Tonight, Susan Faludi is speaking at the Los Angeles Public Library. And tomorrow, I will officially be in my 30s. These things seem unrelated, but they are not.
Because, you see, when I was about 15, I was the world's biggest fan of the show thirtysomething, and watched all the reruns on Lifetime. I'm not sure why I liked it, as I was certainly not the target audience. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the actress who played Nancy went to high school with my dad. Or maybe it was that everybody on the show seemed so old to me, but it still seemed like they were playing at being grown-up.
Then I turned 17, and picked up a copy of Faludi's Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, in which thirtysomething does not come off well.
At first, my hackles were up because this was, after all, my very favorite television program. But by the end, I realized, "She's right! They made Melissa all man-crazy and pathetic and Ellyn had to go to a shrink, and everybody hated Susannah because she didn't want to stay home with the baby, and meanwhile, good, perfect Hope was good and perfect because all she did was clean up baby puke and do things for Michael. This show sucks!"
So, thank you, Susan Faludi, for hopefully helping me to be a much better thirtysomething than I might have been otherwise, even if I am skeptical of the premise of your new book.
And another thing about thirtysomething, it does not hold up well. Watch the advertising agency brainstorming scene above, compare it to any episode of Mad Men, and you'll see what I'm talking about.