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Not the voice of my generation

Not the voice of my generation

There’s a scene in Season 2 of Girls where Marnie announces that she’s got a new job as a hostess at a club. She’s wearing her uniform: high-waisted shorts and suspenders. (Elijah tells her she looks like a slutty Von Trapp child. Haha.) Her friend and former roommate Hannah, who is as usual by the fridge stuffing her face, says she would never work there because SHE has made an active choice not to sell out her gender. Ouch. Lets forget that both girls have taken jobs that are clearly meant to make rent, given the economy has rendered it impossible for them to make money at jobs they are qualified it. So, let’s call you un-feminist because you’re doing what it takes to make it in the city.

Increasingly, I have become disgruntled with the characters in Girls, and indeed the whole show, which is sad considering I loved it to death in its first season. For starters, since season 2 premiered last week, it became evident that the writers should change the name to Girl, or Hannah since Lena Dunham’s character occupies all the episodes screen time. Very little Marnie, a slim bunch of scenes with Jessa and worst of all HARDLY ANY SHOSHANNA WHO IS TOTES THE MOST AMAZE PERSON ON THE SHOW. While the dialogue still holds a semblance of sharpness, the characters (the character) are starting to grate on my nerves.

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It was all very well in season one, where Hannah and gang had to establish the plight of a young person living a hardscrabble existence in tougher-than-nails New York. Part time jobs that make the rent, long term boyfriends that have started to piss you off, jerk boys you obsess about and get bored of when they start liking you…I got all of that. There’s even a scene in season one where Hannah has just found out her ex boyfriend is gay. She’s messed up about it, but instead she starts dancing in her room. Have I ever had “All-my Life has been a lie’ moments and then literally started dancing with a friend right after? Yes. Which is why I was looking forward to season two. But if the show has tried to bring back the kind of spontaneous freshness of that moment, it has failed and that’s me being nice about it.

Hannah has done a fair bit of annoying things this season. She broke up with Sandy (who breaks up with Troy?) because he didn’t like her essay and she threw a fit about it and put it down to “wouldn’t date someone who didn’t respect women and gays.” Please!

Be a confused toss-up of defiance and insecurity, “Oh you’re saying I’m not good looking enough for a pretty girl job?” As a person who always sees slights where none are intended, I get that Hannah can be insecure about her looks and her writing but she should at least rein it in. Or try to.  Getting snarky when Marnie got her waitress job. Just say, good for you, and move on like a friend. You work at Grumpy’s and Ray is your boss for heaven sake. (Though Ray is amazing btw. Love that guy)

In any case, I am still giving Girls a chance. I would perhaps be ready to forgive the increasing annoyance of Hannah, if Lena Dunham writes in scenes with the rest of the cast. You’ll understand my not wanting to spend thirty minutes of my week dealing with all the problems in Hannah-world.

“The King stay the King”- D’Angelo Barksdale: A tribute to David Simon

“The King stay the King”- D’Angelo Barksdale: A tribute to David Simon

If you haven’t watched The Wire, a series that first aired on HBO in 2002, here’s some advice. Don’t. If you do, television will be ruined for you forever. The Wire created by David Simon and Ed Burns is indisputably the most intelligently written, insightful, brilliant television series in the world. Think I’m being gushy? Tell that to the academics who are responsible for having the show used as a legit college course in over four American universities.

Behind the genius of the show, which deals with different faces of the city of Baltimore through a complex web of unforgettable characters, is David Simon, a crusty, opinionated, mouthy journalist turned writer. (Side note: Journalist turned writers are the best. They make me dream of the days when people will say, “Sheena? Yes she had a pretty good byline. Damned if I knew she’d be getting the Pulitzer some day.)

The show ran for five seasons on HBO. Of course it had a strong plot, great characters and unbelievable dialogue, but lots of television has that. What makes this one stand out? It is really the story of a city, the story of terribly flawed post-modern institutions in every civilised democratic society. It explores what these flaws mean to you – no matter which team you play for – the police force, government, education, the drug racket, even the media- you’re doomed before you start out. The Wire was created, by Simon’s own admission, along the lines of a Greek tragedy. Only the vengeful Olympians were the government, the media, your high school, and the helpless mortals were protagonists who were “confronted with a rigged game and their own mortality.”

This is why I admire David Simon, based on what I’ve seen in countless viewings of The Wire.

