Tagged: Allison Williams

Martha Thomases: Naked Dessert

My jealousy nearly deprived me of Girls.

You see, Lena Dunham went to the same college I did, albeit several decades later. And here she was, a successful filmmaker with a series on HBO. That should have been me! She was being hailed as a feminist hero. I should have been the feminist hero. How dare she take successes that should have been mine, just because she actually did the work and put it out there!

Lucky for me, the backlash against her started almost immediately. She didn’t deserve her success, said critics, because her parents were famous and that gave her an unfair advantage. I felt quite comfortable ignoring the show. In fact, I felt cool, because only lame people follow crowds.

Real mature on my part.

My moment of truth came during the opening number of the 2012 Emmy Awards, which featured a peek into the ladies’ room. In a shot that is almost a throwaway, someone opens a stall and there, naked, sits Lena Dunham. Eating an entire cake. With her hands.

It was every nightmare I have ever had.

I admired her willingness to go there, to stand (well, sit) naked on national broadcast television. Like me, Dunham’s body is short, squat and generously padded. Unlike me, she didn’t seem to care.

If this were all there was to this story, there wouldn’t even be a story. I started to watch the series, and, at first, I didn’t understand why there was such a fuss. A series about four hipster twenty-something gifs in Brooklyn on a pay cable network that had just finished Sex and the City (about four stylish thirty-somethings in Manhattan) didn’t seem that daring to me. They were white and educated and had parents who were all capable of bailing them out of any problems they might have. They were pretty much the epitome of white privilege, and they seemed oblivious to it.

This turned out to be a feature, not a bug. A lot of the humor came from the obliviousness of the four main characters.

A lot of Very Serious People have written a lot of Very Serious Commentary about the generation dubbed Millennials. These kids want everything handed to them on a silver platter. They care more about their Instagram accounts than they do about real people. They don’t understand the meaning of hard work. They expect to be coddled. If you added a few insults about their hairstyles and choice of music, you’d have the exact same complaints that I’ve heard about every new generation for as long as I’ve been alive.

Young adults, just out of school, are assholes. It’s simply a law of nature. I, myself, was so insufferable when I got out of college that I still sometimes wake up in a cold sweat, remembering the stupid things I said in arguments with other people in public places. And it wasn’t that I was evil or anything. I just had strong opinions, but not enough experience with the world to test my opinions in reality. Learning how my values work in the real world has been one of the most interesting experiments of my adult life, and if I’m lucky, I will have time to do a lot more learning.

The four women who form the core of Girls are figuring out how their very different world views interact with their very different ambitions. There is the earnest Hannah (Dunham), the conventionally beautiful (and rather conventional) Marnie (Allison Williams), the cute but serious Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and the utterly insufferable Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a character I found so repellent that it took me several years to consider whether I hated the actress or maybe was supposed to be that repulsed.

They have crap jobs with good prospects, boyfriends and one-nighters, failures and successes. They have men who are their friends, and men who are their rivals, but none of them have men who define their lives, either to the audience or themselves.

By the final season, which ended last Sunday night, we had a sense that each character had a life in front of her that would not be perfect, not by a long shot, but that would be much more complex than any happily-ever-after could possibly be.

I expect the same will hold true for Lena Dunham. She didn’t create a “perfect” television show, but she did create one that was interesting. She is not a “perfect” public figure, and she often said some incredibly stupid things. She will probably say more. I did. Unlike me, she’s in a position to use her privilege in a way that makes her mistakes more difficult to make in the future.

I don’t know if there will ever be a Girls reunion, although I would imagine that there are those already lobbying for one. I wouldn’t want to see one for a few decades. It would be fun to see them together, maybe at an independent living facility, catching up with each other’s lives and grandchildren, trading tips about how to best be female at this stage of their lives.

Mindy Newell: One So Right, One So Wrong

“You are a traitor and I am the fucking CIA.” – Carrie Mathison

Have you been watching Homeland this season?

