Or: Why I Want To Watch TV with President Bill Clinton
(I like Bill, and I feel no disrespect in addressing him in such a familiar fashion because we really are buds ~ I hope you don't either because I can't sit next to him on the sofa and say, "Mister President, would you please pass the Cheetos?")
Bill is called lots of things, a Lady's Man, a Man's Man, a scoundrel, a cad, a good leader, a bad leader, a liar, one of the most charismatic men of our times... But to me, Bill's a man. A very cool, intelligent, charming man who has more in common with the 'every man' than most acknowledge.
Bill, it has been noted, is a fan of TV. In an age where it may not be considered cool to watch TV, let alone admit it, Bill does. Maybe it's some left over humility from the Monica thing, but he's just not going to play hip and say he's "too cool for the idiot box" or lie about his habits and what delights him. He, like millions of us, not only watches TV but enjoys it. And he's willing to say so. But that's not why I want to watch TV with Bill.
I understand Bill. I get why a person in power can feel awfully lonely and that sex isn't just about body parts but a desire for intimacy. In fact, you need not be a person in power to feel lonely. We all feel that way. But not all of us admit it. Here's where Bill isn't so much the 'every man,' but the more rare, and interesting, 'unusually aware man.' He must be. Why else would he say that his favorite show is Grey's Anatomy? Or that the dynamic between James Spader (as Alan Shore) and William Shatner (as Denny Crane) on Boston Legal is, "something to behold"? He says so, because he knows longing, loneliness and the quest for real relationships which is fundamental to humanity.
In truth I've been meaning to write about Boston Legal for quite sometime now ~ and just for those reasons. The casting, the characters, the writing etc. are amazing. Each word spills with perfection from lips and faces in what can only be described as sublime. Hysterically funny, satirical, clever, snarky, biting, scathing, and also remarkably wise, tender, sexy and touching. It's both the sweet and the salty ~ it's The Chocolate Covered Pretzel of Television Programming. It truly is, in its entirety, a masterpiece. Art.
Grey's Anatomy is similar in these ways. I would call it too "The Chocolate Covered Pretzel of Television Programming." (I am trademarking that!) No one on earth cries like Izzy (Katherine Heigl). When Christina (Sandra Oh) cracks, it hurts me too. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is all that I want to be when I grow up. There are strong people with weaknesses, weak people with strength, bad choices for all the right reasons, good decisions which are mistakes, and it oozes with humanity and relationship issues. Not to detract from Grey's in anyway, but it's written about every three seconds. And Boston offers something a bit more rare...
Like a pretzel dipped in dark chocolate, Boston Legal offers more than a glimpse into male relationships ~ it's the show's very core. Nowhere is the wit, the insight, the humanity, more brilliant than in the relationship between Spader and The Shat; they are the heart.
While Spader and Shat's characters are an unlikely pairing (not just opposing political or cultural value view points but their set-in-their-ways mentality keeps them rather closed-minded about other points of view), their connection points are so strong that they've forged something most of us only dream about.
Here you have two men, each powerful and with large egos, who find themselves with something so precious, so wonderful, that when others enter into their circle, they behave like jealous lovers. It's obvious that their friendship is the most powerful relationship they've ever known ~ are likely to know.
While most of us walk or slither this earth looking for a soulmate, and expect that the only way to have such relationship is via sex, these two men have found it, without sex, in eachother. Both screamingly hetero, and often in the most comical and smarmy ways of the Testosterone buffoon, their love and affection transcends sex. To be sure there are a few jokes between them regarding taking things to 'that level.' They joke of it, mock themselves even. But beneath this joking is the wonder... If this relationship is so deep, committed, comfortable-yet-soul-filling, enjoyable and needed, could there be more? Should there be more? Can you even dare to imagine more?
Sometimes I watch this show for the last few minutes alone; the moments when these men are alone on their balcony sharing. I don't say this to diminish the rest of the show, cast or plot; but just as millions of us watch Grey's for the main character story arcs which surpass the episode plots of medical madness and methods, so I watch Boston Legal for the tenderness between Shatner and Spader. No where else do you see such devotion ~ and from such seemingly unlikely (crass, comical, macho, rude, obnoxious) men. And the majority of it unfolds on this balcony romance (for that's truly the best way to describe it) in the last few minutes. Nearly every time it has brought me to tears, sobbing even; it is that beautiful.
Don't we all long for such relationships, such moments?
The fact that Bill, a man who could easily be one of these characters (having the ability to buffoon his charming self in and out of bad choices in his search for true intimacy), gets this relationship is wonderful. I bet if we both sat down to watch together, if I snuck a peek at him through my tearfilled eyes during those balcony chats, I'd see Bill with teary eyes as well. And damnit if I don't want to pass him a tissue and hug him for showing such emotion ~ for responding to such romance... For seeing and recognizing himself ~ all of us ~ in all of this.
Bill's a sexy, confident man; a powerful man; a man with a sense of humor. And he's a man who recognizes and identifies with longing, hope and human connections. Yeah, I could totally curl up with him on the sofa and watch Boston Legal. And if he wants me to play hide the cigar ~ euphemisticallyy, as I don't love big tobacco that much ~ I'm open to it. I'm sure CR/LF will understand. (He's already promised that I may partake of a Shatner-Spader sandwich, should the opportunity arise, so this likely won't be a problem.)
I should also mention that Bill and I both dig the fact that the leads on Boston Legal are not spring chickens. Sure there are some hot and attractive youngsters on the show. But Spader, Shatner, and Candice Bergen (as lust-duel-worthy Shirley Schmidt) are all deemed sexual beings ~ and isn't it about time that this reality was shown?
So, Bill, every Tuesday night, you're welcome at Gracie's house. And Thursday's for Grey's too. (I'm happy to pass you the tissues when you cry, the Cheetos during the funny parts ~ and I know that, like I, you too are a fan of Callie's figure.) Hillary is welcome, if available. You know, if she watched with us, we could help her with her image problems... I know her heart's in there, she just needs to put it on her sleeve. We'll help her find it... On the sofa between Bill & Gracie, watching Boston Legal and Grey's Anatomy.