It’s no secret that writers and directors play favorites. Just think of the number of collaborations between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. Plenty of other directors have done it, but those two pairings came to mind. Whatever, that’s not the point. Directors have been doing it for years and I’m sure they’ll continue to do it for years to come.
The question is, what happens when we eneter the realm of television. I’m not talking about the likes of Aaron Sorkin who has continued to use Sports Night alums throughout The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. See, he’s got the green light because he did it over the span of three separate series.
No, what I’m talking about is a very specific type of pet peeve about the reality of television shows. I know it may seem a little ridiculous to throw around words like “reality” and “television”, when not talking about Survivor or Top Chef at least, but it plays an important role. It always seems like the viewer enters into an unspoken contract with a television show to suspend disbelief and accept this as the world we live in for however long the show may be. But what happens when the show itself doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain?
The show that comes to mind is Gilmore Girls. Go ahead and laugh, I’m used to it by now. For whatever reason, it may have been the writing of just Lauren Graham, but I was always a fan of that show, as long as we avoid discussion of its final season. There’s one episode where Jess runs away to California to reunite with his dad or whatever. I’m just now realizing how lame this sounds as I type it. Anyways, it never really becomes a problem for the show until much later in the series when Luke finds out he has a kid. Okay, seriously, this show does not lend itself to synopses because that too sounds incredibly lame.
Anyway, what’s the big deal with these two entirely different storylines? The actress. Sherilyn Fenn plays both roles, even though we’re talking about the same “reality”, she is assumed to be two different people. I don’t know what kind of thought went into this choice, but does nobody else see the problem with the logic here? If she’s one chick in California, it’s not like she becomes a completely different person in Connecticut.
That being said, it might be forgivable if the material had been handled better. For starters, Sherilyn Fenn has a distinctive voice which doesn’t help matters, but whatever, it is what it is. It’s the minimal changes that they make to the actress that are most irritating. When she’s Jess’s step-mom in that episode, she has short bleach blond hair. When she’s the father of Luke’s child, she’s got longer brown hair… and those are about the only two differences. It’s just kind of insulting. I mean, the show comes up with clever banter for the two leads week after week, but the best they’re willing to afford their viewers is a bad dye job?
But to be fair, Gilmore Girls isn’t the only show that’s ever done it. It’s annoying when any show does it. I mean, like I said before, it breaks the rules of television. Now I know it sounds strange that there would be rules to TV, but ask just about anyone and they’ll tell you that there are just some things you don’t mess with when it comes to their TV shows. For me? It’s as simple as don’t cast the same person in different roles in the same show twice and expect me to believe they’re two different people.