The 3 Most Poignantly Sad TV Moments

15 Dec

For some masochistic reason, several friends and I discussed the saddest TV moments, episodes and series that we could think of. The usual culprits; ER, Grey’s Anatomy, The OC, Buffy, My So-Called Life and others were all there. Believe me, TV is no stranger to tugging at your emotions. I think Erin (@entertainocd) may end up doing a blog post on it so I won’t go into too much detail. I only wanted to comment on three moments.

There are quite possibly sadder moments or moments that affect you more greatly. For me though, three moments stand out for their honesty. You see, music, body language, the right dialogue, all of these things can bring me to tears. They’re all common ploys of the entertainment genre. But I think the ones that ring the most true are the ones that are the most honest. And usually, that means there are no answers.

The first moment for me is really more of a collection of moments from Friday Night Lights “The Son” episode. Matt Saracen has to deal with his father’s funeral who has died as a soldier. The poignancy, for me, comes in the way both Matt and the people who love him deal with the events. Most of the people in Matt’s life seem to know exactly what he doesn’t need but no one knows that he does need. And that is so true of death in real life. We know what platitudes won’t work, what gestures, however well-meaning, will be met with disdain. But sometimes it is impossible to explain what will help because we don’t know ourselves. And this episode showed that brilliantly. (I tried to find a clip but couldn’t).

Second would be the episode where Mr Hooper dies on Sesame Street. The episode first aired in 1983, before I was born, but I remember seeing a rerun when i was little and being very upset. As I’ve grown older, I’ve returned to the transcript of this scene over and over again. The sheer simplicity coupled with the fact that Sesame Street was essentially trying to tackle the concept of explaining death to children came across beautifully. I could try to explain but I think the dialogue does it much better.

[Big Bird gives pictures that he drew of everyone.]

Big Bird: And last but not least, ta-da!

[Shows picture of Mr. Hooper.]

Big Bird: Well, I can’t wait till he sees it!


Big Bird: Say, where is he? I wanna give it to him. I know! He’s in the store.
Bob: Uh, Big Bird. He’s … he’s not in there.
Big Bird: Oh. Then where is he?
Maria: Big Bird, uh, don’t you remember we told you? Mr. Hooper died. He … he’s dead.
Big Bird: Oh yeah. I remember. Well, I’ll give it to him when he comes back.
Susan: Big Bird, Mr Hooper’s not coming back.
Big Bird: Why not?
Susan: Big Bird, when … when people die, they don’t *come* back.
Big Bird: Ever?
Susan: No, never.
Big Bird: Well, why not?
Luis: Well, Bird Bird, they’re dead. They … they can’t come back.
Big Bird: Well, he’s *gonna* come back. Why, who’s gonna take care of the store? And who’s gonna make my birdseed milkshakes and … and tell me stories?
David: Big Bird, I’m gonna take care of the store. Mr. Hooper, he left it to me. And I’ll make you your milkshakes and … and we’ll all tell you stories, and we’ll make sure you’re okay.
Susan: We’ll look after you.
Big Bird: Hmmm.

[Another awkward moment of silence.]

Big Bird: Well, it won’t be the same.
Bob: You’re right, Bird Bird. It’s … it’s … it’ll never be the same without him.
Big Bird:  Mmm.
Bob: [crying] But you know something? We can all be very happy that we had a chance to be with him and … and to know him. And to love him a lot when he was here.
Big Bird: Yeah.
Olivia: And Bird Bird, we’ll still have our *memories* of him.
Big Bird: Well, yeah … yeah … our memories. Right. Why, memories, that’s how I drew this picture. From memory. And we can remember him and remember him and remember him, as much as we want to! But I don’t like it. It makes me sad.
David: We all feel sad, Big Bird.
Big Bird: He’s *never* coming back?
David: Never.
Olivia: No.
Big Bird: Well, I don’t understand! You know, everything was just fine! I mean, why does it have to be this way? Give me one good reason!
Gordon: Big Bird, it has to be this way … *because*.
Big Bird: Just because?
Gordon: Just because.
Big Bird: Oh.

Finally, we reach my last moment, which is Anya’s speech from The Body. Technically, I cry during the entire episode but I have noticed a system. I start with quiet tears, the kind that can be dabbed away with a couple tissues. Then Emma Caulfield delivers Anya’s speech and I find myself crying so hard that I can’t see two inches in front of me. Anyone who watches a Joss Whedon show knows that he is the king of making people cry and this episode is no exception. People much more talented than me have gone into detail about the brilliance and realism of this episode. But for me, Anya’s speech is the most important moment. There’s an ability as a child to accept the “just because” answer of Sesame Street. I think as a child, we often find it easier to grasp that not everything in life has a good explanation. Anya shows the other side of that. The side of the adult who is screaming that “just because” isn’t good enough.

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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Let's Talk TV


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