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Vienna, a critique

| Wednesday, November 15, 2023

“Vienna” by Billy Joel is an enduring masterpiece, resonating across generations with its celebration of slowing down and relishing life, intertwined with an appreciation for the richness of aging. Having withstood the test of time for 46 years, this classic draws inspiration from its title — Vienna — a city that has historically served as a cultural crossroads.

Much like the song, below is a list of five TV scenes that are poignant reflections of life for me, capturing intricate connections within society and emphasizing the paramount importance of living life to the fullest. Personally, as I immerse myself in a blend of music and TV scenes, I find echoes of Vienna, each narrative encapsulating the essence of life itself.

Side note: there are spoilers if you haven’t seen these shows (many of which I recommend)!

1. “Fleabag” Season 2, Episode 6

If you’ve seen this show, you know exactly what scene I’m referring to: the ending scene at the bus stop where Fleabag confesses her love, followed by “It’ll pass” and then she’s left alone. As she walks away from the audience, the song “This Feeling” by Alabama Shakes plays, highlighting her leaving behind an inner judgmental mindset and embracing an authentic life knowing that she can be loved. It’s a perfect example of finding love within yourself and finding your own fulfillment in that fact. 

2. “Normal People” Season 1, Episode 10

While this show is emotionally powerful, the funeral scene between Connell and Marianne illuminates the intricacies of their relationship. Stephen Rennicks’ score enhances the scene, revealing the beauty of their reunion at the funeral of Connell’s best friend after an extended period of separation. In this singular moment, Connell discovers a profound sense of stability, pure love and comfort within Marianne, especially during his lowest moments. Their hug lasts 30 seconds, serving as a moving symbol of two halves coming together once more. It encapsulates the essence of life — the discovery of someone who offers stability and comfort during your darkest moments, fostering a deep sense of fulfillment within each other.

3. “Parks and Recreation” Season 7, Episode 4

As a more light-hearted pick, this show has its share of emotional moments, particularly in its final season. Leslie and Ron, two characters with opposite personalities who have been friends throughout the entire series, find themselves at odds in the initial episodes of the season. Their friendship takes an unexpected turn, leading to mutual dislike. It’s only when they are locked in the office and compelled to open up that they can rekindle their bond, accompanied notably by the song ”Buddy” by Willie Nelson. Despite their initial resentment rooted in a small incident — Ron’s disappointment when Leslie stood him up while he grappled with the loneliness of being the only one left in the office — Leslie proves willing to forgive, adding depth to their relationship. It’s another instance of wholehearted love, bringing its unique sense of fulfillment and joy to life.

4. “New Girl” Season 5, Episode 22

In another television sitcom focusing on love, this episode centers around Cece and Schmidt’s wedding. During the celebration, Nick and Jess find themselves in a separate room discussing Nick’s decision to make his relationship with Reagan official. Against the backdrop of Seinabo Sey’s “Still,” Jess reassures Nick of his worth, considering their relationship a miraculous testament to his value despite his low self-confidence. Jess plays a pivotal role in shifting Nick’s negative mindset, emphasizing his incredible qualities and affirming his worthiness. In this moment, she helps him recognize the importance of self-love, underlining the impressing of embracing oneself to fully enjoy life. 

5. ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Season 13, Episode 10

In what is usually a satirical sitcom, this particular episode stands out as a singular and emotionally resonant moment in television. Despite Mac’s father walking away, a symbolic act representing his lack of support for his son’s emotional coming-out scene, Mac concludes his performance, showcasing his internal pain against the beautiful backdrop of Sigur Rós’ “Varúð.” The scene concludes with a tear-jerking shot of Mac’s friend’s father, Frank, who has evolved into a father figure for Mac over the years, visibly moved and understanding of the emotional turmoil Mac has been grappling with. It serves as yet another compelling example of self-love and the pursuit of fulfillment within oneself, underlined by the significance of surrounding oneself with individuals who genuinely appreciate one’s worth and comprehend one’s true essence.

These TV scenes mirror life’s intricate beauty, much like the rich melody of ”Vienna.” They remind us that, in the mix of music and scenes, we discover echoes of our own journeys. These shows convey the timeless message of embracing life fully, finding love within and recognizing fulfillment by understanding our own worth. Like these shows, our lives become enduring masterpieces in their own right, even in the smallest moments.

To summarize: You do you, dawg! It’s your life!

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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