For Meghan Daum and her husband, watching television dramas is part of their relationship—and may keep it afloatby Meghan Daum / December 14, 2011 / Leave a comment
Shows like The Sopranos “let us work out our conflicts and moral dilemmas via the safe channels provided by their characters,” says Daum
For the last few months my husband and I have been watching The Sopranos on DVD. Neither of us caught it the first time around. The series aired between 1999 and 2007, years when my husband was working as a journalist in far-flung corners of the world and I (how’s this for an exotic excuse?) was too broke to afford cable. But, as though finally deciding to dig into Shakespeare, we thought it was time we got round to it. We watch about four times a week, usually one but quite often two episodes per sitting. Before we took up with The Sopranos we watched Breaking Bad and Mad Men, in each case first on DVD and then as they aired on TV. Before that we watched all five seasons of The Wire in a three-month period. With all these programmes, we both have dreams about the storylines and talk about the characters as though they were people we know in real life. The other morning, apropos of nothing, my husband yelled to me from the shower “I can’t believe he’s just going around like nothing happened.” I knew immediately he was referring to the Sopranos character Christopher Moltisanti and the recent “whacking” of his fiancée, who’d been talking to the Feds. So ingrained into our imaginative lives have these people become, so much more vivid are their circumstances and narratives than those of anyone we know, we scarcely need to refer to them by their names.
My husband and I have been married for two years and lived together for nearly three before that. The ritualised TV watching began six months or so after we met, when the fervent dinners in dark restaurants that signify new romance began to give way to more quotidian pastimes, namely eating dinner in front of the TV at one or the other’s home. Today, we have our own house with a dining room, but several times a week we carry our plates into the den, fire up the DVD player, and settle in for an hour or more of whatever series has us in thrall. As the designated orderer of the discs, which we rent online, I have an awareness of how many nights’ worth of viewing we have that’s…