Posted in Of Culturel

Of TV Deaths

I hardly ever pay homage or even refer to the guy that inspired this whole Of Opinions thing – Francis Bacon. Nope, not the twentieth century painter, but the Renaissance essayist. To be fair, all he and I have in common is a tendency to use ‘Of’ in the title, and that too was something I ripped off from him. But, he’s got many, many interesting things to say (though I’m more fun). Like, in his essay Of Death he writes:

MEN fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.

That is so true. You wouldn’t bother so much about death, if it wasn’t around all the time. I prefer reading the news to watching the news. I don’t need to see some grainy footage to be appropriately disturbed by it. Seeing it in my imagination keeps me decently close and far. Horrible things happen, and I should know about them because they happen all around me. But, confronting them isn’t good for my sanity. Not everyone can take it, you know. I certainly can’t.

And so, I like to indulge in a bit of escapism now and then. Many of you know about the weird dreams I get from time to time. After a particularly bad one sometime last month, I decided to substitute dreamtime with primetime. Yes, I decided I’d make use of my dormant Amazon Prime subscription and watch some TV to give my brain some much needed relief. I clicked on Grey’s Anatomy, a popular, long-running show I knew nothing about except the popular character McDreamy, played by Patrick Dempsey.

Initially, it worked. I even had a PG-rated dream about McDreamy. It was a funny show, and though it is about surgery, and hence, there are deaths in nearly every episode, it also gives you the narrative mechanisms to cope with it. I wouldn’t call the episodes I’ve watched as preachy, but all that coping with the cruelties of life was handled rather well, and I’d even say can be applied to real life. A+ from me so far.

Until they killed my favourite character * spoiler alert * – George O’ Malley. With all that perfect McDreamy hair, I didn’t even realise how much I adored O’ Malley. I was truly devastated, as if a great injustice had been done to him.

Now, I’m used to the occasional TV death. I’m not good with them. It takes me absolute ages to watch a Doctor Who regeneration episode – in which they’ve been killing the main character since 1966, to replace him/her with a completely different actor – but, as long as I know it’s going to happen, I’m okay. It always feels more manipulative on TV than in film. Even in the age of unnecessary sequels, you can still not think too much about a character’s death. But, television makes use of your adaptive nature like no other. Because we’re all creatures of habit, we feel as though these make-believe people on that little screen (I watched it on my phone) would go on forever. Heck, I lived with George O’ Malley for only a couple of weeks. I feel bad for those who followed the show from its initial airing on TV.

I had to look up why they did this to the character, to the brilliant actor who played him – T. R. Knight. We’re not a gossip blog here (or for that matter, a TV blog), but man, they could make a show about what goes on behind that show. Sure, all successful shows have their problems behind the scenes, including Doctor Who, but Grey’s Anatomy has been rather unfortunate in having many of them come out in the public.

Still, they killed George. Which is spectacularly unfair.

They also killed Macaulay Culkin in My Girl, but there’s a difference. I actually hadn’t seen My Girl as a child, but over the years I kept hearing jokes about people of all ages being reduced to tears at his death in the film. I decided to see what the fuss is about. It’s the Home Alone kid, how sad can it be? Until, I was bawling my eyes out.

They always get the vulnerable ones. Not the weak ones. The vulnerable ones, who make you love them simply because of how guileless they are. You want to reach into the screen and protect them, because you root for them to survive in this cruel, cruel world. They remind you of the vulnerability in you, the parts you’ve learned to hide, which they bravely expose because they can’t help it. It is bravery indeed, all that embarrassment from living for your true feelings. How is that even possible? Until they remind you that it can’t happen. No wonder they kept calling O’ Malley Bambi from episode 1.

I was sad over this for a surprising number of days, in the age of unbelievable saturation in pop culture, which should appeal to my otherwise mercurial attention span. I’m currently watching another show I adore, but I’d like to steer clear of TV deaths for a while now. After all, I’ve never seen Game of Thrones. You can guess why.

