Life as we know it
I've always been of the opinion that TV shows of the past are best left in history where they belong. Retro is all well and good but the chances are you're a totally different person from the one you were when you first watched and enjoyed the show, so to avoid disappointment, it's best not to revisit.
So it's with some surprise that I find myself at the very edge of exhaustion, with eye bags like suitcases and a deathly pallor thanks to BBC2 showing repeats of This Life back to back at 11.20 in the evening. Once again, Miles, Anna, Milly, Egg,
The repeats are to commemorate the show's tenth anniversary and also lead up to a reunion at Christmas. I'm dreading the reunion because it will probably be shit, but at the same I'm time massively excited. It seems that in ten years, not a lot has changed. The housemates could just as easily be living in 2006, except that there's no way they'd be able to afford that house and nobody's using mobile phones except the drug dealers.
Seeing the show back on TV is a bittersweet experience. When it was first broadcast, I was in my third year at university, living in a pretty run-of-the-mill student house with some friends. I would sit agog at these fucked-up lawyers/ couriers/ receptionists/ café workers and watch their problems unfold with intense fascination. Back then, my biggest ambition was to move to
Ten years down the line and I'm a very different person but the repeat-showing versions of Miles et al are, of course, just the same. I catch things I didn't really get the first time round and find myself identifying with the characters in whole new ways. Milly's awkwardness at simply not being able to stand somebody for no particular reason is something that happens to me a lot. Anna's still great but can be a performing seal at times: a quip here and a putdown there rather than talk about what's really bothering her. Egg is still an idiot. Ten years ago I wanted to kill him for his stupidity and I still do. And yet his bursts of determination and energy, followed by feelings of hopelessness, despair and the inevitability that few of his dreams will ever become a reality, make me feel sorry for him.
I'd forgotten how much I'd loved this show until I started watching it all again. The plotlines have come back to me as if they were family memories. I'm not so stupid as to think that the reunion is in any way a good idea. The original creator is back at the helm despite having nothing at all to do with the far superior second series and I can envision lots of things being 'resolved', which just doesn't happen in real life. As much as the viewing public may long for the reunion to end with Miles and Anna getting together at last, if they did it would defeat the whole point of the show: that life can be cruel and things usually don't work out for most of us, least of all five neurotics in a house in Southwark.
It says a lot for the current TV output that the best thing being broadcast at the moment is a ten-year-old drama about absolutely nothing. The BBC's bizarre decision to put the show on as a double bill ending at around 12.40 in the morning is giving me the most horrendous eyebags; I think I've aged ten years just watching it for the past three or four weeks.