First of all, he has something to say and he found a way to say it so that people would listen. A story is just a story but the stories that stay with you are the stories with subtext. The Wire is a great story with incredible subtext but as powerful as you find the subtext now, if Simon had to sit you down and start a five part lecture on the pitfalls of government and failings of capitalism, you’d be yawning your head off in a minute.

Second, the characters. Not only are they a million of them but each of them is painstakingly sketched out, down to the way they speak, act and think. In this interview with Nick Hornby, Simon explained how he spent years “gathering string” on politicians, drug dealers, cops and school level kids. Details are everything. Oh and here’s the other thing about his characters. None of them, not the incredible Stringer Bell, whistling Omar or the cheery Bubbles, take precedence over the plot. Characters, well loved ones, are killed sometimes, because if they had to be in a similar situation in real life, they’d die. We deal with it as viewers because we’re so drawn in by the plot, we say, “Well, he had to die. There’s no way he could have survived.”  And that’s good writing.

He also takes time with his narrative. The shape of Simons writing for the show unfolds like a novel in that he’s in no particular hurry to rush through the facts and get you from point A to B. I can’t help but compare this to what he said in his lecture on the Audacity of Denial, about the four ws and one h of newspaper reporting. “A four year old can tell you when, how, where and when. It’s the why that’s important.” In his storytelling, it’s the why that takes centre stage.

But all this is neither here nor there. The point is, David Simon wrote about a world I knew nothing about, a world that never touches any part of my life, stays outside my social, professional and personal life, never reaches my news papers or my computer, and he still drew me in and forced me to stay.

– Sheena 

Awkward sex and Aamir Khan: Should you bother?

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Awkward sex and Aamir Khan: Should you bother?

Over the past week, I watched two new shows that have stirred much controversy, Here’s my take on them.

Girls

HBO’s new show Girls is about four girls living in New York City. There is a fat girl with an awful boyfriend, a pretty girl with an overly kind boyfriend, a virgin and a whore. Yup, friend group staples, of course.  Leaving the race and nepotism issues aside (because I don’t care about that), here are 5 reasons you should give HBO’s Girls a chance

1. If you like smart dialogues like “My medium baggage is that I bought four cupcakes and just ate one in your bathroom.” “What I’m having is a physical and inappropriate reaction to my total joy for you and your self discovery.”“I do explore, and right now I’m seeing this guy and sometimes I let him hit me on the side of my body, so…”

2. The characters, sometimes and in some moments, are completely believable.  20-year olds that deal with situations in a very insecure yet defiant fashion. Plus the protagonist is a chubby writer (ding ding ding).

3. If girl-centric shows are your guilty pleasure. (Every week I hate myself for watching New Girl and 2 broke girls, but I watch it anyway. This one’s a much better option.)

4. Lots of awkward sex. Finally, television acknowledges it. Finally.

5. It’s not Sex and the City

Satyameva Jayate

Aamir Khan’s much-awaited, much-debated, show airs on multiple channels in multiple languages. Two episodes down, here are 5 reasons, I watch Satyameva Jayate; you can use your own discretion with this one.

1. The cheesiness of the opening sequence and the overly emotional song at the end, though annoying, don’t take away from some of those stories the people on the show have.

2. We’ve forgotten that television still is a medium to create awareness. We might not care for the format or the set (that brick wall is eyuck) and the show may not change the world, but it might at least spark a thought in the minds of India’s large population.

3. Sure, NGOs and activists have been fighting against female infanticide and child sexual abuse for decades and now, just because a celebrity talks about it, it’s going to make a difference. I agree. But you cannot grudge Aamir Khan for using his ‘celebrity status’. At least he’s trying to do something with it. Bollywood has a major influence on us and sometimes, unfortunate as it is, it takes an Amitabh Bachchan to say “go get polio vaccines” for people to listen.

4. I’m a pseudo-cynic. I hope things will get better, and I hope someone will make it happen and I want to give this show that chance. Sure, many shows before have debated social evils, sure. But for whatever reason (they were English language shows, on channels that didn’t reach the masses, they didn’t have celebrities) they haven’t had an impact the way Satyameva Jayate has had. (I’m talking here, of course, about the Rajashthan government approving a fast track court for female feticide cases). Yes, he gets paid three crores, yes, there are aspects that aren’t focused on (What are the names of these illegal abortion clinics? And what is to be done when the parent is the sexual offender?) but he does get a lot of things right like…

5. The workshop at the end of episode two, where Aamir Khan teaches kids to differentiate good touch from bad, something most parents fail to do…wow.

– Sharanya

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