next_to_normal: Spike and Dawn looking thoughtful; text: are you pondering what i'm pondering? (Spike/Dawn pondering)
[personal profile] next_to_normal
Is anyone else watching The Affair? The plot is... pretty self-explanatory. It's about two people who are married, not to each other, and having an affair. The initial hook was that each episode was divided into two parts, telling the story from each main character's POV, sometimes repeating the same events but with contradictions or inconsistencies that suggested intriguing things about memory and unreliable narrators. Except by the end of the season, the versions were sometimes SO different that you couldn't tell what actually happened, like, from a basic plot perspective, which ended up just being distracting.

So I wasn't even sure I was going to watch season 2, but then I did, and weirdly found myself most concerned with a totally minor thread in which the main character's teenage son is having stomach aches - like, up until this week's episode, it is not even mentioned often enough to be a legitimate subplot, it literally is just a vague thing happening in the background of the story. To the point that I was seriously questioning myself, like, is the show that boring or am I just that obsessed with digestive problems that I will latch onto any character experiencing them, no matter how minor?

AND THEN THE KID GOES TO THE HOSPITAL WITH A PERFORATED BOWEL AND IT TURNS OUT HE HAS CROHN'S DISEASE AND I'M LIKE, "LOL OMG MY INSTINCTS ARE FLAWLESS."

But then that got me thinking that this is probably the first TV character I have ever seen with Crohn's disease, and in general how rarely we see ANY kind of chronic illness on television that isn't cancer. I mean. other than President Bartlet's MS on The West Wing and Michael J. Fox on The Good Wife (and his short-lived sitcom, where his character also had Parkinson's), can you name any? I sincerely doubt this "kid with Crohn's" plotline is going to become a huge part of The Affair - if it comes up again at all, it'll undoubtedly be only in the context of how his parents handle it, since they're the show's main characters.

Maybe that's because living with chronic illness doesn't fit neatly into a plotline. I mean, cancer has a well-defined arc - it's a character-strengthening battle you either win (yay happy ending!) or lose (tragic death). But most chronic illnesses just go on and on and maybe there are ups and downs, but there's no END (granted, some illnesses are irreversibly degenerative, but it's usually a long-term thing that won't kill you nearly quick enough to be dramatically relevant). The best you can hope for is managing your symptoms, and in general you just live with it every day and it sucks and probably is kind of boring and nothing anyone would want to watch for entertainment. 
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