We all have them, don’t we? Sometimes they’re met, sometimes they’re not.
(I’m obviously dealing in commonplaces here.)
But just because they’re expectations, they don’t have to be positive ones. I mean, Saturday night, I was really looking forward to SNL because of Lena Dunham. Not because I like her, but I was really anticipating/hoping for a train wreck. I’ll grant you, this isn’t like waiting for a unicorn to pass by; I mean, the odds of an episode of SNL being a train wreck are about as large as water being wet. It just happens. (Although, inevitably, when I read the online reviews and recaps of the episode, if they’re not raves, they’re at least positive enough to make me wonder just how bad an episode has to be in order for these reviewers to admit how awful it was. I further wonder if maybe all the funny gets somehow sucked out of the episode in its journey from the East coast to the West.)
Anyway, the episode was bad, but my expectations weren’t met – for the most part – it was more dull than a catastrophe, so it was disappointing. There are few things more satisfying than seeing something like that really go into the toilet. There’s just something I find appealing about flop sweat.
There are, of course, positive expectations. I mean, the majority of what we’re looking towards for ourselves is hopeful. Unless you’re a masochist, I can’t imagine hoping that a situation you’re about to be in goes horribly wrong. I suppose if it’s something you’re not looking forward to – an obligation of some kind – you might want it to go south for entertainment value or to justify your apprehensions, but for the most part, we want thing to go well for ourselves. As I mentioned last time, I’m on the verge of a couple of things – one of which I started the process on last night – for which I’m harboring positive expectations.
But here’s the thing: I’m hopeful on these things, but don’t want to talk about them for fear of jinxing them. I’m not a superstitious person – for the most part. I mean, I don’t believe in theatrical jinxes (mentioning “Macbeth” or whistling backstage) or fear the number 13, but I do throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it, will knock on wood (or, actually, my head …), and it took me a long time to walk under ladders – sometimes that last is just unavoidable. On the other hand, I know the things I do while watching a baseball or football game on television will affect the outcome. The upshot here, though. is don’t expect me to talk about those things I’ve got in the works until they either come through or crap out – and even then, it may be a while before I know any of it.
The thing that got me thinking about all of this is that there are even things we’re anticipating for which we have no expectations. I’m particularly in mind of this today because of last night’s finale of “True Detective.” Like a lot of folks, I’ve followed the show with interest. The show was so extreme and so crazy at times that there were any number of ways the final episode could have gone.
Now, I won’t go into spoilers – although I’m firmly of the school that believes that, once a show has aired, it’s fair game. (Although I’ll never forgive Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times for revealing the murderer in the first season of “Veronica Mars” in a completely unnecessary – and even tangential – way before I saw the episode. Granted, I was watching reruns between seasons one and two, but her revelation was absolutely shoehorned in with no warning.) What I will say, though, is that the way the finale of “True Detective” played out was something I never would have expected and left me kind of dumbfounded. I rushed to the recap sites – yes, the same ones I consult to gauge their opinions of SNL – in order to see what they thought and what it all meant. I have an idea, but am not quite sure yet. It’ll take more rumination and study before I come to my own decision.
One thing that was especially nice about it, though, was that it wasn’t anything that I “expected” and didn’t tie things up nicely, simply, and easily. It was difficult and was designed to provide thought and conversation, and that’s a nice change of pace in modern mass entertainment.