Friday Night Lights | Created by: Jason Katims
Welcome to Dillon, Texas. Here you’ll meet the Dillon Panthers (Smash, QB1, Riggins, Street, and many others), some of the girls (Lyla, Tyra, Julie, and many others) and watch them grow up under the guidance of Coach Taylor and Mrs. Taylor (soon to be Principal Taylor). For those of you that are unfamiliar, I’m taking about Friday Night Lights. Adapting it from the film of the same name, a team involving Jason Katims and Brian Grazer (professionals at making me cry) produced five seasons of the show that followed a group of kids as they made their way through high school and into college. Even though the main focus of the show was about the teens and how they chose to meet the challenges they faced, you can’t watch Friday Night Lights without acknowledging the relationship between Coach and Mrs. Taylor. It is without a doubt one of, if not the definitive example of, the portrayal of a healthy marriage on television.
Coach and Mrs. Taylor are the epitome of life goals. One thing that is always apparent is that they communicate. If Coach comes home from a particularly hard day (that the viewer is aware of before Mrs. Taylor) and he doesn’t seem interested in talking about it, she has a way of bringing him around that isn’t naggy. She doesn’t push him, she encourages him. She has also proven to be a partner that has valuable advice that could potentially solve his problems. Another reason that their partnership works so well is that their common interests intersect (football, their daughter’s well being, enriching the lives of the kids around them). This becomes really apparent when Mrs. Taylor becomes the principal of Dillon High where Coach is head of the football team. You can imagine that there is a lot of head butting when it comes to budgets and disciplinary action for players, among other things. At times, this led to legitimate conflict within their marriage because they ended up bringing their work home with them. However, at the end of the day, they always reverted back to what they considered to be their main priority. Their daughter Julie came first. Although they didn’t always agree on parenting methods (dads don’t have the most logical ideas when it comes to teenage boys), they both had Julie’s best interest at heart. Coach wanted her to be safe and Mrs. Taylor wanted her to be happy and to understand the consequences of the decisions that she would try to make without taking much consideration. They were attentive parents, the circumstances made them both slightly over involved, but everyone’s lives were better for it, including their own.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
Parenthood | Created by: Jason Katims
The next show that Jason Katims and Brian Grazer brought to television was an adaptation of the film Parenthood. The show shared the same name, but definitely had many more dramatic moments. I remember the night I tuned into the series premiere expecting a light hearted “dramedy” with some lessons about parenting. However, I ended the episode almost having gone through an entire box of tissues after being punched in the heart by the last fifteen minutes that included the clip above. I remember vividly realizing that I was in love with this show and these characters, and I cried for five long years after that, once a week, on Thursday nights. The show focuses on members of one very large family. Matriarch Camille (an artist at heart) and patriarch Zeke (the world’s best grandpa), their four kids: Julia (an overachiever), Adam (the family man), Sarah (the divorcee), and Crosby (the baby), plus each of their four individual families. There are kids, grand kids, parents, grandparents, step parents, and any other family member you could think of that make their way through this show’s dynamic. They didn’t always spend time on the story lines and the family members that deserved the most attention, but when they did, like I said before, it was a punch to the heart.
Main themes that weaved their way through the series included Sarah’s kids Amber and Drew trying not to follow in their parents’ footsteps and make the same mistakes. They were considered the “cool” branch of the family, but had to work hard to outrun the shadow of an absent alcoholic father and a bit of a flighty mother. (Lauren Graham performance as Sarah is probably one of the most underrated on the show.) Adam and his wife Kristina spent the series coming to terms with the fact that regardless of coasting through life as the perfect son, life will always end up dealing you shit that you aren’t equipped to handle. Throughout the series run their son Max get diagnosed with Asperger’s, Kristina has a battle with breast cancer, and at one point Adam loses his job. Julia, the family goody two shoes, deals with infidelity in her marriage, a really problematic spoiled child, and her work/life balance. Finally, the baby of the family, Crosby, is greeted by an old flame who had a son and never told him (enter Jabbar, the cutest baby ever). I could write thesis after thesis about this show and everything that happened, but I think the moral of the story and what this show tried to say, is that life happens. Similar to the stories that our friends wrote for you this month, these huge events aren’t always planned, you don’t always expect them, but when you’re fortunate enough to get the chance, you have to dive in head first.
The Kids Are All Right | Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
The Kids Are All Right focuses on a nontraditional family that includes moms Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) and their two kids. The film focuses on the period of time when the kids decided to look up their biological dad, whose sperm each mom used to conceive one of the two kids. Their familiar is a perfect blend of the four of them, plus a dash of Mark Ruffalo (who plays the baby daddy). Of course, adding Paul (Ruffalo) to the picture stirs up a bunch of drama. Nic and Jules don’t want him around, because they don’t think he should have any claim on their family. His services were rendered, a one-time deal, and the kids should have no interest in him. But, I think understandably, a teenage boy with two lesbian moms has a yearning for a father figure. So when Paul comes into the picture, he disrupts their family dynamic. Jules (Moore) is intrigued by him, and they have a brief tryst, causing tension between the adults in the film (they aren’t all right either).
