I posted on Facebook asking for examples of TV shows or movies where characters fell in love because they loved the same TV shows or movies.
Darren Levitz answered that in When Harry Met Sally, the main characters connect over Casablanca and that the main character from How I Met Your Mother debated breaking up with various girl friends because they didn’t like Field of Dreams and had never seen Star Wars.
Although they never shared a favorite TV show or movie, Jacob’s love for his son Joseph was, in some ways, just as superficial as two people having an affinity for Modern Family.
After favoring him and hearing the dream in which Joseph imagines himself in the midst of 11 stars, the sun and moon bowing before him, Jacob might have realized that his other sons were not enamored of their brother. Had there been a TV in the house, little Joseph would have probably had permanent dibs on the remote.
And yet despite having a good deal of evidence that Joseph’s brothers wished him no good, Jacob somehow thought it might be safe for his favorite son to go in search of said brothers, shepherding in places unknown. Inattention Blindness at its worst.
When we look in the Torah for why Joseph is so beloved, we get scant information. We’re told that Joseph is the child of Jacob’s old age. Presumably once a father has had the experience of raising other kids he mellows and can enjoy his youngest without all the baggage. This distinction didn’t fall on Benjamin right away because it must have been hard to disassociate the death of Jacob’s beloved Rachel during his birth.
But it doesn’t take a great deal of inference to note that Joseph was the first child of Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel and is similarly described later, in Egypt, as attractive, good looking. This is as compelling and superficial a basis for love as that displayed by those who still won’t tell their friends how Breaking Bad ends.
Don’t get me wrong, I love having conversations with friends and family about moves and shows that we mutually enjoy. Further, no matter what anyone says, it’s hard not to take it personally when someone disses a program you adore. However, as the basis for a relationship and deep shared experience, it’s only one small however entertaining component.
The comments on Facebook that drove this home to me included the one from my brother in law, Grant, who referred to the movie High Fidelity in which the main characters bonded over music but then broke up before the movie even started. And Darren also mentioned a song, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Deep Blue Something’s biggest hit, in which the only thing the characters had in common was the film:
And I said what about Breakfast at Tiffany's?
She said I think I remember the film
And as I recall I think, we both kind o' liked it
And I said well that's the one thing we've got
He repeats this line many times in the course of the song. Not the best song ever written, but it engages a truth.
Being the son of his old age and the best living recollection of his beloved wife Rachel, was not enough for Jacob to realize what he had done to his family.
May we forgive ourselves for our own unintentional inattention blindnesses that affect our own family relationships. For those of you who allow for at least one night a week to have a real dinner together, shabbat especially, you have plenty of opportunities for true communication and deep understanding and hopefully some laughs. And they shouldn’t be entirely dependent on the latest installment of Brooklyn 99.