I watch a lot of television. I mean, A LOT. The Wayans Brothers, Bob’s Burgers, Succession, Insecure, Atlanta, Moon Knight—I can keep going…
I suppose it makes sense. As someone who lives with a chronic illness, my day is what I have energy for. Some days, that’s basically from bed, to couch, to bed.
The Office, Bel-Air, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Euphoria…
TV is my escape. It is a story that takes it away—if even for just a moment, I am not a diagnosis.
Lovecraft Country was another world I journeyed to. It colored reality with the true monsters of injustice. It gave us horror we can relate to and magic we could realize.
One episode I often find myself drawn to is “I AM.” It follows a Black woman who appears on a distant planet/alternate universe. Throughout the season we find that this Black woman, Hippolyta Freeman, is mainly identified as mother and wife. However, on this new planet she is allowed to explore the vastness of herself. She can name herself anything and anyone she wants to be.
First, she names her wildest dream: to dance with Josephine Baker. Then, she names her fire: to fight as the leader of an all-Black-women warrior group. Then, she names her love and names herself a wife. After seeing that she could be all that and more, she finally names her highest self: Explorer.
I have watched this episode more than five times, and I cry each time.
I cry because I see myself in Hippolyta. I closely identify with being a sister and a daughter. I have been unclear about my boundaries. I have allowed my kindness to be seen as weakness. I have lived for others’ definitions of myself.
Having an autoimmune disease can feel limiting. It can minimize your time and have the world see you as more patient and less human.
But I am choosing to name myself. Like Issa in Insecure, I am learning how to be the woman in the mirror. Like Rue in Euphoria, I am holding on—I am trying. Like any queen on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, I am learning how to be less sorry and more fierce.
I get to name myself in this life. I am allowed to drink iced chai lattes and wear fuzzy socks and watch reruns of Saturday Night Live. I am allowed to meet a guy at a barcade, eat tacos, and talk until four in the morning. I am allowed to be frustrated with my body. I am allowed to crawl into a cave and hibernate when I need to. I am allowed.
I am Tonya—couch flower, writer of moods, cat momma, too-fast-fall-in-lover, day-dreamer, anti-social social loner, try-again-er.
Television has always been a friend. From watching The Office while hospitalized or The Lord of the Rings trilogy while on dialysis, I am grateful for the stories I can rest into. I am grateful for my story. I have lived many lives. I have told many tales. I have been many Tonya’s.
Today, the story goes: I am coming up for air. I am somehow still holding on. There is still music to slow dance to. There are moons to kiss someone under. There are mistakes to make. There is more life—more selves to become.
Friends, I hope you write the story of yourself. I hope you fall in love with each and every sentence.
What television shows resonate with you and why?Leave a Comment