Friday , May 24 2024
Last night watching TV I realized that everyone needs to be redeemed (some more than others).

TV and the Quest for Redemption

I wonder if I've ever had a more disparate night of television watching. It all started simply and logically enough, with the NY Giants being unable to provide any sort of defensive support to their offense's efforts. From there, it moved on to The 4400, as good a summer sci-fi drama as there is; Curb Your Enthusiasm's season premiere; and the season (and I hope series) finale of The Two Coreys.

Actually, it is a little funny, now that I look at that list of programming — they do all have one thing in common: the quest for redemption.

The Giants, looking to make up for last season’s backing into the playoffs actually proved that they could run a good offense without Tiki and then without Brandon Jacobs. The offense was a huge success, except for that whole injury thing. The defense, however, looked more than a little shaky. So, in terms of redemption, it was a toss-up; the offense redeemed itself, the defense didn’t, and the coaches and their conditioning methods were a huge, disastrous failure.

Thankfully, The 4400 is better when things are left murky. Will Tom Baldwin ever be Tom Baldwin again? Will Isabelle be able to once again come back from the side of future evil (it is, after all, evil from the future that is currently controlling her)? How can she make up for kidnapping Jordan Collier? Last season I really did not enjoy her character, her evil was far too over the top without her ever having been truly established as anything more than evil. However, now that she is a “good guy” or at least was until evil Tom Baldwin forced her to do things she ought not, she is far more interesting. For her the entire season has been about trying to fix things she did in her past. And, just when she was getting a little too syrupy sweet, along comes evil Tom Baldwin to make her interesting once more. Boy, does Isabelle have a lot to try and redeem in her future.

As for Larry David, I think the genius of the show is that while Larry has a lot that he has to be redeemed for, he has absolutely no interest in garnering redemption. Nor does he necessarily believe he needs it. It is precisely Larry’s willingness to go out and do and say whatever pops into his head at any given second and not care about the results, not in any way feel as though he needs redemption, that makes him funny. It is not that Larry does not care what people think about him, it is just that Larry cannot understand why people do not see things the exact same way he does. What a wonderful world that would be.

Lastly, The Two Coreys' entire season has been focused almost exclusively on redemption. These two ex-teen heartthrobs have spent eight episodes – well, seven plus a clip show – trying to apologize for bad behavior that began almost 20 years ago and prove that they still ought to be in the national spotlight. The coup de grâce here is the final fight between Haim and Feldman, which is a result of Haim daring to insult the honor of Feldman’s wife by referring to her as a “bitch.” Haim’s only goal in the fight was to do everything he could to resurrect his career, which he believes to be inextricably tied to Feldman. Haim knows he has made a multitude of errors and feels the need to pounce on anything that might allow him to prove to Hollywood that he is a viable entity once more. Haim was defending his own personal, newly found honor, and felt his chances being wrenched from him by Feldman’s wife. One can understand his use of language as well as Feldman’s defending his wife (if only the entire episode were not a complete setup by the producer).

It makes me wonder, how much television is about redemption? Once a character achieves redemption are they uninteresting? And, looking beyond Larry on Curb Your Enthusiasm, who on television requires redemption the most?

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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