Bitter sweet season finales

I’m feeling a little sad right now and if I told you why you’d laugh.

When I was a kid my Uncle Joe worked for NBC in New York where they filmed many shows from Saturday Night Live, to talk shows and sitcoms to soap operas. He gave us a tour of the studios at Rockefeller Center once when I was about 12 and I remember a particularly funny story he told.

One time he was on the elevator moving between floors when an actor from a soap got on, just off the set and still in costume which was a hospital gown and robe. Apparently his character was in a coma. A woman also riding the elevator exclaimed upon seeing this man, “Oh my! It’s so great to see you up and around!”

The story of course was meant to illustrate just how (ridiculously) some people got into their soap operas. It was something I found hard to understand. Even at that age, I understood the difference between reality and television. Yet here I am mourning the end of another television series; mourning the loss of the relationships I felt I had with the characters.

Like soap opera fans who religiously watched their shows daily, the binge-watching nature of how we now consume television helps us develop more intimate relationship with characters over a short period of time.  

My daughter and I started watching the Netflix’s series Orange is the New Black in January 2015. This was the beginning of our “new normal” and the the start of the first full year without her dad. The show first aired in July 2013, so we had two seasons to catch up on. We didn’t watch it every night, so it filled on an off mother-daughter nights most of that winter.

As new seasons came out we tended to binge-watch, usually completing the entire 13-episode season in less than a week. Then we would wait with anticipation – for a year – for the next season. With us apart last summer, and her at college all year, we watched separately, although every time I heard the familiar theme song start a new episode, I was right back in winter 2015 and thinking about how far we’d come.

The series has now come to a conclusion just as my daughter is getting ready for her second year in college and independent – off campus – living. She is staying in the apartment where I have lived for the last year. One of her suite mates from school last year will be moving in before Labor Day. I am in the process of moving out and in with my boyfriend. This is all bitter sweet.

I thought the show’s creators did an amicable job concluding the story lines and allowing for some happy endings – not an easy task when dealing with the prison population and the formally incarcerated. So OITNB fans, what did you think?

I think it’s going to take some time to get used to these characters not being a part of my life anymore. But the one I’m really going to miss is my daughter. She’ll still need me, sure. And I will come visit a lot and maybe stay over and we’ll do things together, and she will grow and become more of her own person – more independent – which is our goal as parents, no? But this is all bitter sweet.

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The sun rising on new adventures. North Avenue Beach. Chicago, Illinois. August 2019.

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