• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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For A While Maybe Longer

Everyone keeps asking me what I think of Girls, Lena Dunham’s new television show for, by, and about twenty-something women and women who remember what their twenties were  like.  They assume I will REALLY like it. First, I fucking hate it when people makes assumptions about what I will and will not like. (I hated Welcome Back Kotter, ET and Joni Mitchell.) Then, I feel suspicious; why are they assuming I will like it so much? In this case, obviously Lena Dunham’s size twelve body is to blame, then her “quirkiness,” her dysphoria.   I had an allergic  reaction to the show at first. But I kept watching, mostly out of jealousy. Lena Dunham is, like, 25 (I’m not going to pedia her, you can look it up if you care). And now ,five or so episodes in,  I’m really liking it. It asks you to like it on its own terms, unlike most half hour comedies that will  go down on you they’re so desperate  for approval. Not Dunham, she takes off  her clothes and drops her drawers, but you don’ t really know what makes her tick or what she’ll say next. I think that’s what I like about it: it’s not completely predictable.  She’s a really good writer, too, god damn her. And a really good director.  How! How! These kids today, they’re so fucking talented.   My college age intern admitted that he watched it, called it a guilty pleasure, and then asked that he not have to talk about it.  Say no more.

What book, tv show or film are you insanely jealous,  or:  why am I not Lena Dunham?

49 Responses

  1. There are so many work easily so much better than any of mine, how could I pick one out? And why am I first here again? I’m not trying to be.

  2. I’m insanely jealous of how Styron wrote Nat Turner AND Sophie’s Choice, and how FF Coppola produced The Godfather. Yet, as I sit (okay, lie here) here on the couch, brain fried crisp, watching The Bachelorette, I’m getting pissed because Emily is a size zero who just said she doesn’t work out. And I’m insanely jealous of that, too. Damn it !!

  3. dear lord, who am i not jealous of? nussbaum, daum, dunham, fey, strayed, kaling, lawson, groff, bechdel, darst. frankel (is there anything she can’t sell?) i wanna be ellen. i want to write for showtime’s shameless and hbo’s enlightened. but i can’t even get the slang…all this time i’ve been using “wiki” as the verb. shows what i know.

    • http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Wiki%20It

      Even if no one has ever used it as a verb before, so what? “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Is this from Emerson, or George Bernard Shaw? I wiki-ed it, but nothing definitive came up.)

      I mean, if we’re going to get technical about it, “wiki” is actually an adjective, meaning “quick” (and what the hell does it mean when you wiki the word “wiki?”). I think I need to lie down.

  4. John Rogers for Leverage. Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss for Sherlock . Joss Whedon for damn near everything he’s done.

    I’ve always wanted to write for TV — my version of running away and joining the circus. Except I already know how much backbreaking work this particular circus demands and that I don’t even have the talent it takes to be the Elephant Manure Sweeper, but I still think it would be so cool.

  5. An episode of The West Wing made me cry once, not the plot or characters, but because the writing was so heartbreakingly good.

  6. You should try Joni Mitchell again. Way way way better than Girls.

  7. I have no idea what the hell Girls is. But I hear you on the whiz kids. I used to sit with them in my office and try to focus on the shrinkage that was necessary, but often I was really distracted by wondering why/how they got to be so fundamentally extraordinary. I’m amazed by how slick they are in comparison to my essential doofusness both when I was younger and now that I’m an old bag.

    • They’re empty inside. The weightlessness helps them reach startling heights.

      That’s from my poem, Balloons. I also have one about my cat.

    • I actually know a bunch of these whiz kids. They’re running rampant in the medical field. Most are pushed to excel from a very early age. They’re over educated and overly ambitious; a generation ruined by Mr. Rogers to believe that they’re just so special. What happens is that the real world shows them otherwise and they literally burn out. One girl I know left Big Medicine to live in a cabin and become a midwife. Another surgeon is hiding out, writing poetry. An on and on… Their parents are freaking, “What a waste,” they say. As the writer in their midst, I whisper, FLY!, and wish them well…

  8. Girls has won me over, though, at first, I was skeptical. Mostly because of all the nepotism talk – I thought it might be too self-indulgent and obvious. But the writing really is good and what has impressed me most is that Dunham seems entirely fearless. Where else on TV would do you see a size 12 woman with small boobs get naked? Or a relatively unattractive guy beat off in front of his pseudo-girlfriend by way of revenge?

    So, yeah, I’m also jealous of Dunham.

  9. Deadwood on HBO. Girls is appallingly bad.

    • Loved Deadwood! The language! The potty mouth of Ian McShane’s Al Swearengen (was there ever such an apropos name?). Pure Shakespearean poetry. Not so much jealous of David Milch as much as in awe of such monumental talent.

  10. I don’t watch network TV. Sometimes HBO. I’m an MSNBC woman, I hate fucking FOX. Well, we all know where I politically stand.

