I hope you enjoyed this latest AmazingFlix streaming series! And by “you” I don’t mean the voting members of the Television “Academy”, who either did not receive their screeners or simply can’t appreciate a show about Depression era Tulsa as occupied by General Francisco Franco’s Army. As for the critics, I don’t even know what algorithm means, so fuck you.
No, I am speaking to my real audience, the viewers, like the woman I met at that estate sale last week. We had a friendly tussle over a vintage clock radio. After I brought some ice for her eye, she said, “You mean they PAY you to buy things for TV shows? That must be a really fun job.” And I was like, “Right?”
In June, when the nominations were announced, my mother called to say, “So I see your friend Amy was nominated again.” To which I replied, “Mom, please. You think I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life as a set decorator just to chase a beautiful shiny gold statue? I don’t need a hood ornament to validate my career or compensate for two failed marriages and court ordered rehab. Also, WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT AMY?!”
The point is, it matters little to me whether or not you know that most of my life has been spent living out of suitcases in budget hotel chains next to a cloverleaf, vacantly staring out the window at a Waffle House or a Love’s truck stop. Always requesting a high floor and getting the fourth floor — high enough to maim but not kill. I signed up for this. It’s like the military. You take orders from creepy men, eat shitty food, and put your life on the line. Only instead of being shot at, you will most likely die being T-boned in your minivan while scarfing down a Subway sandwich and texting a photo of a wingback chair to the Director — while running a red light.
Since we’re friends now, can I ask you a favor? If you live near Echo Park, I could use some more Knob Creek. Otherwise, when you get to episode seven, where Lieutenant Calvaro Mateo de la Rosa seduces the church organist, Myrtle Tisdale? Please call the producer and tell him, “Your decorator must have shopped all over that tax-incentive shit-hole just to find the right high-thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets. Sheets that DO NOT MAKE NOISE when actors roll all over them, like those poly sheets that cost half as much but also glow under the lights because they are plastic, and that maybe since your decorator has underwear older than you she knows what the fuck she is talking about.”
While you are at it, remind him it isn’t the set decorator’s fault that she went $1,800 over budget on those sheets, buying them in ten colors, because SHE didn’t hire a legacy director brat who decides everything “on the day.” Remind him that the decorator’s buyer, Morgan, quit that day just because “someone” called her the c-word (like she hasn’t heard that before.) And that since there’s no bar at the Residence Inn, the decorator was forced to run across the interstate to Love’s for a night-cap or two, and then, maybe because she was so tired from working 23 days in a row, she can hardly be blamed for being rolled by a gang of truck stop hookers for her $5,000 petty cash float.
So why do I do it? Why dedicate my entire adult life practicing my craft in a ritualistic cycle of masochistic servitude to an industry that would eagerly replace me ten minutes after I was run over by a train?
Is my work any better or worse than those who work just as hard to decorate a show about, say, flying dragons? You may say (and please do!) that those sets are little more than a sawbuck table, a flagon of mead, a goat’s hindquarter and some beeswax dildos. And you may be right. As for me, I am much too immersed in the process to waste time being bitter. Bitter is a cup of cancer best served neat. (Or is it butter?) And what makes it an “Academy”, anyway? Like, they hand out degrees? They have professors? It’s an “Academy” like Scientology is a freakin’ church.
Why do I do it? It’s so you, The Entertainment Consumer, can flop on your Ikea sofa, jam your finger up your nose, and binge watch ten more years shaved off my life on your fucking iPhone!
Oops. Anyway, gotta run. We’re halfway through season two, and tomorrow at five I have to open this big set, where Franco and his troops storm the Oklahoma State Fair to round up all the New Dealers. The butter cow won’t be done in time, so I’m going to pitch the showrunner a cubist cow and that way Franco can have the artist executed for being a degenerate. Wish me luck!
(c) 2019 James Brunel