Getting to the Airport and Other Actions That TV Completely Misrepresents
If only life were as easy and carefree as it is on TV. If only we all looked like Kit Harington and Thandie Newton. If only every time we went to the airport it was as carefree as those on screen get to experience it. Not only do the characters in our favourite sitcoms and dramas get to race through security willy nilly, but they also get a whole host of preferential treatment that Muggles like us can merely dream of. It’s like they’re living in a fictional world or something…
Kidding aside, we don’t often watch TV to be reminded of the blindingly boring events of everyday existence, like waiting in line at the ATM or moving through security checks. But when we are watching something and it completely misrepresents those things to the point that we’re taken out of the story, it matters. The following items are other such areas and happenings which TV regularly gets wrong, and even though I don’t think this article will prove to put a stop to said monstrosities occurring on screen, it’s kind of nice to know you’re not alone in noticing them, right? And it certainly feels good to vent regardless.
Being at The Airport
Starting with the eponymous issue at hand: the airport. A place in real life which has as many rules and regulations as Game of Thrones has viewers, but in TV land it’s an altogether more palatable space to inhabit. The rush to the airport is something most people have done in real life but when compared to to its televisual counterpart, it’s an entirely different proposition. Rushing to the airport in real life means you miscalculated your journey to the airport, woke up late, or watched one too many episodes of Deal or No Deal. When a character rushes to the airport on TV, it is almost certainly to pursue the one they love who is leaving on a jet-plane, most probably not knowing when they’ll be back again. This gesture, although super romantic in theory, isn’t really feasible for us everyday beings as it’s a nightmare to park, legitimately impossible to pass through security and, actually, no. It’s impossible to get through security so there’s no point listing a third reason.
But apparently to counteract that very clear obstacle, you can just buy a ticket and skate on through, like Ross chasing after Rachel in Friends. Some say you can’t put a price on love, but Ross put down a healthy deposit at least. And while we’re on the subject of tickets, money seems to be no obstacle for our beloved sitcom characters when it comes to flights either. As for when they make the far too common mistake of missing their flight (jeez guys get Google Maps) they just demand a ticket for the next plane with little to no thought. Because despite having seemingly normal jobs like bartenders, teachers and police officers, they have an unlimited fund for buying airline tickets minutes before the flight, when prices are sure to have rocketed up. Have they never heard of SkyScanner? And don’t even get me started on the scene where the eponymous New Girl, Jess sweet-talks an airline ticket agent to get her friends on a flight, because if we pretend for a second that those agents have that power, we all know that they don’t have the human ability for compassion.
Ordering Food and Drink
Meeting friends in bars and restaurants is one of the working week’s few delights, an event that is sure to enlighten the most terrible of days at your workplace. They present a good opportunity to catch up with friends, as you reminisce over some great food, drinks and a memory or two. This delightful meet-up is just as common on television, and a lot of the time, downright essential to the TV show itself, try and imagine an episode of Seinfeld without the gang meeting up at Monk’s Café. So while this trope is not inexplicable or hard to understand in the slightest when done right, there are a number of times where it gets it oh so wrong.
A character turns up to meet their friend, who has specifically requested they meet them at that time and place. They’ve probably had a bit of an ordeal getting there; maybe a couple of buses, had trouble finding parking, or god forbid, even had to scramble around for a babysitter! But just as they finish sitting down and ordering a delicious offering from the sparkling menu, your so-called friend has finished regaling you with the nugget of wisdom they were so desperate to share, and then they stand up and leave, approximately 2 minutes into your supposed catch-up. Oh, they’re not being completely rude by stiffing you with the bill or anything, they’ll leave money. They just don’t want to wait for what they’ve ordered. Meaning when the poor waiter or waitress returns with the just-ordered food, there will be no one there. And while that sounds like a good old deal for the waiter at the start, imagine if everyone in this televisual universe did that, which by copious examples, they apparently do.
“Could you not have just told me this on the phone? Ahh I guess, this location does look better than the same room as the last scene, you’re right. Well, good to see you for literally 97 seconds, bye best friend. Thanks for the plot development.”
– Every character ever, all TV shows
Having Clean Spectacles
Now for a slightly more niche example but one that all glasses wearers are sure to have spotted on their favourite characters, clean spectacles. Having worn corrective lenses since I was the tender age of 13, I have a bit of history with cleaning my glasses. And by history I mean, not doing it nearly as much as I should. The little goggles are very easy to sully and get dirty very quickly, but in my working day I can honestly say that cleaning them to the extent in which they appear on TV is something I only do when it is legitimately hampering my vision. Sure I’ll give them a wipe throughout the day, but the deep clean which results in the spotless specs on TV is a very rare occurrence throughout the day. So unless the glasses-wearer is seen first thing in the morning, when we’re more likely to add it into the getting ready ritual, a pair of flawless spectacles are a surefire way to be taken out of the believability of the scene. Sometimes shows get around this by simply having a character wear lensless glasses, which is obviously a much more normal happening and doesn’t bother viewers at all…
Now this one seems fairly obvious but, when I usually drink coffee (other hot beverages available) I tend to enjoy having actual real-life coffee in my cup, rather than the televisual alternative of air. Now, I’m yet to try this creative take on the hot drink, but I can’t imagine it tasting anywhere near as good. Though this happening is completely understandable as the actors’ can only take in so much liquid in one sitting as they do multiple takes, the fact that we can almost always see into their mugs just makes the annoyance of noticing it unavoidable. A problem not usually had with beer as we need to see the progression of it being drunk. This problem with coffee is something that can be avoided a number of ways; from putting lids on the take-away mugs, simply not going for coffee, and my personal favourite of having the actors spit the exact amount back into the cup each time.
In direct opposition to my earlier example of possessing perhaps the world’s dirtiest glasses™, this example is one I have no personal knowledge of, but somehow it still strikes me as infuriatingly unrealistic. You’d think that considering we are now more than 20 years from the technological marvel of 1995’s Hackers, filmmakers would learn to taper their creative urges when portraying hacking on screen. With the exception of Mr. Robot, most TV shows display hacking as being about one degree from Minority Report. A recent offender in this respect is season two of House of Cards where the hacker is seen to have a gazillion screens open as he breaks through the system, typing away furiously as if his life depends on it. When realistically he’d be moving at his own pace in a piece of work that likely takes far longer than it appears on screen. While the results garnered would almost always be underwhelming text files and possess no exciting graphics, but that doesn’t stop TV going for the money shot anyway.
While ultimately we don’t watch television for complete and utter realism, and rarely does full realism really enhance our viewings, the complete flouting and disregard of it can do the opposite. If we see someone go to the Post Office and not have a useless person ask what they want to do within five seconds of entry, we question their reality. If we see someone wake up with perfectly coiffed hair, and not double Wolverine tufts on each side, then we start to see the characters as actors. And if we see a 6 month baby be passed around a hospital room directly after giving birth, we lose any semblance of engagement within that universe. We just want to escape our mundane lives for an hour or two and forget that we have to wake up at an ungodly hour tomorrow. Instead, these egregious examples leave viewers sitting there and begrudging the beautifully maintained stars in front of us, wishing we had their impeccable hairlines and bottomless disposable income. Well, for a few seconds anyway, before we put on the next episode. Regardless of how many times our favourite shows have made mistakes like these, and no matter how many times more they do, we’re still going to watch them, right? I mean, it’s not like we’re going to go outside or something.
What do you think? Leave a comment.