We’re a 100% pop culture consuming family. Now when I say pop culture, I realize I need to break it down a bit because in 2018, there are so many amazingly incredible, yet wildly different tribes.
There are the K Family, entertainment television, red carpet viewing, “who are you wearing?,” “who'll get the rose?,” reality tv enthusiasts.
There are also the Comic Con, cosplay, franchise loyalists.
Then there is the whole DIY, HGTV, Food Network, real estate sort of junkies.
Now at Casa Colaluca, we're the music consuming, art loving, streetwear obsessed, multimedia sort.
Within our family, our pop culture tastes vary, and we often discover things at different times and stages. These days, I don’t possess the anime addiction my husband and daughter share, and am the outlier with my documentary fascination. I devour books at a voracious rate, and Ruby Joy consumes mange. Bill loves hardcore dude rock in a way that never moved me, but our indie tendencies totally align. Ruby Joy pretty much only speaks K-Pop these days, and my bandwidth is a bit more brittle in my appreciation of the genre. And after decades of obsessing over Takashi Murakami, my family has joined the cult.
In recent months, another area our paths have merged, is old school TV. Ruby Joy asked that a particular series be put into our family bonding rotation. After years of YouTube, VRV, and all the new media glory, RJ is interested in some OG shows.
And in the realm of old school TV, it is amazing to me that over the decades, great TV shows possess some truly incredible powers. Great television series span generations in appeal, and bond people in the most gloriously unexpected ways. They offer an escape, often broaden our horizons even just a little bit, or reflect pieces of ourselves in hilariously wonderful ways.
Before I proceed with wrestling the syndicated alligator Ruby Joy requested, as the sitcom is a but if a cultural one, let me note that I am not a critic, nor candidly a fan of said people who do not professionally do the craft they're judging and dissecting. However, being as A WOMAN YOUR AGE is a society & culture blog, I find it fascinating how certain series sit within our lives. How well they hold up over the decades, and how they have a wonderful power to fuse generations together in both sweet and powerful ways, all within the comfort of our homes.
Now what, pray tell, is this syndicated metaphorical alligator?
Why, Friends, of course.
And although not a critic, as usual, here goes total honesty...
I wasn't a huge fan of Friends the first go around, but my husband was, so I watched it all. And although I was least likely to take a magazine quiz to find out if I was a Rachel, Monica, or Phoebe, I enjoyed watching it with Bill because it made him laugh so freaking hard. And since I also love my daughter beyond rainbows, the Milky Way, and the solar system’s known edges, Friends went into our regular family viewing rotation.
In context of OG Friends anthology, I was fresh out of college when it came on air. And much within the series' arch, was parallel with what I was personally going through on my road to adulthood. I got married at the young age of 23. We waited to have our daughter, and I didn’t get pregnant until 32. So the plotline of the series marched to a startling similar beat to our realtime adultization.
But let’s cut to the quick regarding observations rewatching it in 2018, with the first being that those Friends really liked their porn. Porn is so present within storylines, it feels like an eighth character added to the six friend ensemble (with Paul Rudd being the seventh, of course).
Amazingly enough, their porn obsession was not necessarily the headscrather. What gives an extra dose of awkward, is how much of a group, versus individual sport, watching porn was for that crew of friends. But recurring porn is the fluff observation, with no fluffing pun intended.
Particularly cringey for us in watching Friends in 2018, is their treatment of sexual orientation. That’s where there were many “oh myyyy” moments for us. The show objectified and fetishized lesbians, while emasculating gay men. In other words, being gay was a slight to the male characters, but gay women were hot with consistent requests for voyeuristic displays for hetero dude enjoyment. The tone deaf punchlines dinged a culturally dated bell far too often for us.
A third note, and bit of a tangent, is that if Ruby Joy and her crew ever have the costuming needs to dress as the cast of Friends, there is a rack of amazing clothes on our lower level packed with Betsey Johnson, Fornarina, and Custo Barcelona. And in watching the series together, my stored fashion relics were put into a far cooler than previously perceived context. It is not even a debate, Ruby Joy will have a 100% killer and authentic wardrobe for future Friend themed parties. Just one of the many perks and memories of having regularly visited my brother in LA, during my unrestrained spending days.
Besides those two takeaways, and a tangent, Friends was fun to watch with Ruby Joy. It opened many conversations, while allowing us to share much we would never have thought to. It also set up a pattern of slotting in a designated series for family bonding.
Our latest binge, per Ruby Joy's request, is The Office (American Version). And I have to say, that show holds up in ways I never anticipated.
What also strikes me about The Office, is that it tackles comedy in a way that I don’t think can be created in 2018. The Office is sort of the Paul's Boutique of sitcoms. They are both brilliant, but also benefit from the times in which they were created. The Beastie Boys (nor anyone) could again achieve (or afford to) the genius level of sampling due to changes in modern copyright laws, and The Office couldn't let certain jokes fly in that they are a bit too on the nose of deviant thinkers in 2018. There is too much polarity and sensitivity in culture these days, and the jokes unfortunately ring close to what we see polluting social feeds (only lacking the intended comedy and irony).
In context of Office OG anthology, the series came on air the year after our daughter was born. I was still working within the corporate design farm, and my husband just switched over to working at the same company. So for us, there was a wonderful comradery and catharsis in watching The Office together.
In tackling The Office Round 2.0, what I find so interesting is how my empathies have shifted within the show, as well as who I identify with. It’s a no brainer that our age put us in a Pam and Jim situation Round 1.0. But in Round 2.0, we are 100% Team Stanley. We are now both empathizing with the guy who wants to get into the office, do a good job, then get the hell out and back home to the people he loves. The job is a j.o.b.. He takes pride, he finds the nuggets of glory like on Pretzel Day, but he has no time for the insistent nonsense or insanity.
The biggest surprise with The Office, is how much my eyes well due to the tenderness the show bubbles up. I am unsure if it’s just such a relatable series, or because we’ve known each one of those characters in our real life offices, or the incredible writing and acting. Most likely all of the above.
The writing, situations, acting, and chemistry within The Office are just something that I never knew my 2018 self needed as a distraction from the 2018 shit show reality we’re all suffering through.
So what are your favorite cultural distractions in 2018?
Is it something you indulge in just for yourself, or when bonding with a friend, partner, or family?
What helps you unplug from reality, while plugging into the wonderful world of pop culture?
If it's a TV show from a decade of yore, how has it held up for you? Has it aged to become a vintage, or do you notice bits that feel awkward or tone deaf in 2018?