Spoiler warning - if you have not watched the final episode of the HBO series, Damages - DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.
Please note: I watch selected TV series on DVD because I refuse to let TV schedule my life, so this discussion is not current to the latest programming.
I just finished the final episode of Damages, and it is not sitting well.
Damages has an engaging and twisting plot about two powerful and ambitious female lawyers. It is a story from which you can't walk away, but the resolution of the tale has a dangerous message in my opinion.
After all is said and done and there has been considerable devilry and wickedness, we say goodbye to the two main characters securely fastening the white hat on one and the black hat on the other. The evil heroine is left to her fate- rich and alone, while the good heroine,poor as a church mouse,is blessed with family and the love of a good man.
Rich and successful or poor and happy, are these our only options? I believe that this portrayal of women's choices in life does us all a great disservice.
I am the first person to say that my children are the greatest gift of my life but that is my experience not a universal truth and it is important that my daughter knows that. I agree that money cannot buy happiness but I am not prepared to say that all successful business women are miserable and lonely.Wealth and joy are not enemies. I am uncomfortable with the monochromatic choices which are presented in the moral tale scripted for Damages.
Can a woman not be successful in business and rich in family too? Of course she can and we all know women who are living proof. It is sad but too true that generally men in media are still not asked to make such choices. In fact,men are increasingly portrayed finding great satisfaction in their work and personal life.
OK, I agree I may be reducing the script of Damages to a simplistic argument and I realize that the sad lonely woman in the limo was also dishonest, unethical and, well, yes, she did have someone killed...
But my point is this:if televsion wants to become our moral guide then it needs to work a little harder and craft more complexity into its endings. Happy ever after or miserable ever after are both lazy exits from a story which presented complex characters. As an audience we are treated to real human beings with a little bit of good and a little bit of bad, tossed about in circumstances beyond their control, doing the best they can, even when that seems to be pretty darn pitiful. And then you toss us this ending?
Please, TV gods, after teasing and thrilling us with multi dimensional heroines do not try and pawn off a simplistic denouement of princes and wicked step mothers. We can handle a little uncertainty and mystery; after all we live and thrive with these every day.