class, affect and teen TV; a comparative study
Lots of thoughts on this one. The post below is the comment I left FemmeFeral at Fluffy Dollars. As usual, I'm indebted to the thrifiest girl in LA, my partner in crime and Madaem Librarian for inspiration.
A rough draft of similiar themes. With mzn.
And somewhere out there in blogoland, I've used the phrase "Kim Kelly is My Friend" (somewhere on Haverchuk?) to sum up my feelings about something or other. Why is it this such a beautiful and meaningful title?
So, without further ado, I give you, my thoughts on "class, affect and teen TV; a comparative study"
(a) I think Kim Kelly is My Friend may be my favorite F&G episode. I like the way the series sort of reprimands Lindsay for having been so judgemental about Kim (and for being very unsisterly when she makes that comment to Daniel about how it would be such hell to date Kim). You just don't know what another person lives with, so shut the fuck up prissy, judgemental, self-righteous little Lindsay.
(b) I know Lindsay is cooler than this, but the root of her character is, well, very good girl. Which is why, in the end, I compare her to Joey Potter on Dawson's. Dawson's is melodrama, and F&G is, I think, a kind of TV realism, but no matter the genre, there is something similar about the characters of Joey and Lindsay . . . and it's something lame. Busy Phillips on Dawson's is cool too, but not as cool. And "The Smokers," which is one of the minor works of Busy Phillips.
(c) On the other hand, I found Kim Kelly is My Friend to be a little offensive. While it is great to see, a girl from "a lumpen class back-ground" I disliked the easy equation of: poor parenting = poverty = bad kid. On this one, Dawson's is a little better - unhappy kids come from all kinds of families . . . I even think That 70s Show is a little better, too; the reiteration of this equation over and over in Hyde becomes an ironic critique of how easy it is for some people to make these assumptions.
(d) And you know how That 70s Show diffuses a lot of it's tension with humor? I like that, but the forcing you to watch awful situations play out in F&G is different and one of the best things about the show and part of what give the show, for me, a realist aesthetic. Donna's mabye not a Tough Girl, but she does have a phyiscal presence similiar to Kim, tall with a lot of swagger.
(d) Back to F&G on class, one of my favorite moments is, late in the series, Daniel and his mom in the rain. This is better - the reason Daniel seems like such a fuck up by high school admin standards is because his life involves responsibilities and compromises that your standard high school admins haven't considered. This seems a more nuanced portrayal than the Kelly family. Maybe we are seeing the Kelly fam through Lindsay's eyes . . . so the representation is overblown and emotional, just because she's so shocked? OK, that's a bit much for TV . . .
(e) I'm a little curious about the qualifications for Tough Girl. Class, sex, drugs, wit and physical violence . . . ? Of these, my favorite is the physical violence/physical confrontation thing. In some ways, this is what draws the line, for me, between the Tough Girl and other feminine types - a vixen or whatever is manipulative, not directly confrontational.
(f) In the literary long history of directly confrontational young girls, you've got the women of Joyce Carol Oates Foxfire, whom I'm sure you know.
(g) But with them you've got great scenes from both Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder, where each of them gets violent in the schoolroom. I'm interested in representations of "temper" . . .
(h) And then theres unsocialized children, which you know I'm into.
(i) And just recently I found a reference to Leslie Fielder's work (more literary) on "Good Good Girl" stories, 19th C stories for girls about girls who get sick (or are very poor) and as a result of their misfortunes, learn to be "good girls" - they are disruptive tomboys before, brave patient young ladies afterwards. My children's librarian friend, M. Librarian loaned me "What Katy Did" awhile ago; it's one of these. Now that I'm done with my chapter (!!!) I'll read it.
And that is why my head is spinning so fast and I had so much to say on this topic. Sorry about that.
Good luck with this one.
Categories: books, film, literary