This past Wednesday night my family gathered together to say goodbye to our beloved friends, co-conspirators in irreverence, fellow pop culture referencers, and long-time supporters of the pineapple industry.
The menu for the wake was easy to coordinate. A simple spread, largely orange and unhealthy, high in sodium, sugar, and preservatives.
The dress was casual, because knowing our friends, they wouldn’t want us to be the stick up Principal Richard Vernon’s ass during Saturday detention.
They had given us time to process the loss, to grieve for the years we’d spent hearing it both ways while sucking it until we couldn’t any longer. It wasn’t really over, they’d claimed. Imagine them carrying on in their antics and goodwill, riding off into the sunset in the blueberry.
Only, the blueberry had died long before, her carcass split in two by that assassin that time.
We had to trust them, our friends who once serenaded us to Tears For Fears “Shout” while moonwalking, that they were leaving us with a legacy, a hope…obscure 80s references on a never-ending loop.
Eight years. Eight years ago, I was about to marry my husband. I was 21, a size zero, a girl not yet a woman, eight years ago I was young.
So were they.
My entire marriage thus far we have watched these characters, and I don’t think I’m being dramatic (psh) when I say, this loss is significant. It really is like saying goodbye to friends you learned to lean on, that you feel you’ve shared something — and no, not like I actually think they are real or we know each other or have made them my sons co-Godfather’s —so special and singular it can never be duplicated.
Over the eight seasons, Shawn and Gus have slowly shed their adolescence. Do they still eat like fourteen-year-old athletes, make juvenile jokes and alienate with obscure trivia only they understand? Yes. Thank God. There is a realness to their prolonged adolescence that speaks to my generation. Kids raising kids, or Shawn and Gus being raised by the Santa Barbara Police Department. There is an honesty to the trajectory many of us find ourselves on.
If the series finale is any indication, they aren’t just kids anymore.
And neither am I. The bittersweet sentiment of my goodbye to characters I have, myself, grown up with, is met with my own revelations. My own tentative acceptance of aging and maturity and admittance that I’m not the twenty-one-year-old I was when the show aired in one of the less awkward Pilots ever put on TV.
As Shawn said, in the final moments of the final episode, “I am done cowering from the big decisions.” That statement sums up his internal conflict, his character’s ultimate, overreaching arc. And there is nothing more satisfying for a viewer to see their hero (he’s really co-hero with Gus. Come on, son!) achieve his goal. In terms of closure, this finale delivered.
We leave these character in a good place. We leave them with a future.
So, even though we say goodbye, and we admit we sort of think you guys are being like “Topher Grace in In Good Company“, we say thank you.
Thank you for eight years of your lives.
Thank you for growing up with us.
Thank you for being our friends.
Thank you for teaching us about the 80s.
We won’t forget about you.