Obvious(ly we’re going to have the) Child

Last week I got to see Obvious Child. It’s a film in which the topic of abortion is tackled, in much the same vein as how films like Juno and Knocked Up have attempted to before. You know the drill: protagonists have one night stand, pregnancy ensues, comedy happens as they work out what to do next.

Except in those films, they never really do wonder about what to do next. Juno flirts with a visit to the adoption clinic and is scared away. In Knocked Up they don’t get any further than Jonah Hill’s cowardly ‘shmuh-shmortion’ line. There’s never any sort of adult conversation about what a mature and responsible decision might be. Abortion is demonised, ungodly and wrong.

Instead of arguing about why that might be I’d rather say how refreshing, pleasing it was for Obvious Child to have its characters talk about what they wanted to do, give it some actual thought, be fucking terrified of what might happen and do what any twenty-something I know would do in that situation and make some attempt to make light of it.

Making a joke about something serious doesn’t make it any less serious. I dare you to be in that situation with your shitty life right now and see if you can keep a serious face permanently without going insane and doing something batshit crazy like that kid that ate hair off the carpet in Russia last week.

Honesty ran a little deeper than just the situation, I thought. Maybe it’s a result of that pesky Y chromosome I was born with but I’m not totally sold by the Brooklyn-based millenials we’re given in Girls. They’ve always felt a little too extreme in their characters to feel like they could actually exist. In contrast, the characters we see in Obvious Child felt totally real to me. There’s a part in the film where one character reaches out to another emotionally, fully expecting to be shot down, but he obviously feels like he has to try anyway. It felt totally natural and relatable and that’s not something I can say as much as I’d like about anything I see on screen.

Most of all, I thought it was a really, realy funny film. Coupled with a genuinely human approach to the issues it tackles and its characters, I suggest hunting it out while it’s still around. Please don’t have a go at me for not loving Girls. 

TV stop it

The Universe should not be allowed to take Tony Soprano away from us before his time. It should not be allowed to do this in the same month that we have the Red Wedding to contend with. It shouldn’t happen in the same year that the US Office ends. There’s only so much I can take. 

James Gandolfini’s passing yesterday is a tragedy. As Tony Soprano he created the single most memorable, ambiguous, enjoyable character that I’ve ever had the pleasure of simultaneously loving and hating. It’s testament both to the writing and to Gandolfini’s portrayal that a character so eminently evil was also so popular and relatable. His fight with Carmela in Whitecaps is one of the greatest scenes I’ve ever seen in anything. 

As someone who wasn’t around when the Sopranos was in its heyday (around in the sense that I was interested enough in TV), that’s the biggest tribute I can pay him. Along with the Wire, he permanently changed the way I watch television, what I consider good and bad, and the expectations as to what TV is capable of. He’s almost single-handedly consigned plenty of okay shows to the never-watch bin of mediocrity. 

James Gandolfini raised the bar as far as I was concerned (and I’m sure millions of others agree) and the world as a whole is a worse place today.