Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On 'Girls' and Glass

Do you watch HBO's 'Girls'? I do. And I enjoy. Though, I"m not sure why Lena Dunham gets all the backlash that she does...  Actually, I think I have an idea.  She's a twenty-six-year-old auteur (auteuse?).  She's the captain of her own (media) ship:  writer, director, national headliner. Covers of 'Entertainment Weekly,' even (YES, that is the bar by which I  measure success.) And she's a woman. Or a girl, anyway.

Yes, I think her sex plays a role in the backlash. Not exclusively. But, I don't exactly recall people insisting that Kevin Smith was just a lucky bastard when 'Clerks' came out.  He was about the same age as Lena Dunham was when 'Tiny Furniture' came out.

I don't think that's exclusively it.  That'd be too easy.  Some people also argue that since she's the kid of successful artist-types, she had a leg up.  Yeah, well, so does Rumer Willis (I'm not saying she won't be A-list some day, but she isn't right now).  The point is, having successful parents does not guarantee success for the child.  It sure as hell doesn't hurt, but something about 'Girls' struck a chord with a bunch of people.  Lena Dunham deserves kudos and recognition for that, no matter how she got there.

Weird. I don't know why I felt the need to become a Lena Dunham champion for twenty minutes of my life. I like the show, but I don't love it. I wouldn't miss it if it was gone.

I've been watching it because I have a small fascination with people-in-progress; people who are not self-actualized, but are on their way. People who are somewhat of a mess.  It might be schadenfreude.  I dunno.  But, I also watch the show because at least two of the characters remind me of people with whom I went to college, and that makes me giggle.

Okay, so there's your context for my experience with this show.

During the season 2 finale, the main character, Hannah, is having a bit of a breakdown. At one point, she says the following:

You know when you’re young and you drop a glass, and your dad says, like, “Get out of the way!” so you can be safe while he cleans it up? Well, now, no one really cares if I clean it up myself. No one really cares if I get cut with glass. If I break something, no one says, “Let me take care of that,” you know?

So, here's the thing with that quote. That quote? It is supposed to reveal a kind of a character chrysalis, where she's realizing that she's involuntarily shed a protective parental layer. Now she's all exposed to the elements, and she's having a hard time with that.

But, all it revealed to me is how much of a kid she still is.  I mean, there's some truth to what she says. A (good) parent, yes, does not want you to get hurt, does not want you to shred the bottom of your feet with broken glass.  But also?  As a parent?  I want to save myself the trouble of having to clean up broken glass AND deal with a screaming, bloodied child.  It's not just about safety and care and protection.  It's also about staying sane and not wanting to have to deal with another crisis that a young'un brings upon herself.

This is evidence to me that the character, Hannah, still has a ways to go in achieving adulthood.  What we do as parents?  It's not all about love.  Mostly it is.  But sometimes, it's about saving ourselves more work.

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