I get addicted easily, be it to TV programmes, a particular album, person, comedian or whatever. I’ve always been like that and hopefully will forever. It can be maddening when the addiction is over a person, sickening when it concerns gambling or monumentally time-wasting when it centres around comedians or TV programmes. Yet it feels fantastic to be passionate about something.
The one TV programme that has addicted me more than any other returns to the TV tonight for a one-off show. This Life had such an impact on me that I can still remember things that happened in my life, based solely on their happening coinciding with various episodes of the programme.
Indeed, I think that is partly why it struck such a chord with me. Shown in 1996 and 1997, the story of twentysomethings leaving university and trying to find some sort of direction in life struck a chord with me, as that was just what I was doing. Yeah, of course my life wasn’t as fucking glamorous as being a high-flying lawyer in London, but the fecklessness and cack-handed approach the characters took to facing the new challenges in life rang true. Even if you’d never been a lawyer, a gay man with self-esteem problems, a confused bisexual or a bolshie Glaswegian, it still seemed utterly convincing in its writing.
The characters aren’t even particularly likeable; Egg is the nicest but also frustratingly capricious; Miles is a self-centred snob; Anna’s belligerence doesn’t fully hide her self-absorption; Milly is a borderline control-freak who cheats on Egg; and so on. But this is the main strength of the series; the characters are presented with a depth and are all given the sort of complexity that people in real life have. Most TV drama series have characters easily labelled as Mr.GoodGuy or Mr.NastyBastard, but This Life was happy to say that some times these people are nice and sometimes they’re bastards. Just like you and just like me. So you forgive them their faults and generally root for them. This shows itself in the fact that Rachel (played by the lovely Natasha Little) is seen as the villain when she really shows no greater personality flaws than any of the other main characters.
I used to watch This Life about once a month in the late nineties, in lieu of actually sorting my own life out and doing something with it. Addiction can be a bad thing. The videos were almost worn out, and I’d choose This Life as my mastermind specialist subject. Fuck, I have the DVDs now, I know that as soon as I hear the theme tune tonight that I’ll be falling back into that world where a whole weekend goes in a This Life marathon.
So, I’ve been largely excited about tonight’s show. But it is also mixed with a bit of trepidation. Can it ever match up to what I want? What do I want? Is it ever wise to tinker with something that was perfect?
I’ll let you know tomorrow.