Double feature: If you live in a cold climate, it’s easy to feel stuck at this time of year. The temperatures aren’t exactly encouraging outdoor exploration. Things seem to have shrunk. The world feels reduced to a circumscribed bare minimum circuit between the same points A, B, and maybe C.
That’s where these two TV series may be able to help. Both “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Northern Exposure” take place in small(ish) towns relatively isolated from the broader world. And yet the rest of the world ends up coming to them, allowing the residents of both communities a view wider and deeper than those in bigger circles on the map.
The mechanisms behind this shared dynamic are series-specific. “Buffy”‘s town of Sunnydale, CA is built on a “hellmouth,” you see, so shifts above- and below-ground stir up a broad swath of space, time, and mythology.
Cicely, Alaska – backdrop to “Northern Exposure” – is a bit different: less a demon-free Sunnydale than, to use a metaphor from the series’ final season, part and proof of the “great mushroom” connecting a universe of seemingly separate things. Cicely draws people to it, both to pass through and to stay. The former track the dust of the wider world through its streets, while the latter have the curiosity and resourcefulness not only not to sweep it away, but also to actively seek it out.
There is a lesson in that, one about finding an unbounded set of possibilities within a delineated space, and creating opportunities by digging deep. Watch these series when you feel stuck, even if it’s not winter. Both have enough in them – life-forms, facts, choices, strategies – to suggest a way out.
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “postbear” and “Theresa Carle-Sanders” at Flickr)