Thursday, August 18, 2016

Detectorists and the Wire: "What profit hath a man from all his labor?"

I'm rewatching two of my favorite TV shows, Detectorists and the Wire:
a mild British comedy about two guys who detect for metal in golden Saxon fields, and a harsh US drama about the drug war in grimy, inner-city Baltimore.

I don't like most TV, so why do I love these two?
They seem very different, but I was thinking they have a lot in common.

Trying to pick out some similarities, this morning [no spoilers]:

1. Both shows are about listening, about paying close attention, to uncover hidden things. 
The detectorists listen for beeps that signal they've hit metal, the cops listen to the wire tap on drug dealers, and the dealers listen to the street.
We, the viewers, are rewarded for patient attention too.

2. Related--both shows are …chewy. Chewy is good.
They move slowly--hidden things don't come to light quickly. On second viewing, you see things differently. 

3.  And the characters are complicated. The people in the Wire are under a lot more pressure, naturally, and there are a lot more characters, but the two hobbyists, too, have many working parts.

4. They're about place--layers of lives, cycles of time in one place. 
5. Both shows believe goodness is possible, but life's not fair. 
(Big difference: in comedy, goodness sometimes pays off.)

6. Huh. I guess both shows remind me of Ecclesiastes [link to 21st cent. KJV], with all its contradictions, which can be comforting and disturbing, bitter and liberating

Basically, we don't know squat, life's not in our control, and it's soon over. [The food is terrible… and the portions are so small.]
But since we're here, we may as well play the game.

"… The righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no one knows whether it will be love or hatred; all that is before them."

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