Jesus lost. Jesus found.” walking from room to room of her home, she felt silly talking to herself. But who else was there to talk to. Her desperate prayers bounced off every wall. She pauses for a moment, catching her reflection in a dark picture frame. Held between the four sticks, a man stood proud. Fish in hand, his eyes beaming. Sheila saw her distressed expression in his black waders. Shirking off her defeat she speaks louder “Jesus lost. Jesus found.” Couch cushions are propelled into the air. The stack of bills spilled across the coffee table, coating the ring marks. “Where are they? Jesus Lost. Jesus Found” her voice breaking as she becomes increasingly frustrated. The clasp on her handbag snapped open, and the contents spilled across the floor. On hands and knees, Sheila massaged the makeup and pens along the carpet. “Jesus Lost..” She whispered. Sitting in the mess, she felt her breath catch in her chest.
Clutching the medallion that sat between her breasts, she let out a river of tears. “Jesus! What good are you?” Giving up on her grandmother’s prayer, she spoke to the destroyed living room. “Do you take things? Is this you? You took my keys. Or maybe I’m just supposed to trust that you return what is lost. Is that it? Are you going to bring them back Jesus? Is that what Nana believed you do? Tell me, if we lose things in this life, are you the one to return them? If that’s the case then why didn’t you return him?” Another rush of tears slide down her face, dripping off the ridges created by her veins. Her flushed skin expressed rage. “Jesus lost, so Jesus found. Well he’s gone. So how long do I have to say that fucking prayer until I find him again?” Throwing her empty handbag across the room. She saw the photo of the happy fisherman. Her shoulders dropped and she smiled. “You must think I’ve gone round the twist eh Mitch?” She let out a sound that resembled a laugh, although it lacked joy. “A few weeks without you and I’m screaming at Jesus for stealing my keys” Wiping her face “Oh God I bet the neighbours heard. I don’t think I’m ready for this.” Scooping up her makeup, she drops them on the couch. “I’m meeting the girls tonight. Shelly said they all want to see me. I haven’t seen them since your…” The words felt bile in her throat. “Since the meal.” Shelia had referred to her husband’s funeral as the meal for weeks now. The meal after the burial was the only point she felt lucid. All morning she had been going through the motions. Eating flavourless toast, dressing in her mother’s black dress. Sheila realised the night before she did not own anything black, she never had an occasion to wear such as drab color. Thankfully she had a box of her late mother’s clothes in the garage. Mitch was meant to drop them into Vincent de Pauls for months before. A baggy black dress with lace sleeves was her armor to wear into the emotional battle that was to come. It smelled musty yet damp. The church was at the end of their street. Her son led her down the road like their roles had reversed and now she was the absent minded child. The last thing she allowed herself to remember was feeling her sons hand slip from hers. He walked towards the doors of the church and joined the 5 other man ready to lift Mitch Creegans coffin down the aisle. The very isle that 30 years before she walked down to meet Mitch and begin their lives. Now she had to begin again. At the meal afterwards, Sheila spoke to over a hundred people, having the exact same conversation with little deviation. A full glass of water warmed in her hands over the course of the afternoon. That same glass remained in the Rams Head Hotel when she went home. From that day on, Sheila remained locked in her house. Until tonight.
“I’m going out tonight Mitch, just down the road to Shelly’s house.” Sighing as she clutched the arm of the couch, She returned to her feet. Looking at Mitch with his fish, she tied her hair back “God I can’t go out. I can’t even handle losing my keys” Staring at her reflection she reasoned with herself “To be fair I never needed keys before. You would always be with me. Or nearby or…I never had to depend on myself.” With that realisation, she scanned the room around her. “Fuck it.” Grabbing her bag, she found some confidence. Storming into the hallway she grabbed the heaviest item she could find on her way out the door. Ripping the modem out of the wall, she shoved it into her handbag and continued walking towards the front door. Clutching her medallion once more, she turned back and smiled. “See you later Mitch!” With that she closed the front door and walked up the driveway.
