Spring Cleaning: My Precious "Northern Exposure" DVD Sets
What insignificant object do I hold on to for sentimental reasons, though it is hardly needed or rarely used? My complete collection of Northern Exposure episodes. There are layers of emotions surrounding these silver discs nestled inside cardboard shells. Tucked safely at the back of the broom closet, they are hidden treasure. Simply knowing they're there gives me some comfort when real life gets hectic.
To begin with, I love the show. Appearing on CBS in 1990, the series followed the humble inhabitants of make-believe Cicely, Alaska. The characters are quirky, irreverant, and decidedly non-glamorous. Filming took place in Washington State, my neck of the woods, making each scene homey and familiar to me. Northern Exposure enjoyed less than five seasons before it was canceled. It was a brief spark in the endless gray landscape of dull television.
I was in high school when it first appeared. Fitting in effortlessly with my growing creativity, curiosity, and engagement in the outside world, the show seemed almost made for me. I recall my good friend Brent taped an episode (the one about how Cicely was founded by a lesbian couple) and he brought it to school. Using one of the English rooms during lunch break, we sat and watched it with several other curious students. How improbable a television show would explore gay relationships, philosophy, literature, and frontier history in the same episode! It was entertainment nirvana for a group of nerdy seventeen years olds.
Years later, when I married, my husband Matt recalled how much I loved the series in high school. He also caught me watching reruns of it on A&E when he came home from work. So when the series finally came out on DVD, he began purchasing them, season by season, for me. When all the seasons were purchased, I was sad because it was the end of the honeymoon. Our first effort towards intimacy through gifting was complete.
Rarely do I watch the show now. Sometimes, I take out the discs and study the cover art on the box. Simply looking at the characters of Joel, Maggie, Shelley, Marilyn, Chris, Ed, Ruth Ann, Holling, Bernard, and Maurice calms me. Sometimes, if I'm having a rough day, I'll cue up a disc and watch one scene I enjoy. Like picking my favorite song off an album, a clip of the show is often enough to cheer me. It's a mixed up thing, to love a television show like Northern Exposure. I should be writing about a novel I can't let go of, but I'm not. Television was my first love, and my favorite show is the object I'll always keep.