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November 20, 2013

The Couch Potato: Make a decision to watch ‘Boardwalk Empire’

NEW CASTLE — I read something the other day that struck me as extremely poignant. The writer said that they hated when they knew there was a situation that was beyond their control. 

The feeling that the writer was trying to describe is helplessness, and I whole-heartedly agree that it is the worst, at least when it comes to feelings.

Each day we spend on this earth is filled with countless dilemmas, decisions, problems and quandaries. Most of them provide the opportunity for us to at least partly pick an outcome. The path we choose will ultimately help lead to a destination, sometimes the one we want, but sometimes not. In either case, we play some part in how things work out.

The real problem, though, is when there is no path to take. All roads are blocked and we must accept that we have reached the final destination.  There are no decisions left to be made.

I began watching HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” last week on DVD, and I believe that the show is out to explore those themes of power, control and the results from the decisions we make.

The show is set in the Prohibition 1920s and it follows the travails of the corrupt Atlantic City treasurer, Nucky Thompson, played brilliantly by renowned character actor Steve Buscemi. Much like “The Soprano’s” or “Mad Men,” this is a human drama that follows the ramifications of the choices we make.

The show includes a huge and diverse cast of characters, each falling somewhere different on the hierarchy of class and wealth. These characters all have an effect on each other in radically different ways, but the show is eloquent in its ability to show that even lowly characters can make a difference. 

And I think that is the point of the show — there is no such thing as helplessness. 

There may be times that we feel helpless or hopeless, but we always have a decision to make or an outcome to shape. Regardless of what is going on, we can always choose what happens next.

It may not work out how we want it to, but we always have a fighting chance.

 

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