The Convenience of the Cut Scene

Let’s face it, in this day and age, cable is overrated (not to mention overpriced) and Netflix is king. It’s everything you want from T.V., right when you want it. And if you – like me – are lucky enough to still be piggybacking off someone else’s account without much fuss (a.k.a. you are still flying under the radar of the actual account owner), then you’ve really got it made.

Furthermore, Netflix has a way of becoming a habitual part of daily life. You pick a show that suits you and all of a sudden your week nights are made infinitely better with the knowing that Netflix will be waiting for you upon your return home.No matter how your day went, you’re just two episodes away from that series finale. So if absolutely nothing else, at least you’ve got that to look forward to.

Of course, one of the major draws of Netflix is the ability of the viewer to consume as much content as we desire in one sitting. Want to watch a full season of “Breaking Bad” (which you will probably be a tad bit judged for, given that series was SO 2008…but whatever)? Netflix makes it so. As a result of that abundant availability, there are some things that the Netflix junkies among us have to come to terms with:

1) Most shows tend to lose their edge when watched back-to-back-to-back-to back -to back, etc.

Just because you have the ability to watch an entire season of “How I Met Your Mother” doesn’t mean every episode is going to be a home run. There are going to be a few “filler” episodes mixed in there that are more focused on character development than the progression of the greater story arc. I would assume that these episodes hold a little more meaning for those who had to wait a full week to view them during their regularly scheduled air time (first world problems, indeed).

2) Life for the characters of your favorite shows are made exponentially simpler through the convenience of the cut scene.

My girlfriend and I are currently on a “Parenthood” kick. We watch at least one episode a day (with a heavy emphasis on the at least part), and we are unabashedly addicted. This show serves as a perfect example of what I mean by the “convenient cut scene,” a common theme in just about every t.v. show…ever. At this particular show’s core is unyielding family drama that drives every episode into the next. Each episode presents a new, emotional plight for one of the main characters.

The scene I’m alluding to develops with as much grace as a scripted scene can. The episode unravels slowly, and then it happens all at once..a conversation or an action that effectively uncovers said plight. Then, right after the revealing moment, there is an instant of realization in which you get an extreme close-up of one or both of the character’s reactions to that action…then there is an all too familiar tone in the music. It’s that “oh…wow, that just happened” prolonged chime in the music that holds for a moment or two. Then….THE CUT.

As quick as a blink, and all of a sudden we are transported to an entirely new setting…new scene…new vibe…new everything.

Most of us just accept the cut scene as part of the magic of television as we are whisked away from one emotionally heavy and complicated moment into a much less complicated and difficult space. From that moment forward, we as the viewers enter into a subconscious mutual agreement with the show writers that whatever happened in that awkward/difficult/frustrating moment was just….dealt with. We don’t know how, but then again, we don’t even have a moment to consider it. We, like the show, just carry on without any further thought.

For the sake of timing, writers can’t afford to flesh out what happens immediately following those really challenging moments in a character’s experience. And the more I watch shows as religiously as I watch “Parenthood,” this really starts to frustrate me (admittedly, more than one should be frustrated by things that really don’t matter…at all). So much so that I felt this warranted some space here on the ‘ole blog.

I feel it’s worth stating the obvious here: Life does not have convenient cut scenes placed throughout. Sure, there are many moments in life we all wish had cut scenes built in. Conversations we wish didn’t have to go down, or actions that we wish we had never carried out. However, the fact is, we have to deal with the aftermath of these moments, because we don’t have the luxury of jumping into a more pleasant reality in the blink of an eye. In real life, these “Oh wow, that just happened” moments happen all the time. Dealing with these moments is what builds real character, this is how we learn, and these are the moments that help to define us.

I am so grateful that every moment of my life demands to be lived, and that no moment is passed over for the sake of convenience and a brighter alternative. Tough moments deserve to be dealt with, and we deserve the satisfaction that comes with having dealt with them.


One Comment

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  1. I really love this post for two reasons:

    1.) Certainly the lesser of the two, but I have noticed how Netflix has taken over people’s nights as of late. The marathoning of tv shows has replaced so many hobbies that now seem old-fashioned. It is almost a talking point for people. “What are you up to?” “Probably just going to Netflix all night.” “Sounds like fun!” It kills me. Glad to hear you are staying off that train, and I will get off of my soap box now.

    2.) Really the more important part here, I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. “Life does not have convenient cut scenes placed throughout.” This is so true. I myself get so lost in the fantasy that is television that I sometimes forget there is a reality to life that no ‘reality’ show can describe. Thank you for the reminder that it isn’t meant to be that way, that we all have to learn and grow outside of the climaxes of life. It is in the in-between that life really happens, and how we manage that in-between determines so much of our day to day happiness.

    Thanks for the post. Definitely a great read!

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