Sometimes when I’m feeling sad I go to one of the few remaining FYE stores and buy myself a random season of a TV show and then curl up in bed for the afternoon and escape. The selection process is based pretty much solely on price. About a month ago the first season of Everwood was on sale the day that Northwestern’s football team lost badly, so I became the proud new owner of a box set.
I watched Everwood sporadically with my mom when it was first on TV (2002-2006). I remembered the broad outline of the show, Treat Williams played a fancy New York doctor that moved his sullen teenage son and plucky younger daughter to backwoods Colorado, where the weirdly named Ephram falls in love with Emily van Camp. Also Chris Pratt was there. That was all I could recall, but I loved The WB, and the formulaic teen soaps they used to churn out.
Rewatching the first season has been a much more rewarding experience than I could have imagined. Not because the show itself is astounding. In fact it’s overly sentimental and filled with ridiculously staged “impromptu” debates between Williams’ Andy and the rival small town doctor Harold Abbott (Tom Amandes). It has more in common with the schmaltz fest 7th Heaven than Felicity or Dawson’s Creek. But it’s very overwrought-ness is what makes Everwood refreshing .
As Christy Wampole eloquently, if a bit overdramatically, described in the New York Times recently, we are living in an age of irony. Although I have no problem giving sincere gifts or wearing clothes I actually like, culturally I think we all tend to shy away from genuine sentiment. There’s a sense, at least in my experience, that taking a real, non-ironic, stand, even about our own emotions, is terrifying because it opens us up to ridicule. This translates into our TV, there isn’t a successful show on right now that is as nakedly emotional and, more importantly, kind as Everwood was. (With the possible exception of Parenthood.)
What is so great about this cheesy little show is the humanity of the characters and how the writers allowed them to put all their pain and emotional need out on the table without a wink or a raised eyebrow. Emotions in Everwood are dire things, not something to be laughed or sung away, and though I roll my eyes as much as the next cynical Millennial, it can be nice to take a break and visit a place where I’m not expected too, even it is a fictional town where people ignore that Treat Williams looks a lot like a cartoon bear.