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Hard As (Their Unpainted) Nails

We just finished watching the first season of Saving Grace on dvd.  I highly, highly recommend it--it's smart, funny, provocative theodicy.  (On TNT--how weird is that?)  I may say more about this later, but this post is really just about the title character.

Grace Hanadarko is hard-drinkin', hard-smokin', hard-sexin' hell on wheels and she takes it to the world on her own terms.   On one of the dvd extra featurettes, one of the execs said there wasn't another woman on tv like her, and my first thought was, You, sir, obviously haven't met Kara Thrace.

There's no question they're a rarity, though, so I was willing to let him have his hyperbole.  My second thought was that Grace and BSG's Starbuck have something else in common--they've both survived some pretty brutual treatment as young girls. 

I don't really have an issue with this, 'cause it can certainly work that way in real life, and both shows have handled it with refreshing depth and sensitivity (even more of a rarity, IMHO.)

It did make me wonder, though, when tv will be ready for a woman of similar traits without the burden of this particular backstory.

Which, in turn, made me think it's time to get serious about rewatching China Beach (except then I tried to add it to our Netflix queue and discovered it hasn't been released yet on dvd...sheesh.) 

It's been a long time, but as I recall, Lt. Colleen McMurphy would hold her own with both Thrace and Hanadarko, and I don't think there were lots of grim childhood references. (Though, from what I do remember, it seems likely that that's because they were in KC's storyline--I dunno, I was crushing on Delany, not Helgenberger.)

I've always thought it'd be fun to revisit, 'cause, while I'm not even sure how much I actually watched of the first 3 seasons, I have very fond memories of the final episodes.   It was the summer J and I became friends--we both had gotten jobs on our mostly-empty college campus and every Wednesday we'd go downtown for pizza and come back with a pint of Ben & Jerry's to fight over while we watched.  (She always claimed I ate more than my share of the cookie dough.)

And, okay, full disclosure--it was J and I and her then-girlfriend/eventual first wife.  It ain't nearly as juicy as it sounds, though, since their relationship was over before ours evolved; I was always the Best Friend, rather than the Other Woman. Although I did love learning, years later, that upon meeting me for the first time, J's grandmother totally scandalized her by asking if there was something going on between us...and then, having been told, um, NO, hinting that maybe there should be!



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 11th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
I love Saving Grace and Grace Hanadarko with a white hot passion. And I absolutely agree with you that she and Kara have much in common. Wouldn't agree so much about McMurphy though. While I would agree that McMurphy is strong and capable and awesome-defined in the veing of Grace and Kara; she doesn't have that feroicous "attack the world and fuck the consequences!" mindset that both Grace and Kara share. Nor, IMO, the capacity to be so fiercely self destructive, particularly in their relationships.

And as you can likely tell from my screen name, China Beach is one of my favorite all times shows ever, and Dodger is the only character (in a long list of characters I've love beyond all degree of reason) who can stand toe-to-toe with John Winchester and come out in a dead heat, if by a nose at the wire.

And just BTW? Your addiction to parenthesis? Also something I share. :D
Sep. 19th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
Yeah, I wasn't sure how much the connection might only be in my head--like I said, it's been a long time. I was thinking mostly of those "flash forward" episodes , where she was just struggling and totally resistant to letting her husband help...he was a good man and she knew he loved her, but how could she possibly trust anybody who hadn't been through what she had to be of any use whatsoever? (I've been on both sides of that kind of battle and don't they just suck?)

I'd done a paper a year or so earlier on Vietnam vets and read A Piece of My Heart, which is a truly stunning oral history of women who served and part of what so impressed me about China Beach is how much they had seemed to get Exactly Right. That sense of utter alienation was one of those things.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )