So today marks the inaugural day of my Funemployment. (Unless you want to be technical/accurate. In which case Friday was officially my first day of Funemployment. Or you could count it from the day we were actually laid off [but told to continue coming to work – “You’re fired! But we don’t know by when, so just keep showing up until we decide you don’t have to anymore.”] in which case we’re like +11 days out) And what better way to celebrate Funemployment than by abusing your eyes with too much TV?
The choices are endless. I could start watching ‘Son’s of Anarchy’ or maybe catch up on the last two seasons of ‘Doctor Who’… But those aren’t the mainstays, the standby’s. The titles that really SPEAK to you when you’re Funemployed.
No, there’s a much better curated selection than that. Below I bring my choicest choices of Funemployment TV. Shows and movies that speak directly to the inner child in all of us who says ‘Work? Pfffft.’
Before Clone High ruined me for animated comedy forever, before Steven Universe re-educated me about the magic that a story can tell in 11 minutes, before Gravity Falls reminded me that The X-Files was an awesome show, there was Mission Hill.
Part of the Detour lineup on Teletoon here in Canada at the turn of millenium, Mission Hill was a show about Andy French, his younger over-achieving brother Kevin, and the friends they share their tenement building with. Rich with social commentary (the show features Gus, easily the most masculine homosexual character ever depicted), full of characters that weren’t stereotypes but weren’t aggressively unique either, the show gave you the chance to laugh at your own misfortune. Relating to Andy, fired early in the shows run, is easy as you follow him through unemployment, self discovery and ultimately to his success at the end of the first season (like so many great shows, there was only the one season). “I’m sober, AND unemployed. There’s no excuse for that.” Is one of the lines that have stuck with me through the years. I take it to heart everytime I drink, or wind up unemployed. This is the show that cemented ‘Horny McWhackWhack’ as a catch phrase, encouraged me to grow two beards if I wanted, and forced me to recognize that there was no glory in being either an under, or an over-achiever. In fact, there was no glory in life at all to these characters. Instead, there was just their reality. They succeeded – Young Kevin manages to get a date with the school nerd so he can fan-boy all over her Oppenheimer-esque father. They Failed – Posey’s massage service offering ‘healing relief’ is typoed to ‘healing release’ with the expectant results. But they continued on. To this day I want to see the second, non-existant season. That’s the mark of a good show.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI
How much really needs to be said here? The pinnacle love song to slackerdom and Funemployment everywhere, The Big Lebowski insists upon its audience that having a job and being a productive member of society is not only highly overrated, but also antithetical to self fulfillment and happiness. Donny WANTS to be more than he is, always trying to be part of Walter & The Dude’s conversations, but the reality is that his attempts are pointless, much like is life. In attempting to expand his friendship with Walter & The Dude, Donny only wastes the fleeting, precious time he has left in the world. Walter & The Dude live in the truth, only on opposite sides. Walter knows there is no meaning, but demands that he make meaning out of what he can control. He doesn’t roll on Shabas, and when a bowling tourney is scheduled on a Saturday, it interrupts his acceptance that he is powerless in this world. Forcing him to confront the fact that he has power, and can make a difference, is not a benefit to Walter. He doesn’t want to control his life, he just doesn’t want anyone else to either. The Dude is the opposite. Any suggestions made by other characters about what he can or should do are just “…their opinions, man.” The Dude knows that the universe will unfold as planned, and it’s better to sit back with a white russian and watch, rather than try to turn the inevitable tide.
More ‘motion comic’ than actual animated show, The MAXX is artist Sam Keith’s comic tour-de-force brought to life. What better symbol for the unemployed than a homeless super-hero? A homeless super-hero with the power of… It’s never really made clear WHAT Maxx’s super-powers are, or if he even has any. What he CAN do, is see things others cannot. Like how that car full of old ladies is really a dozen 1 meter tall homicidal homonculi in disguise. The Maxx (or ‘Dave’ depending on how pedantic you fan-folk want to get) has no dreams or aspirations for the future. His focus is solely on the present, the moment. Protecting his social worker Julie Winters from harm is The Maxx’s chief charge, and he can perform this duty much better in the imaginary, alternate world of ‘The Outback’ than he ever could in real life. ‘The Outback’ is where The Maxx imagines he has influence, an effect, a purpose, because in the real world, reality, he has to accept he has none of these things. The fictional world enables him to undertake things he never could in the real world, because in the ‘The Outback’ Maxx is a warrior hero, while in the real world, he really is just a homeless guy in a mask and suit. To challenge this reality would be to acknowledge its power, thus taking away the power Maxx feels in the Outback. The power of Funemployment is more relevant here than anywhere else.
I might also do a run of The Lord Of The Rings (Extended yo!) and Star Wars (all of it) before Rogue One comes out, because I might just have the time.
So kudos to all you Funemployed folks, you hopes for the future, you kings/queens of… East Van. Here’s hoping we all enjoy our upcoming holidays, without work or guarantees of a better life!