Monday, March 10, 2014


It's everywhere. Advertising for a new TV show called Resurrection.

I like to watch TV. The commercials for Resurrection are on high rotation. I see bus advertising and posters for it too. But it's the television commercials that pull me in.

There's carefully orchestrated music, an evocative logo and tasteful production. But I'll cut to the chase: An older couple is reunited with their son Jacob, who died 32 years ago. Our son died 15 years ago. His name is Jacob too.

There's been a bit of discussion with other parents whose kids died. A Facebook friend started it. I think the idea for the show is mean. I say that I wish a nice man could bring back my Jacob. I tell all the other bereaved parents that I won't be watching the show. It wouldn't be the first time I've staged a one-person boycott.

Then a few days before the show's premiere, I changed my mind.

The closest thing to an explanation is this. The show seems manipulative, but it’s not every day that a deceased child makes his way to prime time. The idea proves irresistible.

There was a bit of what I'd describe as internal fanfare as I gather my favorite TV night accompaniments. A nice glass of wine, some freshly baked cookies.

I had two different predictions for Resurrection. Most likely it would be so badly done, so hideously insensitive, so insultingly off base, that I would be seething after watching and then I'd need a corrective experience. In case this happened, I told Jeremy I wanted to watch Girls right after Resurrection.

I considered another possibility. In spite of the build up, I'd end up adoring the show, falling in love with the dead boy Jacob and Sunday night at 9:00 becomes Me Time.

Neither one of these things happen.

What happens is that I watch in awe of Frances Fisher and Kurtwood Smith, the actors who play Jacob's parents. Their acting is superb. The complicated string of emotions they are able to convey feels spot on. I wasn't expecting the subtlety.

I identified with the mom. While everyone else is concerned with the details and struggling with the impossible, the mom moves immediately into nurturing the boy. She's a mother, not a detective. This is the bright spot for me.

The really surprising thing was how otherwise flat the show feels. There's something dull and monochromatic, in spite of the obvious suspense. My mind wandered to other things while watching.

I compared the TV Jacob with my Jacob. The obvious difference was that the TV Jacob was eight when he died and mine was two and a half. TV Jacob seems almost exotic in a way that is probably particular only to me. Except for the fact that he is dead, TV Jacob is classic and all American in ways that do not resemble any of my children.

Soon after my Jacob was born, I brought him with me to see Dr. Panter, my OB/GYN.
That's a very pretty baby, he said, but he's got just enough character to make him interesting. The show stirs up this nice memory. My children and I are an excellent match. They all have character.

It was impossible not to imagine what would happen if Omar Epps showed up at our door with our Jacob. It's heartbreaking to contemplate. For the most part my mind would go there for a moment, but not stay.

An odd thought popped into my head. I imagined calling our medical team soon after Jacob's return. The chemotherapy might have worked after all, I imagine saying.

Resurrection is utterly humorless.

Continuing to imagine Jacob returning would seem like waiting for unicorns or something supernatural. I've become accustomed to what is second best, keeping him with me through my memory and in my heart. In that way, it doesn't require a resurrection. It's not ideal, but it's what I am used to.

In the end, our particular story with my Jacob is so specific, so full of detail, so much more alive, that I found little to identify with in Resurrection. The show isn't great but it isn't terrible either. But seeing as though Sunday is already a big TV night for our family, we probably won't be viewing it again. Mad Men is coming and we'd rather watch that.

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