    I am jealous of Enya. Years ago I wrote music for a band and myself. I was told that most of what I wrote was too ‘pretty’ they said, too ‘ahead of itself’. Christ, I was writing and playing New Age before New Age was invented. When I think of Enya, I think of Marlon Brando, “On the Waterfront” I could-a been a contend-a”.

    Okay, dating myself. Mary Tyler Moore. I was ‘the Mary’. My apartment even looked like hers. Christ…”those were the days my friends I thought they’d never end…” they fuckin’ did. Oh well, now I’m Edith Bunker.

    I’m jealous of Diane Sawyer’s hair, Rachel Maddow’s brain and Oprah’s money, does that count? And I’d love to have a pair of Christane’s Amanpour’s balls, she’s got big ones.

    • Well, you certainly covered the water front. I always suspected Amanpour might be hiding something.

  11. I don’t know Girls and I’m not jealous of anybody (maybe insane, but not insanely jealous). I’m more interested in size twelve. Is that big now? Twelve used to be for thin girls.

  12. I’m jealous of the writers on “Mad Men.” HIre me, Matthew Weiner. I used to be jealous of the writers on “The Wire.” Both these shows, as others have suggested, are visual novels. Really hated the first few episodes of “Girls” (This is New York. No people of color?) but will give it another try since Betsy apparently admires the writing, and because my husband and I are preparing to go into “Mad Men” withdrawl.

    • oops, I meant “withdrawal”. I haven’t had my coffee yet. Can’t spell, type or without the java.

      • I kinda like “withdrawl”. Reminds me of southern Indiana. It’s a midwestern thing, I guess.

      • You’re onto me, Mike. I’m from southern Ohio, and I do still pronounce it “withdrawl” even after many years of living in Cambridge. You can take the girl out of Dayton…

  13. Someone must have said: Betsy, you must watch Girls. This woman looks exactly like you!

  14. Every writer on Mad Men. Stephen Moffat of Sherlock and Doctor Who.
    Bethany Frankel…to take your personality and realize you can make money and take care of your family by turning your weaknesses into strengths, yeah, she’s laughing all the way to the bank.
    Neil Gaiman. The way that creativity is infused in everything he does. Maybe that’s the difference. He lives his life putting artists of different mediums together whereas so many of us live with the creative aspect partitioned off.
    Maybe there was a moment when each one of them went balls to the wall and it worked…

  15. I am often amazed at the work and accomplishments of others. Most often, though, contentment is mine, and satisfaction comes from small things, like growing corn in a kiddie pool.

    This is the first of several varnish days, if weather allows. The preparation is done, and now each layer goes on and must dry before it can be given tooth for the next. Then I’ll smile at the brightwork, and it will smile back.

    A thing of beauty is a job foreever, they say.


    • Marine spar varnish, Frank? Should make a beautiful finish.

      • Yep, yep. Epiphanes, with a good boar bristle brush. I swear, though- if you varnished in a NASA clean room, a gnat would still find its way onto it before it hardened. There are few constants in this life, but gnats in varnish seem to be one.

      • I spent a decent part of Saturday painting sections of a PT boat with white pigmented oil-base gloss enamel – between the stress of following The Navy Way To Paint and the #@& bristles falling out of the brush, I think I have stumbled upon constants #2 and 3.

  16. I’ve been jealous of Tabitha of BEWITCHED fame since I can remember. I spent much of my childhood trying to wiggle my nose without the aid of any digits. Back then I wanted material things to appear, like an L.L.Bean down vest or maybe even a man I could call Dad. Today I’d be content with the house cleaned.

  17. I live in a dream world and I’m insanely jealous that Woody Allen stole that dream, wrote/made Midnight in Paris and then won the Oscar. Actually, on second thought, I’m not that jealous. I applauded when he won. I love seeing my Parisian fantasy life on the big screen.

    My second major film jealousy is that Angela Cartwright got to play Brigitta in the Sound of Music. Many years later, I played the role on stage, but it just wasn’t the same without Julie. I hated the Maria they picked. My nine-year-old self never fully recovered.

  18. I’m jealous of you: of your poet soul (deny it if you will), your authors, your career, your writing, and most of all your blog titles. Falling in and out constantly.

    Still, I’m glad I’m me.

  19. Shonda Rhimes, for sure, because she gets to work with Sara Ramirez…And Audra McDonald….and she is crazy-phenomenally successful right now on the small screen. Sometimes she (and her cadre of kickass colleagues) write scenes that completely slay me on the emotional, dead-ass “on”-ness of interaction between her characters. Yeah, some of the storylines are over the top, a little too, too much to be believed. But, in the midst of that craziness, she will pop out with something that will just tear your heart out. (As I am writing this, I am recognizing the parallels between the rollercoaster ride that is a Shondaland series and a fatal-attraction crazy-maker relationship, but hey…I don’t wanna marry it, I just love her shows. I’ll take my drama in one hour installments once a week, please.)

  20. I wish I could plot like the writers of Breaking Bad.

    • You got something there. Great show. Best on TV for my money. The character arcs for the lead characters has been nothing short of a master class in characterization. Oh, yeah, the plotting doesn’t get any better. I’m very interested on where they go next. I suspect it doesn’t end well for either of them.

