"Art may imitate life
But life imitates TV"--Superhero, Ani Difranco
In the current edition of Entertainment Weekly, writer Jennifer Armstrong surveys the current landscape of post-Sex and the City television and wonders what's next.
A critique of the numerous knock-offs of SATC (Cashmere Mafia, Lipstick Jungle, Men in Trees et al), Armstrong reminds us that before SATC grew into a cloying caricature of itself, it was considered groundbreaking because it gave a serious voice to a cultural demographic that had never before been portrayed sympathetically on TV--single, urban women over the age of 30.
Armstrong goes on to posit that the current TV landscape is downright cluttered with knockoffs of the once "groundbreaking" show and wonders what group could be next in having its plights dramatized for the enjoyment of viewers.
The answer seems about as obvi as an ankle sprain caused by too many cosmos on too-high Manolo's: how about *real-seeming* people? You know, people like thee and me who can't afford 400 dollars for a pair of shoes, who wear clothes from mass merchandisers, who live either in cluttered shoe boxes of apartments or in dilapidated homes with too many roommates? People in relationships with non-dramatic everyday problems, people with an equal assortment of married and unmarried friends? People who do not hold glamorous jobs, but who fret over the petty indignities of life in middle-management? Those of us, who for however much life throws at us, things remain basically the same? People who might be reading this blog, for instance.
While I have no illusions that my life of budgeting for groceries, fretting about credit card debt, and occasionally worrying that my bf flirts with too many pretty girls may sound hopelessly boring and unworthy of dramatization, I also believe that the realities of post-20-something life in the city is a realm of existence that has been unsatisfyingly documented by the network powers-that-be, at least in a dramatic fashion. Sure, Seinfeld worked a bit of this magic in the 90's but even its main character was a working comedian, a gig far more glamorous than your average Joe or Jane's. And 30 Something spoke a bit to these realities back in the 80's, but via a tabula that was downright suburban.
What we need is an updated My So-Called Life set in the present day, where Angela Chase in not a high school student, but a woman in her 30's trying to navigate the world of almost-grown up Jordan Catalanos and Brian Krakows. Where the complications of her parent's marriage has ended in divorce, and where she must struggle to align her familial loyalties. Where more assured than in her teenage years, she continues to struggle with insecurities, questions of self-worth, and the ever-looming dilemma of what-she-wants-to-be-when-she-grows-up.
While such issues are occasionally illuminated by shows portraying characters in their 20's, there's an underlying message that such problems either dissolve into marital and familial bliss come the age of 30, or that by that age, one is so wealthy and fabulous that an entirely new set of problems will present themselves. As if 30 were some magical age by which the problems of one's youth are all at once resolved, or a bend in life's road somehow steers us in a new and better direction altogether.
Many of us know this not to be the case. And for those of us, there should be a TV show that is sympathetic to our mutual plight.
In the comments section pitch me an idea for a new TV show. Or tell me what you think Jordan Catalano would be up to these days.