Thinking Inside the Box

The ending of a long-running television programme like Desperate Housewives usually leaves me in a brief panic about how I will next fill my time. A twenty minute void is manageable: painting my nails or going to Morrisons for a one pound apple strudel easily plugs that time frame. But a full hour gaping hole in my week? That’s televisually severe. It follows that the end of three years at university should be leaving me with nothing short of terror. Yet I have certifiably discovered the ultimate way to deal with graduation: treat it as the ending of a beloved TV show.

I jumped on the Desperate Housewives bandwagon back in its raunchier heyday. Death was a seasonal occurrence, but the fact that the Housewives’ melodramatic lives were shinier than a sequined pair of patent leather shoes transformed bereavement into an equally glossy affair. Back in the real world, I recently embarked on a four hour coach ride to York for a 48 hour stopover and some third-year style partying. After an hour, the nonstop motorway service pulled into a residential road.

As the driver bellowed “it’s not working!”, the glittering prospect of a sentimental trip to the Minster looked grim. “You do NOT do that on our buses! If you need a Number Two, we will pull over to the side of the road… that kind of smell will LINGER now!” If Bree had been there, she would’ve applauded the driver’s chiding. The fortunate decision to take an upstairs seat paid off until the air conditioning broke down another hour later and the bus became a travelling sauna. Unlike TV, life is usually not at all glossy, yet sometimes the worst ‘episodes’ deserve remembering.

The particular similarities of the Desperate Housewives finale to the whole graduation process are nothing short of compelling. Flashbacks through previous series’ (using Facebook photos as an effective way to reminisce), tying up loose plotlines (meeting up with the people you care enough about to establish that they’ve made some form of impact on your three year stint) and doing a ghostly driveby (giving up any ridiculous grudges you held and pretending like you’ve ‘grown as a person’ over three years of ‘academia’).

The collective hours I’ve spent watching and – in my case, far worse – talking about any given show always crosses my mind during its final episode. But what does it matter if you watch trailer trash, as long as you enjoy it? University is the same, and on the final drive home I intend to have no shame. A morning with two like-minded coursemates having a Mature Ladies of Pop seminar in memoriam to Aretha Franklin, ended by a quiz including a music round is how I chose to spend my time, and I’m proud of it because it was fun. End of.

In first year I was told that campus has a three year memory. It might be true, but I resent it, because the memories that matter are the ones you choose to hold on to.

It’s true: the plus side to any programme ending is the re-runs, and the best memories aren’t the short-lived ones that make it to Facebook. It might be the ‘end of an era’, but forget trying to think of profoundly nostalgic titles for your final term album. Your best memories will make you grin like a maniac under any circumstance, the real value of which can’t be uploaded to the internet.

The one thing that the Housewives got, that no graduand ever will, was a flashforward. And it’s a good thing that the future isn’t sealed by a triple coat of L’Oréal Elnett. It will always be those memories, reeled off without hesitation like one-liners from your favourite bygone television programme, that really count – regardless of what the future may hold.

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