I lived in a world full of not-good-enough mothers. Imperfect, bad mothers. But the mother’s a child too. She’s a child. I will stop waiting for you to be the perfect mother. I will be patient with you. I will be tender. I will be the mother I wanted you to be.
Amy Jellicoe from Enlightened “Not Good Enough Mothers” 1x05
I got into the Ingress Beta and started playing today.
Holy asldkjfld there is a hug Rebellion zone on campus. I have a feeling that I’m one of the only Enlightenment players here because those portals are really well fortified. I have a lot of work to do on those things now…
“[This] sounds kind of cynical, but it’s the story of my career. If I have a male protagonist, it’s a studio movie, and if it’s a female protagonist, it’s an indie movie. That’s just how it is…It’s about America and who goes to see movies. Women are interested in men and women, and men aren’t interested in the woman’s story. They just aren’t. There are exceptions, but by and large…unless it’s Angelina Jolie shooting people or Zero Dark Thirty or something that feels like it’s in the male sphere. The devaluation of the traditional female roles or the traditional female approach, it starts to feel like this is what’s wrong with our country. Should I get off my high horse?“
No. Please don’t. This is important. Lately there’s been alot oftalk about women in the entertainment industry, and more specifically about the dearth of movies and television over which they have creative control. Some notable (and not-so-notable) strides have been made to rectify this imbalance, but the real ill (of which the lack of women-helmed work is merely a symptom) is this idea that White raises: that men and women’s stories are not given equal shrift in a larger sense.
But no one seems to be talking about that.
This could be because we haven’t collectively realized it, or it could be that people are uncomfortable bringing it up. Even a smart, forthright guy like Mike White is worried that raising the issue will seem too strident, and self-deprecates his own argument right out of the conversation.
It’s not simply that there isn’t enough entertainment made by women sheerly in terms of volume. This isn’t about trying to even out a canonical power balance or making it so dudes want to watch Bride Wars. Bride Wars sucks and nobody should watch it. What is important is recognizing the tacit message being transmitted to both genders: there are important stories, and then there are women’s stories.
I read the assigned books, and they were fine, but left to my own devices I didn’t have a whole lot of interest in stories of the lives of Boys From the Past. They seemed to be, as Marge Simpson said about music, “none of my business”. Seated comfortably on blankets at the bottom of my family’s linen closet with a giant bag of Doritos, I blew through dozens of books about girls—Anne of Green Gables*, Little Women, Harriet the Spy, Eloise, all the ”Ramona” and “Anastasia” stories. As beloved by girls and smothered in Caldecott Medals as many of them were, no academic authority figure ever suggested that these were important stories we should all be reading.
There are probably a bunch of reasons for this. A big one however is probably that until about 150 years ago, women’s personal stories had what might be called “niche appeal”, but would more aptly be described as “really, really boring”.That’s because for a long time their lives were really, really boring. That’s what happens when you’re only allowed to do like, five things.
Housekeeping, baby-having, loom-weaving, cleaning and preparing raw meat, going to a well, doing laundry in a giant cauldron, trying not to get raped, going to the well again, etc. Such was the daily agenda for most women for most of the time that there’s been a world. Taken against stirring tales of colonial expansion, jungle exploration, starting world wars, hosting orgies, inventing mayonnaise, being (maybe?) the Son of God and discovering the cure for polio, women’s stuff doesn’t exactly pack the same punch. How can we blame men of history for not being enraptured by stories of women’s lives when they have so little to do with their own experiences and the interests and goals they were permitted to cultivate? Still, it is endlessly frustrating and discouraging to be an interested, contributing member of society, yet almost never see your experience mirrored in anything that anyone tells you is important. People of color in America have been saying this for fucking ever.
But things have changed and they are continuing to change.** Women can get important jobs, drop out of school, never learn to cook, watch Law & Order for 7 hours, go on vacation alone, have children, not have children, go to a party, forget to eat dinner and fall down the stairs drunk. They’re allowed to be interesting and complex in ways that men have always been allowed to do, and soon the stories told about them won’t just be about boyfriends and periods and whether or not having it all is possible. Liz Lemon is great, but she’s not the only alternative to Carrie Bradshaw, and only two avatars make for a pretty dull spectrum.
