Ok, let’s face it: there are some pretty shitty track and field events. Likewise, there are some equally disappointing TV shows. For what it’s worth, I also think there are objectively good track and field events, as well as their accompanying TV show counterparts.
I started off the piece with the phrase “pretty shitty track and field events” because that will automatically malign me with a significant amount of readers, and I read recently stirring up controversy is the surest way to pageviews. So, here we are. Me, fishing for page views. You, falling into my trap.
The 200-meter is Ozarks.
I’m taking this thing out hot, and I’m about to offend a lot of people and that’s fine, but I think my least favorite track and field event is the 200-meter. It’s a bastardization of the 100-meter (good event) and the 400-meter (good event). Not quite long enough to really see some pain face, but not short enough to perhaps mistime a sneeze and miss the event. You *need* that possibility. It’s so important.
An equally bad TV show? Ozarks on Netflix. You probably didn’t watch it, and that’s good. Chalk it up as a win. It’s Breaking Bad but set in Missouri. Like the 200-meter, it’s a bastardization. It takes two good things (Breaking Bad and Missouri) and tries to Victor Frankenstein them to an Emmy or two. Well, head back to Ingolstadt because it didn’t work. Also, I don’t know if Missouri is a good thing or a bad thing.
The 5000-meter is Game of Thrones.
The 5,000-meter is a painful race. Bob Kennedy one time said something along the lines of “if you ain’t hurtin’, you ain’t workin’.” Which basically implies the entire race should hurt. From start to finish, you’re going to be uncomfortable. You know what show makes me uncomfortable from start to finish? GAME OF THRONES.
Oy vey. You can’t settle in during an episode because you’re literal moments away from a) someone having sex with their brother or b) eyes being made into little cherry pies and c) genital mutilation.
The Red Wedding felt like a legitimate reprieve because everyone died so you didn’t have to anxiously wade through an episode waiting for the Stark’s to be slowly picked off one by one. This could be the one time in history we can sit back and appreciate a mass murder.
The 10,000-meter is The Wire.
As a white millennial, what I’m about to say will neither surprise nor impress, but I’ll say it anyway: I love The Wire. It’s commentary on race, politics, drug trade, and the socio-economic climate of late 90s Baltimore is something I can never fully understand, but I do understand my appreciation for the detailed storytelling and the show’s ability to draw out some critical thought.
I’ve had some friends tell me they can’t get “in” to the show. These are people that seek instant gratification. These are people that have no appreciation for the setup of a plot. These are people who are no longer my friends. The Wire requires the viewer to pay attention. It’s crazy. The punchlines are subtle and the laugh track is nonexistent. I don’t think a show like that could survive today. Mostly because if we are all checking our goddamn devices every five minutes, we are missing critical Bunk and McNulty dialogue.
That felt like a rant.
Naturally, the 10,000-meter best represents The Wire on the ol’ the tartan oval. At first, it may be hard to see the fantastic nature of the event. The buildup, the anxiety, the dagger. These all will pass over the person who is just bummed they have to watch people run in circles for 25 laps and not at all focused on the nuances of the race. The experienced fan, though, can discern the subtleties and appreciate all the little moves that go into the final move with 400-meters to go. It’s a pretentious event. Almost as pretentious as explaining to your book club how The Wire is your favorite TV show because of the nuanced characters and complex storylines.
The 400-meter hurdles is Arrested Development
Jumping is impressive. This is coming from someone who cannot jump very well, so I tend to appreciate anyone who can do it even slightly better than me. Running fast is also impressive. The fast I’m referencing in this situation is the generally-accepted version of fast. Not how a distance runner is “fast.” I mean like the 45-second 400-meter fast. That’s sexy as hell.
So, when those two things are combined, you get the 400-meter hurdles which is an incredibly underrated event. They are running and jumping and being so strong and, at least to me, this event slips a bit too far under the radar. They are athletes in every sense of the word, and it’s beautiful.
Arrested Development is not an athlete. But it is an underrated TV show. I’m sure it can seem like utter nonsense if you were to just happen upon the show. There are recurring jokes and characters that may only hold their worth if you have any idea from whence they came, but imagine if you just SHOWED up to a 400-meter hurdle race. You’d be confused. You’d be lost. You’d want out. You’d say “why are they jumping, they should jump over there” as you point to the long jump pit. You’d be wrong, though. Because they can do as they damn well please. But, it may cause you to not like the event as much (because it is kind of odd) and so you may underestimate the worth of the 400-meter hurdles. Jokes on you, dog. The 400-meter is dope. Don’t be ignorant.
Ok, those are pretty much the only TV shows I’ve ever watched, so the list ends here. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter (@stephenkersh) to share your opinions about other events and their television counterparts.