Telediction: Millenial Word Vomit

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Happy Sunday, Teledictioners. Take the afternoon off, and catch up with “Girls” and “The Walking Dead,” before another episode airs tonight. I know I mentioned I would be covering “House of Cards,” for Telediction, but because I know you’re probably done with it by now, I’ve decided to take it out of this column and review it as I watch the episodes under “Reviews.”

Meanwhile, enjoy thoughts, ramblings and a little peek into my life regarding “Girls” and “The Walking Dead.”

Damn, this would have made a great song for “AHS: Coven.” OH WELL.


Girls

I try not to read other people’s thoughts on TV shows beforehand because as a reviewer – and as a fan – I wonder if it would change my mind. Reviews are best when they present you with things to think about. Sometimes, admittedly, I read “True Detective” reviews to find out just what the hell is going on in that show, but I’m left even more confused than before. I hope my reviews and ramblings serve a purpose, whether it is to entertain or to make you think about things differently, but there’s so many different ways to view a show and in that chaos there’s a sort of comfort. I don’t always agree with what other people are saying, but this last week, I heard an interesting take on “Girls,” that I’d like to explore.

Flavorwire’s review of this week’s episode claimed that the show was shifting focus, becoming less and less about the millennial generation and more about Hannah – and all writers – struggling to find a sense of accomplishment.

But by becoming a show about the artistic evolution of a writer, Girls gives up what little claim it ever had to being “a voice of a generation.” How many members of any generation, after all, are more interested in the ethics of sponsored content than, say, how the protagonist handles a breakup? That might be for the best, giving it a more specific and interesting trajectory than twentysomethings self-sabotaging and intermittently coupling up. It also proves more than ever that Girls doesn’t want to be Sex and the City, a series that did everything in its power to make its viewers forget its main character was an artist of sorts.

As “Girls” passed the halfway mark this season, it would be silly to undermine the attention Hannah’s gotten thus far. It could very well be Lena Duhnam focusing on her life parallels, having recently acquired a book deal for “Not That Kind of Girl,” to be released in October 2015 #IRL, but it’s undeniable the focus “Girls” has had on just one girl – the girl who strongly believes she is “a voice of a generation.” Willingly or unwillingly, the show has become more selfish via Hannah, and it often leaves me dissatisfied with the lack of attention we see paid to anyone else.

This week, Jessa had exactly one scene that served for comedic purposes. She got the job at the children’s boutique, coveted because it exudes innocence, but she’s not very good at it, or is she? She’d make a terrific car salesperson, selling a too-small black frock to an intimidated Brooklyn mom.

“Christening dresses are usually white, aren’t they?” Brooklyn Mom asks Jessa.

“Not the chic ones.”

Shoshanna is also at the store hanging out and venting to her cousin about Ray’s recent success and her doubts about breaking up with him.

“Ray is being written about in popular service publications and my life is a mess, and I know that was a personal choice but I feel like maybe it is time for my to un-choose that choice,” she says before calculating a step-by-step plan to find a committed boyfriend who she can spend her future with. She hilariously targets a classmate named Parker who for the record, she totally believes he can tie his own shoes, and conducts an interview to see if he’s serious enough. The guy’s down for anything and they have a really awkward sex, but that’s standard.

Speaking of awkward sex-scenes, Marnie and Ray have one, captured fully nude by an overhead shot. Ray and Marnie are personally so sad in their lives that they cling to each other as guilty pleasures. Ray is mature enough to cut through Marnie’s bitterness and gently persuade her not to get so caught up in millennial class divisions that she can’t enjoy lunch with him. She ducks in cover when she sees Adam and Hannah doppelgangers, and of course Ray assumes she doesn’t even know what a doppelganger is.

But Jessa, Shoshanna and Marnie all take on supporting roles in an ensemble cast when compared to Hannah Horvath and her issues this week.

Hannah’s got a new job at GQ, which is great, until we realize it’s advertorial – or advertisements masked as editorial work. This is unsettling to Hannah, a writer by all definitions – especially in spirit, because in a sort of “Catcher in the Rye” emphasis on “phoniness,” Hannah doesn’t want to see herself spending the next 10 years stuck in advertorial, stifling her creativity and working for the corporate world.

It’s interesting that “Girls” explores this route, but here’s where I disagree with Flavorwire’s interpretation of the direction of the show. It’s overly simplistic and even crass to claim that the millennial generation’s worries are self-aggrandizing and stem only as far as “how a protagonist handles a breakup.” Being a millennial who absolutely hates the buzzword and slew of articles on the problems of millenials, narcissism and the “selfie,” I have much greater anxieties about my future than whether or not to text an ex after a breakup.

When I was 18, I held a temporary job at a real estate agency as a receptionist. I was filling in for a woman who was on vacation for two weeks. The pay was good; I worked 9-5 on weekdays straight out of high school. I also cried every single day after work. It’s funny to me now, thinking of my blubbering self, picking out a business-casual outfit that wouldn’t get me unwanted attention from 50-year-old men who lingered way to long at the front desk. I fucking hated that job. I hated the condescending remarks from the agents, the backhanded complements – “I thought you we’re 14 or 15 years old. You look so young.” – I hated the monotonous nature of answering phones and the fake smiles, the office drama and the lack of creativity I had. Like Hannah in this episode, when I got home, I would desperately tell myself to work on my writing, to be creative, to do something so I wouldn’t drive myself crazy. When the two weeks were over, I had the opportunity to stay on as a part-time receptionist, but I declined. Talking about it years later, I don’t regret it. I had a taste of that world and I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in it, and that was a very real fear of mine – a fear that never really goes away, and you can only hope you don’t blind yourself for too long to one day realize you’re unhappy.

