Five Dollar Bill


Balance is a good thing. Your mom thinks so, and so does your yoga instructor and your therapist. Equal parts nights in with a good book, weekend brunches with friends and awkward happy hours with strangers that you met on Hinge. Leafy greens, protein and candy bars. Right? No, I’m really asking.

I am a notoriously picky eater, and my evenings are homebody-heavy. But the balance principle does apply to my pop culture diet—if to nothing else. For every trashy beach read, there is an enormous, painfully detailed biography of an early American president that I adore. For every bloody Damages or soapy The Good Wife, there is a confectionary delight I’m watching that’s just—funny.

I did not include New Girl in my recent post about endings. The show wrapped up its fourth season a few weeks ago—and despite all the distracting emotions swirling about Mad Men and noisy love-child theories trending about Game of Thrones, I’m still thinking about the final scene of New Girl. It didn’t press the same buttons as the heady, ambiguous endings I wrote up last week—New Girl satisfies different, but equally important, intellectual and emotional needs of mine.

Like every pseudo-hipster smarty-pants girl, I’m not a huge fan of Zooey Deschanel. But New Girl isn’t about Jessica. At least, not the way that Mad Men is “about” Don Draper. New Girl is an ensemble show. It’s about a friend-group dynamic. One that is ultimately supportive, loving and heart-warming. And always. ALWAYS. Hilarious.

I laugh out loud when I watch New Girl. Like, all the time. Like, the way I laugh when I re-watch Friends—my ultimate pop culture comfort food. Nick is my Chandler (I secretly love him—because I have a not-so-secret fixer-upper complex). And Schmidt is my Ross—hands-down the funniest character, mostly because he’s unbearable. Schwimmer and Greenfield will probably never live down their fictional assholery.



But you can’t help but root for them because they’re good people, and sometimes you just really want good things happen to nice folks.

THIS HAPPENS SO RARELY IN REAL LIFE, YOU GUYS. Why are some of my favorite girlfriends cursed with toxic relationships, constantly? Why do people get sick? Why did THAT GUY get THAT JOB, and why does THAT GIRL making so much more money than I do?!

When my mind buzzes with questions like these, an episode or two of True Detective or Breaking Bad are not. Uplifting.

Then, Chandler proposes to Monica. Or Phoebe has her triplets. Or New Girl delivers a moment like the five dollar bill. For those of you who saw the season four finale, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes a scene and a line are so perfectly crafted, genuinely delivered, and shamelessly designed to trigger all the happy feelings that it’s basically unfair. It made me cry. Alison cried too!

But so NECESSARY. Love does happen! People do grow up, even in the admittedly limited scope of a 22-minute sitcom. I am totally okay with being manipulated in this manner.

Because I need it! And it’s too easy to forget that acts of kindness and heroism are just as real as random disasters. These moments remind us that the world, while generally unfair, does redeem itself. Even Don Draper and Peggy Olson got (some of) what they (probably) wanted in Sunday’s Mad Men finale. Voilà—balance.

These shows are important to me—not because I believe that television equals life, and that my experience will fit neatly into a three-act structure with a tidy, satisfying ending. It’s important because I believe in balance. I believe in surrounding myself with art and culture and people that both challenge and comfort me. And that buried deep in my ooey gooey heart—though I HATE to admit it—I love a happy ending.



Stream Me!

Let’s pretend, for a second, that HBO and Netflix are two of the more important relationships in my life.

I know, what a stretch!

Beginning next year, HBO will offer unbundled subscriptions to an unnamed streaming service (probably HBO GO, but HBO loves being mysterious, and so, has not specified).

This is, obviously, not an emergency. HBO will not take over the Internet, nor will Netflix go the way of Blockbuster and die a scary, excruciatingly drawn-out death, one strip-mall location at a time. As smarter folks than I have already observed, streaming services are “not a zero-sum game”—there is enough audience to go around. If anything, there’s a surplus of content—and literally not enough hours in the day or platforms in the world to accommodate it all.

HBO GO, Netflix and I spend a lot of time together. And, as my mom might say about my sister and me: I love them both equally, for very different reasons.

HBO GO is like a sophisticated, enigmatic older boyfriend. He thinks he’s smarter than me, but I’m weirdly into that. He’s vaguely pretentious; enjoys both Beyoncé *and* Olive Kitteridge; and eats at fancy restaurants where hamburgers cost $26, but taste amazing. He’s also kind of a dick sometimes.

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Then, there’s Netflix. Netflix is my roommate. She’s seen me stumble in at all hours, jonesing for twenty minutes of mindless entertainment, before passing out on the couch. She’s seen me gross and teary after a date gone horribly awry, and on those Friday nights when I hate people and all I want to do is drink quietly and watch Clueless. She’s hilarious and laid-back and knows me so well (Recommended For You: Profound Indie Comedies Featuring A Strong Female Lead And Many Delicious Baked Goods).


Netflix recently made every season of Gilmore Girls available for streaming—and has announced that it will do the same with Friends. Basically giving me unlimited, on-demand access to all the warm fuzzies and gooey feelings in the land. Why even make in-person friends anymore?

These shows are my security blankets—easy to watch, often hilarious, and have comforted me during some genuinely upsetting moments. Friends and Gilmore Girls are both about building the relationships that matter, and learning from the people you love. Friends is not real life, sure—but the characters care about each other. Speaking as an often cynical, sometimes self-absorbed, always confused twentysomething, that’s not an easy, nor an unremarkable thing.

So, I’ve got my moods: Want to feel smart, but also laugh, but also feel vaguely depressed, and Introspective? The Comeback!

Want to be a little judgy, and get a little trashy, but not care because I’m among friends? The Queen of Versailles! (Documentaries always make you smarter, anyway).

HBO may be a high-maintenance date, and at times confounding (can we talk about The Leftovers? I mean, really—what was that?), but he is always reliable, and has a good heart. Netflix can be a touch cheesy, but is always down for a good time. There’s plenty of love for everyone in my web browser. Amazon and Hulu, included.

So long as my parents don’t change their passwords.