Just the Tip
I love Ray like I love a helpless puppy. That the first season of Hung coincided with economic collapse was perfect. A man struggling to find his masculinity using his, um, manhood in the midst of his own crumbling life offered the perfect metaphor for the strange ways men are seeking to evolve in a changing world. Journalist Hanna Rosin recently pointed out in an extremely popular Atlantic article that men have suffered much worse from the Recession as women’s careers have actually benefited from it. A gender tip might finally be happening, reports Rosin, allowing women to occupy more places of prominence and power than their male counterparts. But if I learned anything from last night’s Hung, just a tip ain’t enough!
Which is perhaps why we see this season opening on a huddle of women’s problems. Far from the ideal feminist community, Lenore and Tanya continue their bitchy battle for control of their product, Ray. Lenore, while a little stupid – really, the clenched fist of the workers in revolt is a sign that Ray is to expand his sexual repertoire?! Sure, art is a little subjective, but not that subjective! – wields the power of her own sexual confidence and attractiveness over a sneakered, floppy-haired Tanya’s insecurity. But Tanya’s scrappy willingness to turn to a real pimp for help might just be what she needed to get Ray to want that leash…I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of that guy! And we can add Jessica to the long list of women we’ve discussed so often on this blog who, once they find the domestic security they think they want, go a little haywire. So far, as Jessica remains a likeable character, though, she offers a more interesting version of this phenomenon. Jessica knows she’s walking the wrong path. The next generation is willing to see and point it out to her. There’s a level of self-awareness that we don’t get with, say, Rita from Dexter that might just make this standard plot a little more interesting.
As I’ve been flying through the first few seasons of Friday Night Lights in my spare time recently, I had to laugh at Ray’s attempt to pep up the baseball team – he’s no Coach Eric! But with The National’s “Fake Empire” playing in the background, the scene took on a lovely poignancy, and it’s inability to fully reach the masculine drive it was seeking hit the right note. The song is about (inasmuch as one can say any song by the National is about anything) a post-Empire America, the current America – the America whose dream is broken but still clung to, whose men are failing, but still in power. It’s about the final days of an empire we’re all waking up to learn is fake. And, strangely but wonderfully, it’s the song (sans lyrics) that Obama played as he left the stage after winning the election (I’m not kidding – watch the video and listen carefully!). It’s a devastating song that nevertheless holds an element of hope because it tells the truth. And there’s something to that in Ray’s character – he’s telling the truth about who he is…he’s just a big dick. Not metaphorically of pejoratively, but literally. And contrary to popular belief – as Ray will show us week by week – while a big dick can do a lot of things, it doesn’t automatically make you a man.
The added question this season, I’m excited to observe, will also be, what makes you a woman?
Posted by Natalie