Homeland suffered not a sophomore slump but a jumpy junior year, which im-not-so-ho, admirably redeemed itself with the emotionally tortured final story arc of CIA agent Carrie Mathison (the magnificent Claire Danes) and her lover, the “almost” terrorist Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (the brilliant Damien Lewis), which left Carrie pregnant, Brody dead, and viewers wondering, “Where do they go from here?”

Well, where they went has been one brilliant roller-coaster ride.

The season four premiere was a two-hour feast of Carrie Mathison six months after the death of Brody, with the geography shifting from Kabul to Istanbul to Washington, D.C., as Carrie coped with a failed drone strike and the death of the CIA station chief in Istanbul at the hands of an angry mob.

Oh, and the reality of her (detached) motherhood, which included Carrie deciding to drown Brody’s child in the bathtub. But was that real? Or only the tortured dreamscape of a woman in torment over sending her lover on a mission that led to his death?

And that was only the beginning.

The show this season has been leaner, meaner and more complicated than ever. It revolves around the ramifications of that drone strike gone wrong in the first episode, by which, instead of killing a terrorist leader as it was meant to, the Americans rained death down upon a wedding celebration. There are no easy questions and there are no easy answers, as Carrie, Quinn (Rupert Friend), new CIA Director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) and Saul (the glorious Mandy Patankin – and if he doesn’t win an Emmy for his work this season I’m never watching the Emmys again) deal with the twisting truths, lies, and complicated relationships that define United States foreign policy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East.

Homeland has reached season episode nine, titled “There’s Something Else Going On,” which aired two weeks ago and left viewers and critics alike with their jaws on the ground and in agony over the fortnight break. I have been avoiding spoilers – not my usual policy, as I am a spoiler whore – over what happened last night (in Mindy-time, tonight as I’m writing this) in episode 10, which is significant.

Reading what is to happen usually only whets my appetite to see the spoiler played out on screen with the nuances of the actors adding more depth to the written word – but this time I have luxuriated in the suspense and the “What the fuck!? What the fucking fuck!! – to quote Lockhart in episode 9 – aggravation of having to wait two weeks for answers. And I wasn’t alone. Yep, Homeland was the topic of conversation around the OR table for the last two weeks. Those who hadn’t seen it yet were all “Shut up! Shut the hell up!” and those of us caught up were all “Two weeks! How could they do that to us!”

I don’t want to give you any actual spoilers as to what created all this exasperation, but I will give you two hints. Think RPGs and Benghazi. Of course by the time you read this, episode 10 will have aired, releasing all the pent-up frustration, so it’s all rather a moot point. I’m only hoping that after the two-week bye (to borrow a sports term), the producers and their team don’t come on the field lazy and fat, but sleek and muscled and ready to win.

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I have a place where dreams are born / And time is never planned. / It’s not on any chart, / You must find it with your heart, / Never-never land.” – Neverland, Mark Charlap, Julie Styne, Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green

Of course, there was Peter Pan Live! to look forward to and to help bide me over.

I have loved the musical, based on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale, ever since I saw Mary Martin as the boy who refused to grow up back in the dark ages of television. And I also have had a special relationship to the show ever since I played Peter at Camp Monroe the summer I was eight years old. I remember as clearly as if it was yesterday all the words of every song and much of the dialogue; none of the joy has left, despite the 52 years laying between the then and the now. “Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning” will always be the direction of my life.

I so wanted it to be good.

Allison Williams was… fine. Yes, she can sing, but there was something wanting in her portrayal, some impish mischievousness missing, some boyish callousness and selfishness lacking.

Christopher Walken was an embarrassment. Was he actually reading his lines from cue cards? Sure seemed that way to me. With memories of Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook haunting me, I just could not believe what I was watching. Honestly, I was cringing for him.

And why were the Lost Boys so grown up? They seemed more like the Lost Gen-Xers. And what was with those German schoolboy costumes? Left over from last year’s “The Sound of Music Live?”

Ecch, there was so much wrong with it. Not even the clapping of every single child in the world could bring this “Tinker(ed with)” Peter Pan to life.