Yes. All of that.
After three years of book research, I have checked off the final item on my to watch/read list.*
In six months, I turn thirty. I like where this is headed.
*for now (clearly)
My birthday is coming up, so I’ve been thinking about Sally Rogers. Funny Sally, with her blonde hair bobbed and curled, a black bow affixed on the left side, flowered dresses that cinch at the waist and billow over the hips. She’s the type of woman who wears a single strand of pearls that settles just above the collarbone when she goes out for the evening.
My birthday is in late February and hers is in early March and “Where You Been, Fassbinder?” is the most depressing example of what it’s like to be a single woman, dateless, on your birthday.
Because God has an excellent sense of humor, I am a confirmation mentor.
‘You know I’ve been Presbyterian for like a minute and a half, right?’ I asked my confirmand and my pastor and have said to everyone who’s been on the receiving end of this story.
No one seems to mind this fact, and so on we go, exploring the denomination, larger Christianity, faith in general and other Big Questions.
You know what’s really hard about that? No. Scratch that. You know what’s really easy about that? Being glib. It’s really easy to turn the whole thing into some big chucklefest. It’s really easy to brush the whole thing aside with a dusting of ‘you know, God, or whatever.’
What’s hard is being sincere. Not even in answering the questions, but in asking them in the first place.
My favorite TV trope is the narrated montage at the end of an episode. It occurred to me that my evening prayers are not unlike that—a series of images and the greater themes tying them all together. Maybe that’s why good days are the best prayer days: nothing is better than the happy/sentimental concluding narrated montage.
Well, no, of course not. When Nick At Nite launched in 1985, The Donna Reed Show had been off the air since 1966. That’s 19 years! Friends only went off the air in 2004. That’s only seven years. So really, it is a much newer show. This is the fact with which I initially patted and comforted the petty part of me that worries about such things. I mean, if they were still showing exclusively things of the same vintage they once did, they’d be airing shows that went off the air in 1992. Shows like … The Golden Girls.
Wait, WHAT? The Golden Girls is as old now as The Donna Reed Show was when Nick At Nite started? That’s right, folks. It is.
You know what else is? The Cosby Show.
This sort of thing happens all the time, probably as much to a pop-culture commentator as anyone. I’m constantly noting things like when Die Hard came out, or when Cheers ended, or when Live Aid was. It’s always a little bit jarring — as it is when people I think of as having sensibilities roughly similar to my own remind me that, for instance, Friends is something they really loved when they were in sixth grade. And I feel myself doing the thing that people once did to me, the “Oh, you’re so young!” thing, the thing that feels like it has no right answer, because it’s vaguely condescending even though it’s sincerely meant to be envious and flattering.
(Quite honestly, people who think 26-year-olds are flattered by 40-year-olds gassing on about how young they are haven’t been 26 in a while. And I say this as a memo to myself, believe me.)
[Spoiler warning: this covers the entire first season of Nurse Jackie. If you haven’t yet watched it, I encourage you to do so.]
Back in June, I asked if there was room in my small, dark heart to love another TV nurse. After two episodes, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Nurse Jackie. But as the weeks ticked on, I started to fall for the show, a little bit at a time.
Things started getting good in the third episode, as a subplot involving the older of Jackie’s daughters, Grace, and her mounting issues with anxiety. Anxiety doesn’t get much play time on television – Degrassi gave it a little bit of treatment with Paige when she started college – but not really, and especially not a continuing plot arc with a child. As someone who started getting really panicky in elementary school, I applaud the visibility of the issue. Also appreciated: Jackie’s wavering feelings on the topic. In one of the later episodes, Jackie’s best work friend, Dr. O’Hara (love her), calls Jackie out for sounding angry about her daughter’s condition, to which Jackie asks, who gets mad at her daughter for something she can’t help? It’s an honest reaction/interaction and that side of the story is just as deserving as the anxious child.
It was episode six, however, that really anchored my love of the show and its characters. In that episode, a retired, and dying, nurse comes into the hospital to seek Jackie’s assistance in suicide. The nurse makes sharp, sarcastic Jackie look like Susie Sunshine, but her fierceness in death makes her just as loveable as Jackie. Double bonus for episode six: this is when we find out Dr. Cooper has two mommies. And, check it, they’re normal. Like, actually human beings, and treated like every other couple on television. Revolutionary!
Treatment of gay characters (there are two gay male nurses) is a continuing bonus of Nurse Jackie. In the season finale, Mo-Mo and Dr. Cooper are bemoaning their love lives while working on a patient. Mo-Mo says how his boyfriend has a thing for straight guys and open relationships. The patient (middle-age male) tells Mo-Mo he’s got to make his boyfriend jealous. Dr. Cooper swoops in with the idea for a fake kiss with Mo-Mo to send via text to the boyfriend. Revolution, part two. (Really, honestly, I can’t stress how awesome it is to see homosexual nonchalance on television. Maybe making a big deal of it is counter to that idea, but it’s so damn unusual that it can’t go unapplauded.)
What I’m still questioning is this: where do we go from here? By the end of the season, Jackie’s at-work boyfriend has discovered Jackie’s marriage and children, though the viewer is left not knowing if he’s spilled their relationship to Jackie’s doting husband. We also don’t know why Jackie’s been cheating or why she’s so deep in the pill habit that she downs three vials of morphine at the end of the season finale. In interviews, Edie Falco has said that’s part of the mystery, not spelling it out, which I can totally agree with, but I at least need some crumbs. Mysteries aren’t much fun without clues to keep us guessing.
Other issues in the last episode are the stuff of season finales: will Zoey get the boot for almost killing a patient? What’s the deal with Dr. O’Hara and her mother? Will Dr. O’Hara be able to forgive Jackie for ditching her?
At this point, I can safely say that I can’t wait for the second season to find out what happens.