Doctor Who is Adults Playing
What's at least as much fun as a bag of Wienerdogs?
The TV show Doctor Who.
It's fun, playful and full of wonder, and it's also full of substance and integrity. The hero who won't use weapons or violence, but is always using knowledge, intelligence, empathy and compassion to help save the day/earth/starship/planet/universe/alternate universe/species. Who even after several lifetime's worth of disappointments and hurts is still seeking out new experiences, connecting with new people and enjoying what life has to offer with wisdom-tinted optimism.
I recently came across a great quote from the show:
When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.
Doctor Who (Love and Monsters)
I couldn't believe it when I saw the very first episode of the new run, starting with Doctor #8. Too often there's this divide: serious fiction with substance, and fun fiction without. And too often the serious stuff carries the adult oppression message: life is a hopeless series of tragedies and then you die wounded from it; the lighter stuff holds out a mindlessly optimistic cheery message that good always triumphs just because it's good. One beats you down with inescapable misery and the dark side of human nature, the other makes false claims that can only lead to tremendous disappointment and cynicism when life doesn't live up to them.
Why is tragedy always considered high art, and comedy always labelled low entertainment? Because a tragedy is supposed to teach us something about life—a reality about it. And comedy is supposed to provide escape from it. But maybe humor, fun, play and laughter aren't escapes and diversions, but important truths themselves. Just truths we have decided to discredit as juvenile and leave behind as adults. Tears aren't real and laughter frivolous—tears and laughter both need to come in equal measure for a healthy, balanced life. We not only need to know how bad it can get, we need to feel how good it is in equal measure for things like perspective and wisdom.
Back to Doctor Who and Rose. Here was a show combining both. And as it went on it wasn't getting cancelled! It just keeps attracting more and more viewers who love it. Personally, that gives me hope.
Life is hard, and full of people hurting others, and life is good with people doing so many good things. Bad things will always keep happening, and good things will always keep happening. Each episode trucks with both, but ultimately the story lines do try to delve thoughtfully and rationally into keeping the bad and the dark and the hurt from turning you into a bitter, disillusioned, damaged person causing even more hurt. And part of that is to keep a firm grip on taking pleasure in what life has to offer. Which the Doctor does. And which we fans get to do by watching and enjoying the episodes.
Thank you to all the writers and people who have made the show the tremendous treat it is. You help keep Adults Playing.
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Amber Michelle Cook's Blog
A call to all grown-ups everywhere: Play!