  21. Yesterday I got an email from the daughter of a couple whose summer “camp” I look after. Mommy and daddy aren’t up yet, so this recent college graduate and her boyfriend decided to put in a garden as a surprise for her folks. At lunch time I went and checked out their work. They had torn out a stone wall the young woman’s parents had put in and left the rocks all over the lawn I mow. On another section of lawn, right in front by the driveway, they had bought some beautiful black dirt and formed a half dozen pumpkin, watermelon and squash mounds. No preparation had been done, just dirt dumped on the lawn and shaped into forms like basketballs with flat bottoms.

    I like to garden. It’s one of the pleasures in my life to work with dirt (I like working with wood and paper also, but today I’m thinking dirt), to help vegetables, flowers or fruit reach a, ahem, ripe old age. We have a beautiful sweet spinach crop this year and later, when our bee balm blooms, I’ll enjoy watching the hummingbirds hover and then dart about, crazed from the flowers natural nectar. I’m jealous of those who create meandering, multiple tiered beautiful gardens with flat stone paths, fountains and benches plopped down at ideal viewing locations. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into a sucessful garden, planning, digging, planting, weeding, trimming and sheltering plants from frost. This little pumpkin patch on a lawn had none of those ingredients but still I’m jealous that these kids can be so blatantly clueles and revel in their obliviousness. The plants will grow, I’m sure, and when momand dad come up later this month, they’ll surely be surprised.

    I’ve been in awe of many books and recently watched the remake of 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale (I think). I was amazed how good the dialogue was and how well the characters complexities emerged. Found out at the end the screenplay was by Elmore Leonard.

  22. The Game of Thrones series makes me ill with envy, not only for the scope of the work but also because each character is so fucking heavy and alive and angry. Their stories unfold naturally, as a result of each character’s influence on those around him, so that you get not so much a sense of plot as of amped-up realism on an epic scale–dragons and all.

  23. I’m like a couple others on here – and had to Google “Girls” to see what it was about, it looks interesting.

    I recently watched “The Hatfields and the McCoys,” on the History channel. I was envious of the writing for that – more than likely due to the fact the second book I’m working on takes place in the Blue Ridge mountains circa 1925. Different time – but similar enough all the same. I’d like to think the cryptic “Devil Anse” Hatfield (played extremely well by Kevin Costner) is similar to my protagonist, but I’m sure I’m a bit delusional there. I’m with you Mike D about 3:10 to Yuma. That movie had my heart racing, not knowing what was going to happen next – much like Hatfields/McCoys.

    I do more reading than watching TV but I recall feeling the jealousy twinge when watching “Boardwalk Empire…” and maybe during a few episodes of “The Sopranos.”

  24. I can’t be jealous of the creator of AWAKE – which had NO reason to be cancelled and also better end up on cable and I’m not joking, television – because first he made Lonestar. Yipes.

    Jealousy is when you’re not happy for the person right? So no. I love creative people and I’m certainly not jealous of people who aren’t creative. Although sometimes I hate other things about people, both creative and not. So… ::wanders off::

  25. If I am to wallow in jealousy, it is for the good luck, happy coincidence, right-place-right-time-right-connections karma that at the moment not only eludes me but crosses the street when I ’round the corner. My creative endeavors are presently an odd strength magnet that attracts very little of that popular ferrous metal, leaving me to carefully wave my queries and proposals in search of Something That Will Stick and Stay. Thankfully, I have the patience of a tree.

  26. I just vacuumed the upstairs and the dog and cleaned the bathroom. It smells so good and I’m three on the freebie list which most of you are not familiar with, so I’m not jealous of anyone. I’m crazy about me right now.

    • I’m glad somebody is. I only get jealous of people I don’t like (or rather, who don’t like me) having any smidge of success. Everyone else, I figure I’ll either join their club someday, or give up wanting to.

  27. As I said in fan-mail to Richard P., one of the Presidents of HBO (pretty sure there are at least two) – I love Girls, what an outlier Lena Dunham is coming along in the age of rampant vanity without succumbing (even the tiniest bit) to its allure, instead putting herself out there (at times near excrutiatingly so) emotionally and physically, asking the viewers to love her warts and all. It’s so much easier, artistically speaking, to pander than it is tell the truth –

    to which he replied (in part), Girls is special because Lena is special. Only 24 and did it all herself. Once in a generation talent.

    I wish my daughter had written Girls. A freshman in college, she finds the show alarmingly true. I’m too old to have come up with the material.

    My dream job would be to write for Jon Stewart.

  28. I’m not jealous of anyone or thing. It’s an ugly emotion. Or, it can be.

    My experience with jealousy was not healthy or funny or productive.

    This is the about the worst sides of jealousy.

  29. Amazing! This blog appears precisely like my old 1! It is on a entirely various subject however it has pretty a lot exactly the same page layout and style. Wonderful option of colors!

  30. Good post. I’m facing a few of these issues as well..

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