Journal of Writing & Environment

Web Rove: For the Love of Television: When Fiction reflects Reality

by Erin Schmiel

I love television for both the long story and loyalty to the characters. Television is also able to help us discover something new about our lives and the state of our culture, from the Japanese nuclear disaster at Fukushima to the aftermath of September 11. In the links below, commentators discuss shows by Aaron Sorkin that blend reality and fiction in ways that are poignant, heart-breaking and beautiful. Similarly, in an interview about the new series Fresh off the Boat, Eddie Huang discusses his struggle to watch a sitcom based on his life and memoir of the same name. What happens when life and art collide?

The West Wing: Isaac and Ishmael” by Steven Heisler (AV Club)

While author Steve Heisler didn’t care so much for this episode, “Isaac and Ishmael,” it’s still important to note when it aired: “Less than a month after September 11th 2001.” According to Heisler, this special episode occurred as a type of play between the intense end of the first season and before season two began. It isn’t as well-crafted as other episodes, but it was an opportunity for television to respond to tragedy.

The Best Moments From ‘The Newsroom’ Season One” by Julian Ring (Rolling Stone)

This article is an overview of season one of News Room, giving video highlights for those unfamiliar with the show. Episode Six is the one to pay attention to: “Bullies,” where character Sloan Sabbith reports on the Japanese nuclear disaster at Fukushima. This episode dramatized the idea: What would it be like to report on a moment like this?

Invisible and Insidious”  by William T Vollman (Harper’s)

We are still living with the fallout of the Fukushima disaster, as seen in this “Letters From Japan” feature in Harper’s. The most startling image, and there are many, is of the seemingly endless pile of orange persimmons laid out along a lake; they were deemed too radioactive to eat.

ABC Tones Down Author’s ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ for Sitcom Audience” by Eric Deggans (NPR)

The new ABC sitcom, “Fresh off the Boat” is responding to real events in a different way. Eddie Huang’s memoir Fresh off the Boat was adapted for ABC and as this NPR interview shows, he struggles with this adaptation.