HBO NOW is the new stand-alone streaming subscription service which allows non-HBO subscribers to watch HBO content. I recently signed up for a free trial. HBO has not been part of our cable service for quite some time now, and I believe the last time we had it, the kids were still young enough that we were muting certain commercials during football games, attempting to protect their young sensibilities! So, HBO wouldn’t have been playing in our home anyway.
What I’m finding in general, so far, is that I’m responding pretty much like I did to House of Cards. Most of the drama series are a little too real and too depressing to enjoy. I suppose that speaks most loudly about where I am with politics (feeling pretty hopeless) and crime (why do we need hour after hour of being bathed in the depravity and death brought about by sociopaths), but I’m not finding these shows resonate at all with me.
I’ve not seen even one minute of Game of Thrones, but that seems to be all the rage these days. Just the little bits I have read about it here and there are pretty horrifying. Bloody massacres, rape, incest? What is happening to us that we find this type of programming compelling?
Sure, the acting in these shows is extremely high quality. One show I did enjoy, and also saw elsewhere, was Enlightened, starting Laura Dern. But, that show was very different from much of the fare that HBO serves up.
So far, I have tried at least one episode of Angels in America, Angry Boys (only made it through five minutes of one episode), Big Love, Boardwalk Empire, Bored to Death, The Comeback (has potential, I think), Doll & Em, Five Days (in conjunction with BBC — only five episodes; watched the whole series), The Newsroom, Sex and the City, and True Detective.
Now, I’ve watched HBO’s The Wire from start to finish, five seasons. It’s all about the drug trade in Baltimore and the police who patrol, arrest, harass, and do what they can to work in such an environment. So, it’s not like I won’t watch a show that has intensity, blood, and darkness in it. But the sheer volume of shows that just pour out death and darkness is really making me wonder what we humans are doing.
What kind of impact is watching these shows having on our young people? Our old people? Our middle-aged people? Do people have any hope anymore?
I wonder what it would take for our culture to roll back the tide of filth and violence. I suppose the first question I need to answer is what result do I want from what I read and watch? There’s a bible verse that says “. . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Whatever one thinks about the bible, one could probably agree that we might be transformed if we began to focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
I’ve given this post a couple of days to sit and settle. While the previous paragraph is all true, many of the books and movies that have impacted me most deeply include pain, suffering, and redemption. So, perhaps the key feature for me is redemption.
By redemption, I mean finding a purpose in the suffering, finding a HOPE in the midst of the difficulties. Some of HBO’s fare has those elements. Some does not. There’s a difference between just wallowing in mud, and looking around for a reason and way to get out of the mud.
We can’t deny the reality of the mud, but we can decide how much time we’re going to spend covered in mud from head to toe.