God I love this show. In the midst of reading But to depict the evolution of capitalism as an expression merely of state powers within an inner-state system characterized by competitive struggles for position and hegemony- as tends to happen in much of world systems theory- is far too limiting, and Every society, throughout its history, is caught up in processes of articulation with the elements that compose its social environment – including, cumulatively in space and time, other local communities of broadly similar construction; regional and/or subcontinental political economies; and, finally, global forces and The common material and meaningful framework is, in part, discursive, a common language or way of talking about social relationships that sets out the terms of which contestation and struggle can occur, and a thousand more similar sentences, I finished watching the first and only season of this achingly beautiful, hysterically funny mid-2000s American sitcom, leaving a gaping void in my daily (and nightly) routine.

It was not just the witty dialogue and side-splittingly comedic situations which appealed to me. What set it aside from the more tedious shows which run on to eleventy-million episodes were the similarities between the Barnes family and my own: the over-achieving hyper-successful parents who only live and breathe to see their children replicate the same professional success which they acquired, the strong sibling love and rivalry between their three adult children as they bicker and jostle for their parents’ attention. Oh yes, and the fact that they all have, by hollywood definitions, failed, broken, random love lives, none of them conforming to the  standards of “True Love” and “the One”, which has been rammed into our brains again and again -and again- since we first developed consciousness of the adult world.  But somehow, it doesn’t matter, because “they have each other”, and that none of them seem to be able to hold on to the same partner for a week has no importance by the side of  their warm glow of familial love; their joy at being together.

The show opens with the wife of the youngest sibling leaving him, while the family dance with joy. Now I wonder who that reminds me of??? How about the mother who continuously guilt-trips her children into spending time with her? The short powerful father whose love and adoration for his children shimmers like a sun over their lives?

But it is not that close a parallel to my family life after all. The Barnes family live close to each other: three of them live in the same building, while four of them work in the same hospital. They eat at the same diners, go to the same social and work events, go on vacations and trips together. My heart aches, my soul burns with jealousy. Last night I dreamt I was at a conference, staying at a beautiful hotel with my mother. How fair can it be, that we, real people, must suffer this separation and distance, while the fictional Barnes family get to frolic together to their hearts’ content? Is this the real message of the show?  That such love and togetherness can only exist in the imagination?


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