This is a movie that I have always loved. I’m a fan of Lisa Cholodenko who wrote and directed it. (She also directed the phenomenal mini series adaptation of Olive Kitteridge.) She has a way with making the simplest relationships and characters very complex and nuanced. The problems that this family has to work through are different than most, but they are familiar nonetheless. What happens when a stranger enters your marriage? Or when your kids prefer a stranger to their parents because of DNA and sex. This story doesn’t so much ask the question of who is right or wrong because there is way too much room for grey areas. This story is just that. A story about a group of people, a family, and what happens when their lives are disrupted by new (somewhat unwelcome) family. Life rarely gives us exactly what we ask for, but I think that how you treat people in times of stress is an indicator of character. And trudging through experiences that you may not have been ready for will only better prepare you for the next time around.
Father of the Bride| Directed by: Charles Shyer
Growing up, I thought my life path would follow a similar route to Annie, the daughter from the Father of the Bride series. Live an upper-middle-class life in Southern California, go to college, after college go to Europe on vacation, meet a boy in Europe, get engaged, get married, have a kid, get your dream job, and have a perfect life. There so much in these movies that reminds me how I have failed that path. The only thing I've done that has met that criteria is living in Southern California and going to college (can't complain). Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of these movies. Steve Martin is my dad reincarnate. My relationship with my father, which is a great one, mirrors the daddy daughter relationship in the films. I wonder if films like this will be made in future years. Nowadays, this perfect life is so fabricated andout of reach that it seems too fiction. Through life, we meet amazing couples with their amazing families living a seemingly amazing life. What makes them great is that they can "seem" that way. Behind closed doors the truth lies. When will films be made about that truth behind closed doors? When will we see a film about a couple overcoming hardship in their marriage and not jumping to divorce?
Sex is a Funny Word | Written by: Cory Silverberg
One day, way long from now, it's going to be really difficult to talk to my kids about sex. It's awkward but necessary. As a nanny, I have witnessed firsthand a nine-year-old boy discovering the world. As an important adult figure in his life, and his little sister's life, I have become very aware of every word that comes out of my mouth. My words influence what they think. Since I'm only in my mid 20s, I find myself getting too comfortable with the kids... like we are friends. Quickly I realized that censorship is so important, but honesty is an amazing tool. The kids parents purchased an educational book called Sex Is a Funny Word, written by Corey Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, that deals with this obvious transition.
Sex, bodies, words, relationships, sexuality, and privacy are the subjects discussed. I took it upon myself to read the book. I felt like it would help me if I were to be asked interesting questions down the road. Growing up, I had a similar book, made by the American Girl company, that talks about the subjects above in a very sugarcoated way. The idea of "boys are mean to you because they like you" set the tone of that book. What Sex Is a Funny Word accomplishes is the truth. Giving definitions about what masturbation is and bisexuality, etc. will help kids become more open, accepting, and respectful of others bodies and their own. To my knowledge this is the first sex talk book that is geared toward boys and girls. The knowledge we give our sons (and daughters) will change generations view of sex and create a safer world.
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation | Written by: Rebecca Traister
I was seeing this book everywhere. The title was popping up on Must Read lists in all of my magazines and email recommendations. Then when I took a closer look at the title, I figured it couldn’t be more perfect timing. All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation (I mean FUCK YES, am I right?) is a collection of information, stories, experiences, and VERY interesting facts about the history of unmarried women throughout history as well as the climate surrounding this group today. The book is really amazing, and I highly recommend it. The stories and insight provided by the people that Rebecca Traister interviewed are too great for me to try and paraphrase, but there are a few things that I wanted to share that caught my eye.
- Not all women who fought for their independence were single. There were many women who found partners and decided to marry, but they made sure that their marriage would not be like the rest. For example, abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone married Henry Blackwell in 1855. The couple asked their minister to read the following statement, "While acknowledging our mutual affection, by publicly assuming the relationship of husband and wife .. this act on our part implies no sanction of, nor promise of voluntary obedience to such of the present laws of marriage, as refuse to recognize the wife as an independent, rational being, while they confer upon the husband as an injurious and unnatural superiority." Stone also kept her last name, which led to generations of women who have done so since being referred to as "Lucy Stoners".
- The term spinster was derived from the word spinner, which since the thirteenth century in Europe, had been used to refer to women, often the widows and orphans of the Crusades, who spun cotton, wool, and silk. By the sixteenth century, spinster referred to unmarried women. In the New World, "spinster" gained a more precise meaning: in colonial parlance, it indicated an unmarried women over the age of twenty-three and under the age of twenty-six. At twenty-six, unmarried women became thornbacks, a reference to a sea-skate with sharp spines covering its back and tail.
- In his 1957 Harpers piece, "American Youth Goes Monogomous," Dr. Charles Cole, president of Amherst College, wrote that "a girl who gets as far as her junior year in college without having acquired a man is thought to be in grave danger of becoming an old maid."
There's an overriding theme throughout the book, and you could say throughout society (Traister quotes Mitt Romney saying something similar), that unmarried women lose a lot of the opportunities that can only be afforded to married women. That somehow, their lives will be less fulfilling. I could not disagree more, and neither could Traister. She has the evidence to prove that independent women have done just as much, if not more, for this country and for the world. Regardless of whether we choose to follow in their footsteps, no one will be paying attention to the man who was walking behind us.