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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Powers Stengel

Tellyfishing for Yourself

For a Turnt-Ass Summer of Small Screen Self-Discovery


Spoilers For: Why I'm Still Working on My Night Cheese.

Paging Dr. Tell A Vision?

Oh hi, thanks for picking up at this late hour. I’d like to re-experience the silliest goofs and the sharpest pains of my life please, and then maybe finally have a good night’s sleep. I know you've got the poison for me.

We animate, revel, and release when we watch the sacred tube.

We at Tellyfish have said it before--tv is our therapy. TV is whatever you need it to be at the minute you turn it on. Counselor. Critics' Circle. Teacher. Tryst. But let's not discount for a moment, the evolutionary MAKING power of the small screen. It doesn't just bond with you or speak to you. It makes and remakes you anew. When you watch, you usually offer up your feelings and scars to the televisual process. In so doing, you remember and reinvent yourself.

So much for the boob tube or the idiot box. We'd like to propose a new moniker for TV--imagination wingman station.

Storytelling draws out your dreams like only your best friends can.

Speaking of best friends, have I mentioned Hannah recently?

She's the co-founder of this impudent, growing blog you're on right now, and one of people I have loved the best since childhood.

She visited me this weekend and she, like a treasured show or beloved episode, she helped me reconnect with the best stories I tell myself in order to live. (Shoutout to Joan Didion.)


Hannah goofs a face at me from the yellow fish table. I crunch a million neck folds back. My favorite play pretend friend.


It’s Hannah and I and a DVD boxset of Sex and the City. We speak our dreams freely. We write worlds together.

Yes, And . . . partners for the ages.


Hannah rips me apart on her front stoop for giving up on myself.


The world is distant and dark and she’s there. My oldest friend turned writing partner. This time, we’re playing pretend for keeps. We talk about tv every day.

Growing up in Arkansas, deep fried with fifty shades of dark red politics, I built my first lasting imagination portal to The Great Anywhere with Hannah Pearson.


Our long-dormant text thread erupts with the seed of an idea, which then bloomed and took root as we sketched, spiced, comma un-spliced, chopped, and diced the worst and best of each other, together. I can hear myself. As loud as childhood. As loud as my favorite character's sickest season three monologue.

I am a writer.

I have always been a writer.

TV has made me believe in myself as a storyteller, it has fortified my dreaming maelstrom with characters who dare me to do the same.

Carrie Bradshaws and Tina Belchers and Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warrens and Rory Gilmores and Liz Lemons help search for my night cheese every day.

I know that stories are inside of me, waiting to be free.

I just have to turn on the TV inside of myself and live.

Fiction steals the singularity of your pain, leaving you to float the narrative stream of troupes, memes, and season 2 redemptions.

Thanks Hannah. For visiting this weekend, and for visiting my imagination station again and again, helping me tellyfish for the version of myself I am dying even now to become.

What TV helps you dream? Comment below!

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