Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Happiness Revisited: The Mindless Pursuit of Happiness

If you think about it, it’s a bit strange that people value happiness so highly, elevating it to this almost mythical status: “The pursuit of happiness”; “I just want you to be happy;” “Do not worry Be Happy”. This is strange and paradoxically unhealthy for a variety of reasons. While words are semantically subjective, ‘happiness’ is an emotion, and emotions are essentially ephemeral. Supporting one above all others creates a life out of balance, to somewhat reference both Pixar Inside Out and the movie Koyaanisqatsi.

First episode date: 18 May 2023 (USA)
Cast: Rainn Wilson

Happiness goes against contemporary society and existence as a whole in this autophagous world. We have hedonic adaptation, which means we get used to the good things but not the bad, which is depressingly depressing when you really think about it. Modern culture has also made us insensitive to most of the things that have historically brought happiness and meaning to people (art, faith, community, extended family, working the land). The fact of postmodernism’s relationship to happiness is simple these days: never before have we longed for something more impossible to acquire.


So it’s either hackneyed and narcissistic or profound and universal to focus a mainstream series on one person’s exploration of the idea of ​​happiness and its subjective cultural and historical meanings. Rainn Wilson and the geography of bliss It’s a bit of all these things. A visually luxurious, slightly funny, and quirky new series about Peacock, The geography of Bliss fight the losing battle of trying to pin down happiness and fighting to get some meaning out of it. The result is very nice, but not enlightening enough to be anything more than a charming summer travel show. But, like life itself, perhaps we shouldn’t ask for anything more than that.

Rainn Wilson’s Dream Project

Most people recognize Rainn Wilson as the eccentric Dwight Schrute from The Office, who was obviously an iconic TV character, but there’s a lot more depth to Wilson than a lot of people realize. His hilarious but heartbreaking performance in James Gunn’s nasty little classic, Superfor example, it’s revealing, and it stole almost every scene from the doomed HBO series. Utopia Redo. He was phenomenal in the underrated movie. The boy manages to be memorable in small humorous parts in movies like Megalodon, Juno, and Curse! Unfortunately, he’s never really landed a successful project that puts him front and center, and the two big ones he tried (the rocker and back) got it wrong and were quickly forgotten.

Rainn Wilson and the geography of Bliss However, it could be the perfect project for him. It cuts back on his exaggerated, comically confident persona and allows Wilson to be himself (charismatic, relatable in his anxiety, kind, warmly funny, admittedly awkward). It also doesn’t focus entirely on him, allowing him to shine peripherally as he travels the world interviewing people about their lives, what makes them happy (and what doesn’t), and how his specific culture and history play a role in their joy.

Wilson wants to be a deep thinker, and maybe he is (although this series doesn’t go much deeper than a standard self-help book). his books, The King of the Bassoon: Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Hall, and the very recent Soul Boom: why we need a spiritual revolution indicate a very thoughtful and thoughtful person. The geography of bliss allows you to tap into that part of yourself and is very authentic as a result.

Related: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Review: An excellent send-off for an Icon

Yet it is another book that the Peacock series is based on: Eric Weiner’s New York Times bestseller. The Geography of Happiness: A Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places on Earth, which must have interested Wilson enough to follow Weiner’s footsteps around the world and participate here. The actor has been candid about his childhood trauma, anxieties, and depression, which makes his search for happiness all the more understandable, realistic, and sad. He doesn’t seem to be faking it at all here, unlike many travel shows and reality TV hosts; he really seems interested in the people he talks to, the places he visits, and the ideas he explores. He is a charismatic tour guide and takes viewers to some interesting places.

happiness around the world

Rainn Wilson in Geography of Bliss

The geography of bliss It starts in Iceland, a fitting stop considering it’s frequently among the so-called “happiest countries in the world,” though why Finland wasn’t visited is a mystery, as it has topped the happiest countries list. for six years in a row by a pretty wide margin. This list is an interesting complement to the Peacock series, as it is equally subjective and attempts to define happiness both literally and statistically (“healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, low corruption, generosity in a community where people care for each other and freedom to make key life decisions,” as CNN reports).

Wilson talks to a variety of people—an American immigrant from Brooklyn, an Icelandic actor he’s worked with, comedian-turned-politician Jón Gnarr, a punk band—as he travels through the beautiful and ever-changing landscape visiting farms, hot springs, and townships. . The constant phrase he hears is “þetta reddest”, which translates to something like “Everything will work out in the end”. Viewers may think that if they were rich and could travel the world like Wilson, they might feel the same way. That’s the kind of depressing wish fulfillment He geography of bliss valid, travel the world without responsibility, visiting beautiful places. Real workers watching the series may experience vicarious delight or be a little angry that people are being paid to do this.

To his and the show’s credit, Wilson immediately follows that episode with a trip to Bulgaria, which has been described as one of the unhappiest places on earth. He meets a variety of vibrant people and explores both the countryside and the capital city, Sofia. Once again, Wilson explores the relationship of happiness with culture and history, examining the history of Bulgaria from the time it was part of the Ottoman Empire to the Soviet Union.

In a way, this episode and parts of the next two (in Ghana and Thailand, before returning to Los Angeles), work as a kind of antidote to the realization of that wish. Sure, there are still beautiful places and people in these countries, but they are not the quiet, beautiful, and friendly places in the Iceland episode. These three central episodes are more interesting from a historical and cultural point of view, and they balance the series. Sentimental bookends.

The geography of happiness is relative

Rainn Wilson's Travel Series on Peacock

Therefore, as a travel show, it is usually enjoyable and educational; it’s enjoyable enough and a visually lively five hours. Yet in a strange way, Rainn Wilson and the geography of bliss he acknowledges his own inability to be anything more or deeper than that, and seemingly admits his own worthlessness. Just three minutes into the first episode, Wilson says, “It’s been said that the pursuit of happiness is the number one source of unhappiness,” which is an honest but disturbing way to start a series that explores happiness. 25 minutes later, someone tells Wilson, “It’s very hard to be a human being. It doesn’t really matter where in the world you live. There is no formula for being happy or successful in life. If you are lucky enough to have people to around you, to help you, that is the key”. There is a great deal of truth to this simple statement, and it makes the remaining four and a half hours of the show seem pointless.

Yes, Wilson is pretty perfect for this kind of thing, and it definitely works as a travel show, but it’s surprisingly empty considering its big goal. In the second episode, Wilson asks a taxi driver in English, “So, are you happy?” The driver replies in Bulgarian: “Happy is a relative term.” Wilson nods, but probably didn’t understand.

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