[Extract from an unfinished novel ‘Resolutions’. A story of a group of friends, separated by rumours, heartaches and bus seats, all find themselves on the same coach to visit their friend Austin.]
Conor and Kerrie
Four and a half minutes. Four and a half minutes is how long Conor sat in uncomfortable resistance. His headphones pumping distractions into his ear but they were dismissed. He was immune to the lyrics, as they played for the hundredth time. They had become as monotonous as the sound of the bus’s engine. His mind alive with questions that sparked an internal debate. ‘He walked right by me’ his brain highlighted amongst all other thoughts. His mind acted as a bully to his heart, teasing the weaker organ in a juvenile ‘nana nana na’ style. And so, he took action.
Untangling his headphone from his neck, he dumped them atop his leather satchel. Realising the bus had just left its last stop, he reassures himself he could leave his travel companion unattended. Four and a half minutes was all it took for Conor to leave his seat and journey down the bus in pursuit of a what he hoped, was still a friend.
The lights along his path had dimmed as soon as he walked. His boots clanked on the thin carpeted metallic floor. Leaving the cityscape behind, the bus entered onto the motorway. As it moved from debris-littered road to the smooth tarmac, the vehicle hit a bump. The bump that launched the entire bus into the air momentarily. Conor stumbled as he heard a voice. “They’re not here” A snarky statement caught Conor’s ear. He was so focused on finding the man who clearly didn’t want to be found that he was ignorant to anyone else he passed. To his left sat a the girl he never paid too much attention to. Her head rotated on the fulcrum of her turtleneck top. Its rich cream color stood out against the abstract designed bus seats. “She went after him!” The girl sat against the window and looked up at Conor. The seat beside her vacant, he sat down. “What are you doing here?” He asked.
Kerrie wasn’t surprised he didn’t notice her walk on, her face tended to hide behind a sheet of black hair, keeping your head down will do that. “Same thing as you apparently” her voice sharp yet quiet. Looking into the black mirror, she awaited Conor to connect the dots she had connected ten minutes before. “You’re going to visit Austin too!” he released air through his mouth, it wasn’t a laugh at all, although it pretended to be. John Austin lived in Dundalk, not by choice. He attends college in this country town on the outskirts of Dublin. “That son of a…” Conor didn’t finish his sentence, instead, he took out his phone. Shifting his body on the cushion he lifted a screen out of his skinny jeans and returned to his original position.
“You texting him?” Kerrie asked, her eyes still fixated on her own reflection in the bus window. “Yea, he told me it was just me coming up this weekend, I wanna know why you and Bryan are here.” Conor seemed frustrated to Kerrie, but she couldn’t resist poking a bit more. “Aibell and Cooney are here too” she smiled with her lips and looked at him “It’s a party!”
Conor let out an oxygen laugh again, he didn’t look up from his phone. “He hasn’t been online in over an hour!” He was referring to Austin’s activity on Chatter.
Chatter was the instant messaging app that allowed everyone to message each other at a moments notice. In recent days it had become a platform for much bitchiness, at a moments notice. Conor sent his message and put his phone face down on his lap. The light spilling onto his thigh “How are you?” He sucked his teeth awkwardly awaiting a response. “Fine, you?” Kerrie kept her monotone voice since they first began speaking. Both understood they were caught in an awkwardly polite conversation, however they both understood why the other was on the bus to begin with. And that was conversation worthy. “Grand, you going to see Aus?” Conor watched the back of his phone, the light dimming. No response from Austin. “Yep, I suppose you are too?” Kerrie turned to look at him “Yea, shouldn’t be too long, he told me the journey usually takes an hour…”
Conor was trying his best to make the most generic of small talk, but before he could start rambling on about the weather, Kerrie interrupted him. “You don’t have to sit with me, Bryan and Aibell are probably a few rows back waiting for you” Her offer while pitiful, was sincere. “They’re not waiting for me, he..” pausing, his brain forming the words and the thoughts simultaneous that the only way to fully understand his feelings at this moment was to stunt his speech “he doesn’t want to talk to me. He’s been ignoring me.”
