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Television has become somewhat of a parent in the past few decades, maybe its more the cool aunt who tells you what second base is and lets you sip their beer, but either way the boob tube plays a serious role in turning you in you. I grew up on Dawson’s Creek, Sex and the City, Nora Ephron, and Christina Ricci.
Come present day, tv shows are being written by my generation and we’re correcting some of our forefather’s myopic stereotypes. First off is Girls, the Lena Dunham HBO comedy that hits back at 90s television with an exclamation point.
The comparison between this show and Sex and the City is not only obvious but overtly stated in episode one. It’s the real deal, and as an un-employed serial interning single non-hipster New Yorker I can tell you it’s disturbingly accurate and often sends me to bed in tears. I knew countless girls who came from near and far to the isle of Manhattan gearing up for a life of lunches at Cafeteria, countless one-night-stands and a quirky dressing literary best friend to put an eloquent spin on their debauchery. Yeah they got all that, but they also had the STD panic of Hannah, the late-night realization that their life was not on track of Jessa, and the never-ending fear that because they didn’t know where the F train terminates that they didn’t fit in and weren’t a real New Yorker that Shoshanna character suffers with.
Sex and the City is great television but it is just television and not the foil for real life our generation took it as. Meta-tv (Scream, Community) has gained in popularity because all of the writers are thinking they’re going to ruin someone’s life by putting lies on TV. This is a bit of an overstatement, but within every drama and comedy there’s an invisible reign being pulled by someone thinking ‘this is sort of real’. Girls is the real Sex and the City, only it’s fiction.
While Girls is an example of fairytale re-telling, with a modern and ironic-glasses-wearing twist, New Girl is a bit more subtle in its approach. (I also love how Zooey Deschanel looks a bit like Shawna Waldron, all big eyes, pale skin, and awkward attitude, a model I connected with when I was young but which was rarely given air time in the big hair, crop top days. Now its the norm, who knew?) Waldron once starred in a movie called Little Giants with Devon Sawa, never heard of it?
Netflix it, it’s awesome. In it she was the tough as nails tomboy who felt she needed to girl it up to get the boy, only then in a final twist he was all ‘but I like that you play football’ kissy kissy.
While this subverted the norms of 1955 where girls wore dresses and boys wore jeans, it created a whole new batch of ideals all its own. Who would want a girl who blushed when she laughed, wore flowers in her hair, and didn’t really know the difference between softball and baseball? A girl who drank light beer or goodness forbid fruity drinks and who had never thrown a punch in her life? No one. Certainly not any character ever played by Devon Sawa.
Then came New Girl and the line, “I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children. And I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. That’s just weird, and it freaks me out. And I’m sorry I don’t talk like Murphy Brown. And I hate your pantsuit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something to make it just slightly cuter. And that doesn’t mean I’m not smart and tough and strong… I’m about to go and pay this $800 fine, and my checks have baby farm animals on them, bitch.”
I’ve never loved any female character in a movie who cried uncontrollably instead of helping her friends avoid the zombie, or ruined her life waiting for a guy (27 Dresses), and I almost hated Scarlett Johanson in Avengers until I realized she was playing us and she was tough as hell. But there’s no reason they can’t wear a dress, be a mom, giggle, decorate their room in pink, and tape DWTS over the world series too. While I appreciate what old school TV was trying to do, and I did enjoy being allowed to play in the mud if I wanted to, what I’m saying is, I’d like my Kaboodle back now, thank you. They will make the cutest case for my hammer and nails.