But these things take time. “Hey, you should watch this emotional, character-driven show about a woman, her relationships and the shifting of her self concept!” is not a sentence that’s going to get a reflection-resistant audience of any gender to tune in. The problem isn’t simply a gender bias, part of it is that American audiences are kind of dummies. As a nation, we don’t really want to be challenged by our entertainment. We want to look at stuff that tells us what we already think we know.
Social progress moves slowly, even in a digital age, and the leveling of a cultural playing field probably won’t manifest itself the next two seasons of a premium cable TV show. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there and I remind myself of that sometimes when I get upset about stuff like Kim Kardashian, “Celebrity Swan”, The Westboro Baptist Church and Girl Pens.
“Enlightened”, even if it is cancelled, has already done important work and will take its place beside projects like “My So-Called Life”, “Murphy Brown”, Party Girl, “Freaks and Geeks”, Bridesmaids and, yes, “GIRLS”, as another big push in the slow, shifting of a heavy paradigm.
Later in the interview White says, “I’m afraid this will be the best thing I ever do. I think it will be. That it might be over is sad.” It is sad. Hard working future-thinkers like Mike White are ahead of the curve and it must be disheartening that the world seems unready to consider what they already know: that women’s stories are everyone’s stories.
Enlightened is cancelled. Like, honestly, if the Big C was cancelled, then Enlightened deserved it. I don’t think it’s a horrible show, no, but I found Laura Dern insufferable in her role. Perhaps HBO will give the show a mini-movie or something to tie up some loose ends for the loyal fanbase, but from what the press-release stated, a new show seems to be in development.
Now, here’s to the mini-series-esq final season of The Big C: Hereafter.
This might be unbearable, if it weren’t for “Enlightened” ’s highly original and humane comic engine: it’s a satire of feminine New Age do-gooderism that shares the values of all it satirizes. Like “Parks and Recreation,” “Enlightened” bridges the comedy divide between warmth and smarts: it makes me cry more than any comedy I’ve seen. If “Girls” teaches you to thicken your skin, “Enlightened” advocates emotional openness, even when it hurts.
Emily Nussbaum, in an awesomepiece about “Girls”, “Enlightened”, and the Comedy of Cruelty.
Nussbaum’s piece is a fantastic analysis about two of my favorite shows. This paragraph I’ve quoted captures perfectly what i love about “Enlightened”. I am so self-identifying with Dern’s character, though i’ve often stood back – a bit worried – asking myself, “Am i identifying with satire?"
We’re not old or young. There’s no bitterness or illusions. No need for fear or hope. We’re just spirits drifting through this perfect earth together. We can be free of our sad stories. They float away until they’re like memories of a dream from the night before. Shadows under the water. And what’s left is pure life. Life is the gift.
even though our meeting was brief & inconclusive, thank you for showing me that true connections can still be found without the promise or insinuation of reciprocation or expectations that there is something more to be gained. thank you for showing me that people are knowable, not simply islands but like earths plates shifting, connecting, drifting for a purpose. That even in a hazy dark crowded noisy bar its still possible to find small pieces of destiny. i’d never considered the way a chance meeting could impact you, even if its fleeting & even though i’ll most likely never see you again, you’ve given me a new hope that destiny is comprised of both predetermined coincidence & the paths we choose. that our choices are our own, and there are many roads to diverge but they all lead to a set destination, whether we know it or not. I’m grateful our shores touched, however briefly, however fleeting.
I have awakened. I have rebounded. I’ve crawled out of the well of unhappiness and depression and self-pity that I’ve scuttled around in for the past few months. And it feels great. It feels free. I feel free.
I’m writing about this because I’m a serial ‘sharer’ of my feelings and experiences, but I also believe that some of you may be able to pluck something out of my experience that you’ll find…
Brothers, sisters, to whom this will concern.
You defeat the age old enemy with nobility and honest pride, instinct. As well as with other divine gifts you must recognize.
Understand this and you have found a key that they never wanted you to find.
The pawn of the master and those who lack nobility, will see these words and shall not understand.
The mortal enemy though shall know these words, and recoil in fear.
You are discovered.
okay now i am just dying to know stuff like. can you tell me about your 3 fantrolls (yes. all of them. muahahahah.) motivations? like what do they really want? whats the driving force behind a lot of the decisions they make. do any of their motives conflict with another persons?? (i am a sucker for motivations)