You may have guessed between all the reading, writing and chasing after kids I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV. The first six months after my son’s birth was filled with feedings every two hours or less and Netflix was my bestie, even at 3 am.
My daughter was a much better sleeper and not nearly as hungry of a baby, but I still watched some TV in the evenings with my husband. When she was about 8 weeks old, she started sleeping through the night, and we moved her from the bassinet in our room to my son’s room. A blissful two months followed and then my son began what I have now, after four years, accepted as his fall routine. He goes to bed insanely early; I push him to 6:30 pm. My daughter was not going to bed that early. When we tried to put her down at her usual time, we’d wake my son up. But neither were my husband and I going to bed as early as she. When put in our room, we’d wake her up when coming to bed. So, we had to move her bed to the living room. For about a year my husband and I were locked in our room, unable even to get a snack, after about 8 pm.
I had already discovered JAFF reading during my daughter’s pregnancy, but no TV at all occurred around the same time I began writing. Now I’ve accumulated 23 stories in a little over a year, granted many of them are about 2,000 words or less. (This does not include my unfinished pile. I’ve got half a novel just waiting for me to have time to pick it up again…)
Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’ve realized when I couldn’t watch my favorite sitcoms, I wrote them instead.
The other night I had finished a manuscript and sent it off to the editor. I decided to give myself the rest of the night off. That didn’t last and before too long I had my notebook out but I did let myself watch some TV (we’ve moved and my daughter now has her own room). I caught the tail end of an “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode and then “The King of Queens” came on. Yes, I was watching TV Land. I don’t have time to keep up with new shows and a story arc I won’t be able to watch again next week.
I went from identifying with the Barones and their parents that live across the street—I never know when my perfect sister-in-law is just going to show up with some kind of food—to the Heffernans with the obnoxious dad that lives in the basement—due to a financial set back a few years ago we moved in with my father-in-law. It occurred to me that what appeals to me in both these shows and Austen’s books is the situational comedy of family life.
Austen always has embarrassing and/or exasperating relatives. Perhaps Mr. Darcy would feel encouraged by knowing the fear of terrible in-laws has a thriving life even in the 21st century. Austen’s heroes and heroines are just as flawed and capable of misunderstanding one another, even when it seems to be against their character to do so, as contemporary sitcom couples. Such as a man who writes for a living can lack the right words to say to his wife; or a man who is overweight may think his wife needs to lose a few pounds. A woman who is by far the most “normal” one of the group can resort to losing her mind over her mother-in-law asking for a spoon back; or a woman who is usually sharp tongued can feel hurt by her husband’s inconsiderate words.
But you know what? No matter how flawed and even, at times, uncaring they are, both Austen and my favorite sitcoms show me families that come together and love each other. It may not always be unselfishly, but they do love each other. That’s a valuable lesson to learn as I consider my own family, my in-laws and wonder what the future may hold for my children. I can almost promise I will be neither Mrs. Bennet nor Mrs. Barone…
As Elizabeth Ann West posted the other week, JAFF is like the Austen channel that never ends. I don’t think I do drama particularly well, nor am I super sweet. I wouldn’t say I’m very funny, but maybe I can offer up some good sitcom stories to which readers can relate.
Some examples from the Fairbanks Daily Sitcom:
What happened when I wrote 800 words in an hour during quiet time about Wickham’s evil schemes and the preschooler apparently wanted a sandwich without telling me. He even tried to make coffee for me.
Just your average routine restroom break gone awry:
Do you have a favorite sitcom character? Do you see any similarities between them and your favorite Austen character?