Widower Wednesday: Why You Should Watch Go On

I promised myself I wasn't going to write anything else about Go On until the season was over. But after watching two recent episodes I feel compelled to recommend this show again to widowers and those who are in relationship with them.

The show is billed as a comedy and, yes, it has some very funny moments. But it also treats the issues of losing a spouse and starting a new life very seriously.  In fact Go On does a better job of addressing the issues of loss and rebuilding a life better than any other TV show I’ve seen. Some of the scenes hit so close to home and echo the feelings of countless emails I’ve received over the years that I swear one of the writers or producers of the show has to be a widower or good friends with one because they nail the issues and feelings that the widower experience perfectly.

(Warning: Spoilers follow.)

For example, in one recent episode, a female college friend of Ryan (Matthew Perry) comes to town for a visit. Ryan finds that romantic feelings for his friend are rekindled once they spend some time together. (How many widowers have experienced something similar?) His friend finds that she has feelings for him too but at the end of the episode tells him it’s too soon for them to get together because she doesn’t want to be the rebound relationship—the first one who has to follow in the steps of Ryan’s late wife. She leaves the possibly of something happening in the future but says that Ryan needs some time and to date around a bit before they give it a shot.

It would have been really easy for the writers to put widower Ryan in a relationship with his old college flame and have him screw it up. In some ways, watching him bumble up a date with would have made for some funny scenes. But the writers aren’t going for cheap humor. They’re building a believable character with real feelings who’s surrounded by people who care for him and are trying to help him move on. That, my friends, takes real talent.

In the following episode, Ryan decides he’s finally ready to start dating again. The show starts with him watching an attractive woman jog by his house day after day. He realizes his feelings of wanting to date again and we’re given the following scene at his office the next day.

Ryan: Carrie, I’m ready to put myself back on the market. I’m down to my sexiest weight, my tan is strong, and my gift for saucy banter has come back.

Carrie (Ryan’s assistant): I've never seen you single before.

R: Yeah, it’s going to be bad. I’m bad at it. Look, I don’t know if I’m ready but I’m definitely lonely so I’m going to take some shots even if I make some terrible mistakes. (Pauses and looks at Carrie.) What about you? Should we hook up?

C: I don’t really feel like being a terrible mistake.

R: Yeah, I read you. Got to get the word out though. Let’s update my Facebook page!

Between that witty dialogue is a deep admission of how most widowers feel when they enter the dating game again: they’re lonely and willing to take a chance, even if they screw up big time.

Later in the episode Ryan gets invited to a beach volleyball game with several tall, beautiful, and athletic women. He clumsily tries to hit on them and fails miserably each time. At the end of the scene Ryan confesses to Carrie that he “doesn’t want to be doing this. I want to be married.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I’m not going to tell you how the episode ends other than to say it has a very good and very realistic message for widowers and those who are dating them.

If you want an episode that does a good job of showing what goes through a widower’s mind when they’re first dating and how easy it is for them to get attached to someone, this show does an excellent job.

You can watch the episode where Ryan starts dating below. Miss it at your own widower-relationship peril.