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Sonn: The Ferris Bueller fallacy

BY BARRETT SONN | APRIL 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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I recently finished the first five seasons of “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix and was left with a profound sense of ecstasy — and sadness. The fictional town of Pawnee, Ind., is just so amazing and difficult to leave that I wish I lived there. This is a pretty common side effect of Netflix bingeing, of course: the desire to leave your mundane, TV-filled existence for the more hospitable climes of fiction.

Naturally, this all led me down a rabbit hole: I started to think about other fictional settings that would be fun to live in and which ones would be horrible.

Before going further, I have to unveil yet another amazing idea that I have coined the “Ferris Bueller Fallacy.” So often when people think of fun fictional places to live in, they invariably drop titles such as The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones without thinking about the horrific potential consequences.

The fallacy takes its name from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, another popular choice for seekers of a fictional refuge. In this case, people have the erroneous and misplaced belief that their mere introduction into that fictional universe would immediately turn them into Ferris Bueller himself.

In reality, you wouldn’t actually become Ferris Bueller, you’d simply be stuck in high school with the incompetent principal, sassy secretary, and Ben Stein’s numbing character. Hardly a fun way to exist.

Many people are victims of the Ferris Bueller Fallacy. The truth is that you are not held back only by the reality you find yourself in but by your own limitations as a boring real-world person. You have to keep that in mind when choosing a fictional world to occupy — you aren’t special or invincible.

That rules out almost all postapocalyptic settings. Sorry, zombie aficionados. Places with a heavy fantasy and/or science-fiction angle would also be ruled out, like Hogwarts (you’re a muggle) and the Star Wars universe (you’re not a Jedi). Sorry, nerds.

Fortunately, while the limitations of your fleshy human bodies rule out the most exciting (and most dangerous, incidentally) places, there are still many great fake universes to choose from.

The aforementioned Pawnee, Ind., of “Parks and Recreation” is a solid favorite. Aside from its unhealthy citizens and adorably quirky antics that are amusing (and often disconcerting), it’s a winning situation for all involved. The worst thing that could happen is if you were hired into the department, only to turn into the new Jerry Gergich.

“The Office” is another viable option, though Scranton is no contest versus Pawnee. The vast majority of “The Office” takes place inside a stuffy office, whereas “Parks and Recreation” is a sprawling show that chooses a plethora of settings naturally in the premise of the show. Each has a loveable cast of new fake friends waiting for you, though.

“Scrubs” is an interesting option if one is willing to visit Sacred Hearts Hospital a suspicious number of times just to interact with JD, Turk, and the rest of the cast/staff.

There’s a trend here, which is that comedies are generally the best places to hypothetically live in. They tend to be the most fun while also being the safest. Or the danger is relatively harmless, compared to getting bitten by anything, getting shot, or just straight-up dying.

Beware, however, of comedies with annoying characters or an undue number of befuddling, dangerous situations. That includes the worlds of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Those shows are fun to watch, but you’re delusional if your idea of fun involves the Gang or watching Larry David get into arguments every three minutes.

This is all subjective, obviously — you have the right to ignore me at your own risk — but if you’re looking to escape into a world of fiction, be wary of the Ferris Bueller Fallacy.


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