Tig Notaro's One Mississippi Is One Of The Most Relatable Shows On TV
Viewers of One Mississippi are devastated about Amazon's recent decision to cancel the critically acclaimed show, and they should be. This show is nothing but honest, and insightful in a way that so many shows are not. The first season is mostly based on the actual recent events of Notaro's life, and often mirrors the very personal and intimate stories she shares in her book, "I'm Just A Person." Viewers will watch Tig survive cancer, a rare deadly infection, the loss of her mother, and a romantic break-up, pretty much simultaneously. So why would one watch a show with such seemingly depressing overtures? Because you will laugh out loud, and maybe cry too, but mostly, you will look like a dog, who hears a funny unidentifiable noise…cocking your head…ears perked… trying to make sense of what you are taking in, and you wont be able to stop watching, listening, and learning until you do. Tig succeeds in showing us the basic humanity that can be seen in all of us.
Want to know where an androgynous white lesbian and a post-military OCD Step father intersect? Or where a straight white girl can wind up begging a "boy-ish girl" with a double mastectomy to make-out with her? Or maybe where an evangelical evolution-denier can converse with a die-hard agnostic liberal? This show is the place where realistic characters (again, mostly based on Notaro's actual life) from actual diverse backgrounds, intersect. Tig doesn't have to create a reality show, flying in the "token liberal" to come to dinner with the "token conservative." She knows and is related to these people, and they know and love her back. This doesn't mean these relationships are without conflict, in-fact quite the opposite; the conflicting beliefs she engages with are the best part. That being said, she is able to show compassion for all sides, always focusing on each character's humanity.
Even if you haven't had the pleasure of dating a woman whose mother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away (sad to say I have), you will see pieces of yourself in this show. The thing about loving someone who is grieving, is that you get a very specific part of them, one they likely had never known. As their partner, you are grounded in the moment, aware of the bigger picture, able to understand that this time will pass. As the one grieving, they are not aware of all these things. They are floating, trying to understand their loss, wondering what it means to now be motherless, in world where their mother was still in many ways, a home base for them. A love they could go back to, if only metaphorically, if their life didn't work out. Now, they are alone. Except they are not, their partner might be there, still able to focus on other things like rent, and work, and friendships, and eating. This experience will likely bring you closer together… or wedge you apart. Either way, the world continues to turn and Notaro gives us a glimpse of this orbit.
In the same vein as the world continuing to turn among tragedy, Notaro very honestly delves into sexual assault, clearly in a very timely manner. She tells us that many of the episodes about sexual assault were written before the dozens and dozens of industry names were called out, including one of the executive producers on the show, Louis C.K. In fact, One Mississippi, in it's second season includes a masturbation in front of a co-worker scene making it hard to deny a connection to the Louis C.K. events and the episode. During an appearance on The View, Notaro states that she knows and believes some of C.K's victims, and "is relieved" not to be working with him. However, Notaro is addressing sexual assault before #metoo, and before it was common to discuss which celebrity was being called out, over the breakfast table. She is also addressing the complexity of family sexual abuse, the messiness of it, and how it affects family dynamics in general. She shows us how a grandfather can be giving loving shoulder rides one minute, and molesting the next. Again, she shows us the intersection of good and evil, love and hate, and the devastating lack of clarity in-between.
This show isn't about cancer, or death, or being a lesbian, or sexual assault, or make-ups, and break-ups. It's about our un-deniable humanity throughout all of these experiences. It reminds us that none of these experiences happen in a vacuum, or even one at a time, or to one person at a time. One might need to go pee, lose a parent, almost die, change the dial on the radio, recall that they were molested as a child, and fall in love… all at once. We don't get "I'm a lesbian only" days or "Cancer Mondays." In an era that is so politically charged, and so politically disappointing, with fragmented movements and sides to choose, One Mississippi makes picking a side impossible. One Mississippi chooses love and relationships above all, and the rest is the debris one must sort through in order to make sense of it all. Watch this show, I don't care who you are, what your political background, what gender you sleep with, or how many towels you use in the morning (it really can be astonishing how many towels some people use).
By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, and a BA in Communication & Culture, and works with all kinds of people to improve their ability to work with all kinds of people. She can often be found hiding in her laundry room from her two children. More about her on her website.
Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
- How Brittana On 'Glee' Made My Feelings For Women Finally Feel ... ›
- 'Glee's' Naya Rivera on Brittany and Santana's 'New Challenge ... ›
- 'Glee' Actor Naya Rivera's Body Recovered From California Lake ... ›
- Exclusive: 'Glee' Star Naya Rivera on Gay Rumors | Entertainment ... ›
- 'Glee' actress Naya Rivera's Santana comes out to applause - Los ... ›