Saturday, February 23, 2008

Our House: A good play, a few years too late

[Ed. - This post contains spoilers for Our House, a play by Theresa Rebeck that premiered at the DCPA. I decided not to publish until the Denver run concluded to avoid giving away the plot. You've been warned.]

I liked Our House a lot while I was watching it. The writing was snappy. The direction was gripping. The actors were committed. The moral - TV is bad, TV news is worse, and reality TV will rot your brain - was right out of a college lecture on hyperreality, but it's a good lecture and I needed to hear it again.

Still, there was something that bothered me about the play. And reading through my playbill, I figured out what it was. I'd watched Our House's world premiere. But it didn't feel current.

Ken at Pure Thinking was all over an article titled "Young prefer MySpace to TV." He wrote:

When asked how they would rather spend 15 minutes, 45% of this age group answered social networking sites, surpassing watching TV, reading, talking on the phone, or playing video games.

Today, wannabe celebs turn to the Internet, not broadcast. (See: Samberg, Andy and Tequila, Tila.) So when Our House's Merv started blowing away his roommates, I expected him to put video on his YouTube channel. When he demanded to talk to the news anchor who hosts his favorite reality show, the play seemed dated.

This thread points out that Our House was inspired by the story of Julie Chen, who anchored the CBS morning news and has hosted Big Brother since 2000.

2000. That's sounds about right. Eight years ago, Our House might have been vital. But today Real World is in it's 19th season and nobody I know trusts the TV for news anyway.

For me, the play felt like a look back at a quaint time when TV still ruled.

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