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M*A*S*Hing it up with friends

M*A*S*H cast season 2

M*A*S*H cast season 2

M*A*S*H cast seasons 8 - 11

M*A*S*H cast seasons 8 – 11

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends lately, how much I love and cherish the people in my life who drive me crazy and keep me sane.

Thinking back about friends who have come and gone, and those who have been consistent, I realized that a circle of friends is like the cast of a long running TV show.  There are a core of regulars, cast members who are in every episode; we can count on them being in every episode, if one of them is missing you know there’s a reason why.  Then there are semi-regulars, people who are part of the character’s world but don’t show up every time we tune in, then there are characters (sometimes great characters) who show up for an episode and then disappear.  Sometimes these one shot character makes such an impression that they keep coming back, and sometimes a semi-regular becomes a main character.  I think the lesson here is pretty obvious; we have people who are permanent fixtures in our lives and people who come and go, and people who show up for a short time and then disappear.

When I was in High School one of my favorite Television shows was M*A*S*H.  It mixed comedy and drama seamlessly, the acting was brilliant and the writing was some of the best in the history of Television.  The show handled the replacement of lead characters better than most, M*A*S*H took place in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War.  The show ran 11 years (8 years longer than the Korean War) and had some major cast changes.

Here’s what M*A*S*H did right when someone left the show; they replace them with a totally new character (who filled the same basic role).  As an example: for the first five years of the show the main antagonist was Frank Burns (Larry Linville), an irritating, whining wimp who kissed ass, slavishly followed rules (except the one about cheating on his wife) and irritated everyone around him.  When he left the series, he was replaced by Charles Emerson Winchester the Third (David Ogden Stiers), a pompous, rich snob who looked down his regal nose at everyone around him…he still irritated the hell out of everyone, but he was anything but an ass kissing wimp.  We missed Frank, but Winchester was a great character and the show took on some super new directions with him on board.

Here’s the sucky truth: our circle of friends is going to change, especially during times when our whole lives are changing (finishing schools, new jobs, moving, marriage, kids).  Strangers become acquaintances, acquaintances become close friends and sometimes close friends move out of our lives.  The secret to surviving it all is to M*A*S*H it up.  Let new people in.  They can’t replace the friends we’ve lost, but they can keep us laughing and touch our hearts, if we let them be who they are and not who we think we need them to be.

Aside

Accepting My Inner Ogre – ridding the world of Ographobia

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Shrek?  Why yes, yes I did. – Check out my other posts on Shrek.

Making it Real with Shrek

Breakin’ Out With My Favourite Ogre

This morning I was talking to a student about Fiona and how she changes…her arc.

Here’s a princess with a VERY dark secret…SPOILER ALERT…SPOILER ALERT She’s an ogre by night – only true love’s first kiss can break the spell.  Her’s a princess with some serious shame – she hates something she is – something she has no control over.  She’s got some serious Ographobia going on…that’s a nasty thing when you are an Ogre.

Her arc – from shame to acceptance and on to celebration.  Go Fiona!  Pretty awesome stuff here – how does it happen?  I’m sooo glad you asked.  I’m going to tell you how she starts…

She MEETS AN OGRE.  She comes face to face with her biggest fear and she finds out – – – wait for it – – – he’s not the baby eating, virgin violating monster she’s been led to believe.  He’s a grumpy, curmudgeon, but he’s not a monster.  It takes a while, (about half the movie) to fully accept it, but being an Ogre just isn’t so bad…it can be kind of fun actually.

One of the best way to combat prejudice is to actually meet the people we judge – the people we make assumptions about.  When we do, we’re going to find out that some of them will TOTALLY confirm our preconceived ideas, but most of them will not.  Any group regardless of how we try to pigeon hole them – race, sex, sexuality, language, culture, hair colour, financial status, clothing, ogreness – will have its share of good and evil, caring and selfish, givers and takers.  It is always the same.  Fiona learns to accept herself by meeting an Ogre – the very thing she hates and fears the most – when she does, she finds that he’s not that horrible – – – and neither is she.

Something else occurred to me this morning.  Fiona’s arc isn’t just about shame, it’s also about arrogance and pretention.  She thinks (and acts) like she’s just a wee bit better than the rest of us…OK maybe a LOT better than the rest of us.  Over the course of the film she realizes that those two extremes are both false, she is neither more monstrous, nor superior to anyone else.  She’s just a woman/ogre…when she discovers and accepts this she is finally happy, loved and content.

The times in my life when I was most pretentious and most arrogant (I know, I know you can’t imagine me being arrogant of pretentious, but yes my friends, I’ve been there, done that and picked up a T-Shirt that was WAY better than yours) have all coinsided with my most insecure, and shameful times, times when I struggled the most with self esteem and self acceptance.  What do you say we all just accept ourselves – warts, green skin and all – and at the same time accept that our strengths and our weaknesses don’t make us better or worse than anyone around us – they make us human – or Ogre as the case may be.

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