What TV/Film deaths moved you the most? Did you ever watch Grey’s Anatomy?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

10 thoughts on “Of TV Deaths

  1. Never actually watched Grey’s Anatomy other than maybe a few moments in passing. Even though I saw it for the first time years after it had originally run on TV, the death of Lt. Colonel Henry Blake in MASH was very sad. And though it wasn’t a ‘death on camera’ the loss of Nicholas Colasanto, who played ‘Coach’ on Cheers was very hard to take. Looking back at the series now, in his last season he was quite ill, and you could see it in his face. They started writing reasons for his disappearance into the show, but then eventually when Woody Harrelson came in as ‘Woody’ they announced his character had passed away. And it was a genuine moment of sadness for all.

    Also, though cartoons may not quite count, the death of Maude Flanders on the Simpsons was very tough when you think of it due to the randomness of it.

    1. Haven’t seen any of those shows/deaths Robert, but I do understand some of the reasons why they took place. What made me particularly angry about this character’s passing is that the actor faced homophobia on set, decided to come out, and basically wrote his own death sentence for being authentic in his life. His character was literally thrown under a bus in the show! it is okay if someone grows bored of the job, or is ill or has a toxic environment to work in. But the reasons that this actor supposedly quit the show for (and gave up a $14 million contract) are tremendously unfair.

      I hope you’re well. I’ve been missing here for a while, so haven’t been the best with replying to comments.

      1. Hi Amrita. I remember a kerfuffle along those lines awhile back about Grey’s Anatomy, but not understanding the players, it kind of rolled past me. The hard thing in the post-Weinstein era, and even before that honestly, is the realization that the characters you love on a TV show or movie might actually utterly loathe one another off camera. Maybe its contractual envy, or maybe they just rub each other the wrong way yet when the camera is on, they are best friends. It can’t be easy. Even in music. I’m thinking of soul duo Sam & Dave. They gave blistering shows, dripped with sweat, working the crowd into a frenzy. But they grew to dislike each other immensely to the point of not talking after shows and taking separate transportation.

        I’m ok. Going through some stuff which I may or may not write about in future. Its nothing traumatic or anything like that, but it has resulted me in going to see a therapist once a week. Which isn’t a bad thing, and I’m not embarrassed by it, but my mind is all over the place to be honest. I feel a bit of a mess right now. Don’t worry about replies though.You are like me in that I think you feel you must respond to every comment. Which is the polite thing to do of course and keeps the engagement going, but I don’t ever worry about-hmmm Amrita hasn’t replied to my comment, what’s up with that type of thing!

      2. I BELIEVE it is my duty to respond to every comment, or message I get. If someone took the time out to say something to me, it is my responsibility to reply. Even if I use tools on social media, such as a ‘like’ or an emoji. I hate it when ‘big’ bloggers don’t reply, or even acknowledge that they’ve read what you’ve written. How much time does it take to click a like button? I do appreciate that WordPress allows you to not approve of a comment if you want to. Sometimes I get racist or insensitive comments, and I don’t have to bother with them. As you see Robert, I take this very seriously! And you’re an exemplary commenter for not only being polite, but thoughtful with your comments☺

      3. I feel the same way about everything you said. I do like that feature as well here on WP. The few times I have gotten political some inevitable trolls have come out and its like-Sorry! My space my rules! It really is just fundamental to comment on anything anyone comments about regardless of follower count

      4. That’s a huge part of the deal, isn’t it? Actors prefer doing theatre because they make an immediate connection with the audience. You can’t exist in a vacuum, after all. It’s your choice ultimately (as you said, my space my rules) but I think a blog post is only half done if there is no conversation going on.

  2. I think I saw several of the first 2 seasons or so of Grey’s Anatomy – I gather it’s still going and George isn’t the only one to have passed away.
    I likely struggle with the Disney cartoon deaths the most, the first 10 minutes of Up are particularly sad!

    1. Yup, and I do find I struggle more with kids’ content than adults’, and I do wonder why they make so much of it heartbreaking. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Paddington movies (highly recommended) but some of it was quite dark, and my heart almost broke in certain scenes!

  3. I liked this. It’s hard to lose tv people, it is hard to lose book people. Most real people don’t understand this problem. 😁 it’s nice to meet others who do!

    1. Absolutely! Especially because TV characters become real people to you. You probably see them more than real people, invest more in their problems than real people. But, you have to move on. I’m pretty good with that, and have moved on to other shows now!

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