I think Hannah’s “self-destruction” and anxieties about being stuck are the most millennial topics the show has dealt with to date.

While the focus on Hannah is increasing, I wouldn’t say it’s completely uncalled for. I miss the other characters, mainly the girls in the namesake show, because I think the show could have some serious exploration of other issues in more detail than single scenes that seemed to be tacked on to episodes just to mitigate viewers. Though by focusing on one character, the show polishes a sense of direction that is desperately needed after two seasons of feeling lost.

 


The Walking Dead

When I think of “The Walking Dead” mid-season premiere, I admittedly focused on the first half. The first image that came to mind was a deflating balloon with Hershel’s face on it. In Jean-Luc Godard-style type play, the phrase “Do the Right Thing” seared in mind, flashing again and again over that deflating balloon. It was scarier that any episode of “The Walking Dead,” and when the episode was over, I thought to myself, “It’s only once a week. I can do this.”

The post-apocalyptic drama returned right where it left off. In the midst of their grief of loosing baby Judith, as well as the rest of their community, Rick and Carl are angry. It’s better to say Carl is angry and Rick is just tired. The entire episode is dedicated to the patron saint of preteens everywhere who hope to get “I’m not a little kid anymore” tattooed across their stomachs. (Shout out to Debbie from “Shameless.”)

Rick and his son walk and walk and walk to find shelter. They come across a BBQ joint and some nice houses where they find a decent amount of food. Carl radiates his signature attitude, being stupid all the way through. When they secure themselves in a home, Carl wakes up the next morning and delivers an angry rant about wishing his father were dead. Rick, who looks dead, is in deep sleep and despite the walkers threatening to enter the house, doesn’t wake up. It’s a moment that he isn’t there to protect Carl, and Carl takes this as a moment to show that he doesn’t need protection. “The Walking Dead,” affords Carl way too much forgiveness. Of course he is a child, but when a child deliberately attracts monsters and tries to be an adult time and time again he’s bound receive consequences. The show is terribly biased, picking and choosing what stories to tell, saving the emotional ones and killing off “unimportant” people with the frequency of every couple of episodes. As a show that seems to have no goal but to survive, both in the story and as a show itself, the never-ending storyline leads to a string of subplots that lead to nowhere and characters that are easily forgotten.

There’s a lot to catch up with. Rick and Carl took over half of the episode, while Michonne took over the other half. Michonne leaves the prison with two zombie “pets,” reminiscent of her special method of blending-in introduced in the Season 2 finale. The show finally gives us a peek into Michonne’s life before the zombie apocalypse through a nightmare. She’s shown in her home with her “lover,” Mike, and his friend at the table while she prepares food in the kitchen. The three are casually talking and laughing as Michonne’s baby steps into the frame. Time passes in seconds and goes unnoticed until the two men start talking about the imminent danger and what they will do. She acts as if everything is fine, picking up her son and placing a plate of cheese on the table. When she looks up, they’re missing their arms and Michonne wakes up in a panic. Her days continue like this with her imagination haunting her. She finally reaches a cathartic peak when while walking among walkers, she sees a woman who resembles her physically. Doppelgangers were big this week in TV, I guess. The woman walks alongside Michonne for miles until Michonne can’t take it anymore. She kills the walking representation of what she could be and blows her cover. With her katana, she unleashes her pent-up rage on the surrounding walkers before going back to the dirt-path and following Rick and Carl’s footsteps to the neighboring town.

“The Walking Dead” manages to do this particular character justice. They haven’t characteristically butchered her like they did with Andrea or Lori. Instead, she’s largely been silent, and it took us one-and-a-half seasons to get a better glimpse at her past. Writers are really taking care of Michonne, and it shows. It’s hard to say why they’ve offered her character ample time to develop, while speeding through and giving us archetypes in others.

Rick’s internal struggle this season is a battle with the sheriff archetype. He abandoned the title of leader and became a complacent farmer instead. Carl, and many other characters such as Hershel, viewed this as cowardice – though Hershel was not so blunt about it. Carl desperately wants to show his dad that he’s more of a man than he is, feeling a rush when he gets into danger and escapes – but the moment he senses his unawake father might be a walker, he reverts back to a child. As annoying as Carl is, we have to remember his age and subconscious need for a role model to base his character on.

When Rick speaks in his weakened state, Carl can only cry. The father and son share a quiet moment, reconciling in the span of one episode in order not to waste anytime. Because we have so many dispersed groups to be aware of, I expect this half of “The Walking Dead” to move with a speed similar to the action of Season 3’s second half. This might be the reason why Michonne suddenly got extra character time to explore her past. More practically though, the events were set in motion for Michonne to arrive at their doorstep and knock on their door.

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Author: Claudia Marina View all posts by
Journalism student at the University of Florida. Sally Draper is my spirit animal. I love writing about TV and how it affects culture. Occasionally I watch bad TV, but reviews make it better.

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