“I’m sure that’s not true…” Kerrie tried to comfort him although she was fully aware that this could indeed be true. “No, he doesn’t want to talk to me, he’s seen my Chatters and hasn’t responded, so fuck him!” Conors hands clutched his phone as the bus slide along the road. “Ok, so you’re pissed” Kerrie laughed
“No it’s just” she heard the start of his sentences and knew she had just opened the floodgates to a rant. Kerrie rolled her eyes unbeknownst to her newly acquired travel companion. “He gets prissy at me for no reason! He doesn’t want to talk to me, he wants to talk to her. They’ve both been online…” Kerrie sprung into action and cut across him “They’ve both been online? You checked?”
Checking who has been online by the timestamp of their Chatter profiles had become a bad habit for Conor. The problem with how connected we are is that it increases paranoia and unhealthy social observation. Obsession with why a person is ‘online’ but if they are not talking to you, then who? So Conor would click-through his various other forums and see who else appeared ‘online’. It wouldn’t take long for him to deduce who was talking to whom. He wasn’t proud of this, hence why he was having difficulty responding to Kerrie. “Whatever little drama you guys have going on, just deal with it already so our worlds can start spinning again” Kerrie held no punches. “What happened? One minute you’re bum chums and next you’re little bitches on the playground” The imagery amused her. “It’s hard to explain” Conor spoke low, his head drooped onto his chest like a scolded child. “Hard to explain, that’s another way of saying I’m keeping a secret that I don’t want to tell you.”
“It’s not that” Conor seemed angry at her assumption
“It’s ok, we’re not as close as we used to be anymore. Whatever secret or lie is breaking up the bromance, just talk to him about it.”
Kerrie returned to looking out the window. However she couldn’t see past her own reflection. The bus was dim, the overhead lights excreted a blue glow. Through her transparent eyes, she watched the blurring of cars driving in the opposite direction. She liked to sit on the right side of the bus. The window seat offered more. She enjoyed knowing that outside her own world, others were driving alongside her. Kerrie liked to create stories. The truck plastered with a supermarket logo traveled like a sidecar. It kept the speed of the bus, Kerrie imagined the man inside was a murderer. And in between the crates of crackers and juice boxes, he hid his victims. He was on route to Dundalk also because he had a factory up there where his wife waited. The factory produced solid mahogany wardrobes by day. But by night, he and his wife would slice up the bodies and dump them in the ocean. But before they dumped them, they would savor a single drop of blood from each victim and drop it into the mahogany stain. Each freshly produced wardrobe had a drop of a murder victims blood smeared onto it.
Or he could just be driving to pick up his deliveries for the next morning, who knows. It was far more entertaining creating messed up stories for travellers on the motorway then looking out onto a field with the odd farm animal sighting, for an hour.
Conor was still processing the bluntness of his friends’ statement, “You ok Ker?” His voice had changed, he seemed concerned rather than angry.
“Mmm hmm” wordless responses seemed easier than actually saying her problems out loud. “I know you’ve been going through a tough time lately..” Conor was hoping she would open up to him, but defining what their connection is as friendship was to highly overstate it. Lately, Kerrie had very few friends, she was running to Austin to cling to the last semblance of a companion she had left. “I’m fine!” She snapped, still fixated on the trucks logo. “I thought Austin banned that word” Conor laughed as if he had one-upped his opponent. Their conversation was not friendly, it felt more like a game of Jenga, pulling out bits of dialogue to stack them on top of each other, to better each other. Both waiting for the other to collapse first.
