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the ladykillers

coming soon on hbo
dom and i belatedly watched the truncated last season of "entourage", wherein we see the tale of the boys from queens living the high life in hollywood wrapped up, but not so tightly that there isn't room for a movie to wriggle out at a later date.

i wasn't thrilled with the first season of the show, but i did find that it got entertaining afterward, especially from seasons two through four. as someone who is interested in the workings of the movie industry, i enjoyed the fantasy of hollywood it presented and cringed at the probably more realistic problems with ego, money and politics that consistently came into play. although the last season concentrates less on that than on the personal lives of the characters, it's still fun. however.

thinking about it, there is one section that bothered me, not just because i resent it a little, but because it reveals something about progress of women in the minds of hollywood writers. or lack thereof.

[warning: spoilers ahead if you haven't seen the last season]



the part i found troubling is a story arc with the character of dana gordon, a powerful industry executive who, although she has her career knocked around thanks in no small part to her dealings with the boys, manages to make her way forward in a difficult industry. in the final season, writers chose to exploit a storyline that had been teased practically since her introduction, which is that there is a romantic connection between dana and obnoxious but ultimately good-hearted super-agent ari gold. they connect while ari and his wife are separated and in the process, the show's writers chose to tear down probably the only strong female character they'd developed in eight years.

once she is seen as feminine and sexual, she becomes a different person- suddenly lonely, needy and willing to take whatever limited emotional involvement that's offered because, as she keeps mentioning, she's forty and alone, because she's sacrificed the rest of her life in the name of her career. this might come as a surprise to regular viewers of the show since, in the midst of the story arc where she was originally introduced, ari, desperate to contact her [professionally] stalks her at the school both their children attend so that he can surprise her when she comes to pick them up. at that point, she's apparently a full-on super-woman with a senior position at a major studio who can still make the time to pick up the tots from school. what the hell happened?

by the last season, her kids and her memory of them [along with the person who presumably fathered them] have been erased from as if she were visited by the men in black. [which would imply that her husband and/ or children had some alien connection, which is kind of a weird unexplored subplot.] as we last see her, she fulfills all the stereotypes we've come to expect about women in the workplace- that those who are able to advance have done so at the expense of their femininity and the loss secretly haunts them. granted, "entourage" has never exactly been a beacon of women's lib, with virtually all of the female characters representing masculine fantasies- physically perfect, smart, understanding and sexually available- but this seems like an especially nasty way to treat a character the audience has come to know.

in the meantime, ari's wife melissa [she finally gets a name halfway through the season], who has asked for the separation so that she can explore new things after twenty years of being a housewife, fills her time with cooking, dating an iron chef, spending time with her children and getting angry at ari for being insensitive to her needs and being an absentee father. at least dating the iron chef is something new, i guess. it's obvious from the beginning that husband and wife will eventually be reunited, but we still get to see the whole thing played out at the expense of the successful career gal, the only recurring character to be left truly unhappy in the end.

journalist susan faludi wrote about this sort of characterisation of working women in her book "backlash". at the time, of course, she was talking about films and television shows that were coming out during the reagan years, when north america seemed to take a sudden moralistic turn back toward the fifties. while i felt [and still feel] that some of her criticisms were unjustified, a lot of them were dead-on. now, a quarter century later, it seems that hollywood still can't resist the allure of the super-woman whose heart secretly breaks as she sits alone and unloved in her stylish apartment.

i'm assuming that the next thing we get is a remake of "fatal attraction" or "baby boom".

sigh. back to my unmarried, childless, near-forty existence, which i'm sure i must secretly hate.

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