In its fourth episode of the season, Girls continues to let us know that our early twenties years contain some of life's best experiences: publishing a piece of writing on a hipster blog, dating an artist of midlevel fame, going to the "best warehouse party ever!", losing your virginity, getting a surprise marriage. But amid these exciting times, Girls characters are exploring those big, troubling questions that maybe they'll never shake. In this episode, "It's a Shame About Ray", even gruff Ray gets a little vulnerable. "What makes me worth dating?" he says to Shosanna. "What makes me worth anything?"
Much of Girls so far has dealt with romantic relationships. But in last night's episode, "Bad Friend," the drama centered on the hard work of handling friendships. Namely, best friendships. The tension that has been simmering between Hannah and Marnie since the beginning of this season finally exploded in a coke-and-bad-sex-with-a-terrible-artist-fueled showdown.
When Girls premiered last year, so many pop culture–loving feminists had pinned hopes on the show that it disappointment was almost inevitable. In a raft of post–Season 1 interviews, Dunham hinted that many critiques of the show—chief among them the issue of its attitude toward race—would be addressed in Season two.
In 1957, Elvis asked us to "Put a chain around my neck and lead me anywhere" in the song "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear." Fifty-five years and a whole lotta writhing, panting, and spanking later, pop culture's fascination with BDSM still knows no bounds. So why, in the jaded, post–50 Shades 21st century, do kink and feminism still make uncomfortable bedfellows? Come with me on a journey through BDSM and pop culture to find out more...
Last June, NPR reported that the "end of gender" was near, citing everything from gender-neutral prom courts to clothing ads to suggest that perhaps people aren't so hung up on the male/female gender binary anymore. But despite the growing trend of gender neutrality, the response to disappearing gender constructs in politics and in popular culture isn't always positive.
Of course one doesn't have to go finding autism in popular fiction—it's the subject of intense cultural fascination right now, so it's just there, everywhere. In novels like Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Jodi Picoult's House Rules; in films like Mercury Rising, Mozart and the Whale, Adam, and of course Rain Man; and in television shows like Parenthood and Alphas. But I do believe that, in my latest post, I exhausted my personal list of autistic characters whom I—as an autistic consumer of fiction—enjoy and whose stories I find compelling. Someone in my position might just have to go looking for autism to find more autistic characters with whom to relate.
I do not mean nor wish to suggest that, for a person to relate to a character, said character must be like the reader or viewer in every way. Of course one could identify with characters who are very unlike oneself. But fiction is a very powerful force. It influences the way we see the world and ourselves. When there is a glaring lack of characters with certain traits, or existing representations fall into harmful tropes, it hurts.