“Fine doesn’t mean fine anymore. Fine is understood as an acceptable answer to give when you don’t feel like flashing your soul to someone who doesn’t give a fuck and was just being polite really.” Kerrie smiled at the retelling of her friends definition. “Aus really has a way with words” Conor sat up as if to leave “You do know we’re here for you though, whatever is going on, we all care about you” His lips formed a sympathetic smile, Kerrie didn’t see. “You care, no offense but that’s crap!” Her disclosure of ‘no offense’ was redundant, Conor looked hurt. “If you all cared so much, I wouldn’t have to hike to Dundalk just to confide in someone! Maybe you do care, maybe you look at me, at my arms and my tear-stained cheeks and you think ‘oh I hope she’s ok’ but you don’t act on it. I’m not an important kind of pain. It’s not sexy. It’s real, too real for you guys. So you let it go, you say these little safety net words like ‘we’re all here for you’ just so you can say you did. They’re hollow words.” She turned to look him in the eye “If you were really here for me, you would know that I’m doing a lot better. I’ve been through the worst of it without your help. Everyone was too wrapped up in each others drama to even notice me. So I did it without you, so don’t you come running in at the finish line and pride yourself on offering me a shoulder. I can get by just fine without you all.”
They sat in silence for a moment. They dare not look at each other, they kept their distance while sitting hip to hip. “Guess we all got wrapped up in our own problems that we forgot about everyone else” Conor remarked in attempt to rein her back into a polite conversation. “Except Aus, he seems to know everything. He’s like our human magic eight ball.” Kerrie smiled.
Trump. A person who’s very presence in the world is difficult to ignore. There are constantly news stories featuring the man and it seems the culture has been greatly influence. Culture is responsive and moulded by the world in which it is created. We live in an era where the president is Trump and with that, has come a number of media artefacts that discuss and question this fact. Lately I have noticed American Television has become littered with Trump references. For international viewers of these shows who may not be directly affected by this president, It’s exhausting.
The Good Fight has modelled its entire sophomore season around Trump. Each episode has been named ‘ Day 408’, ‘Day 415’ setting the tone of the series which seems to be counting the days of Trumps Presidency like a prisoner with a wall and some chalk. Furthermore, Trump’s inauguration speech is feature in the opening sequence. Before the show has even begun, its the Trump show.
The idea that the show mentions and reacts to political climates is not new. Its predecessor, The Good Wife, used its fictional characters to unpack many difficult issues, the ‘Ferguson’ episode for example. In the later season of The Good Wife, Obama and his governments influence was mentioned, but far less than the number of times Trump has been mention in The Good Fight. It is almost as if Trump is his own character, the unseen villain of this world looming over the lawyers.
The recent reboot of sitcoms Roseanne and Will & Grace have shown just how politicised television has gotten in the past year. Each show has mentioned – in their first episodes- which presidential candidate from 2016 they supported and continue to support. Will & Grace feature Clintons ‘Equal sign’ emblem in every episode and even set an episode in the White House. Roseanne, which returned last week to record ratings, features a vocal Trump supporter at the helm. The man himself tweeted about the shows ratings as if he himself is responsible for its success.
In a sense he’s correct. Trump, who was once himself a major TV star, has returned to Television and is either a punchline or an adversary for the characters. American Horror Story based a season around the election results and what impact it has on each character. This is a show thats usual themes include ghosts, witch covens and killer clowns. It seems that the media produced in this Trump era is not just a reaction to the election of the man but instead, it utilised the mass unpopularity of president to create a world where character express their dislike of him. Storylines featuring Trump are an easy sell. Instead of asking the audience to challenge the culture of hate, it panders to it.
Albeit, this should not surprise us. When studying media produced during and after World War II we can see that comics, books and movies often took the Nazis and -rightly- vilified them. Perhaps we need to watch fictional characters discuss, fight, or agree with real world leaders and political events in order to process our own thoughts.
Television as a form of escapism seems to have been put on pause. It is difficult to escape real world events when our characters are faced with the same landscape. Perhaps we just accept it and ask creators to use the shows to explore what the characters – and by extension the viewer – can do to find optimism in 2018. Whether it be protesting in American cities or clicking out of the news spiral. Perhaps then we can press play and escape once again.