On a couple of occasions recently I have found myself having an internal conversation of which I am not proud.
To a point.
Not proud, first, because such conversations spring from watching Non-Highbrow Television. You know, telemovies on the Universal channel, routine procedurals, etc.
The scripted television hierarchy for me goes like this:
1. Really, really good on every level
2. That which many consider guilty pleasures and/or only family entertainment but which are actually smart, great shows
3. Pretty good – decent procedurals/predictable but nevertheless funny sitcoms and/or kids shows I’m too old to watch but which are still pretty damn good
4. So bad they’re good
5. Mediocre/Predictable/Wholly formulaic
I live in the world of 1-3, and wade frequently into the pool of 4-5. I’d prefer not too, but we all have our weaknesses. And clearly enough of us have them to generate an audience for such programming. For which I am grateful. And embarrassed. And grateful. And embarrassed.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that I’ve found myself spending some time at level 5 recently, and, in turn thinking the following:
“Wow, she sure looks her age”, followed rapidly by “Thank goodness she looks her age.”
Women in their mid-40s, on television, in HD, looking like women in their mid-40s.
Which is not to say bad at all.
Just looking un-injected and un-touched-up. With wrinkles around their eyes, and maybe their lips, and a certain something about their necks and/or decolletage and skin generally. Looking great, just not 25. Actors who have been on television or in films since their 20s. Who I have seen on television since their 20s. Who no longer look like they’re in their 20s, but nor do they look plastic.
It’s fantastic. I really appreciate it.
But that was not my first reaction. My first reaction was, essentially, “damn she’s looking old”. And I’m really not happy with myself for that. Why did I think that? Am I ageist? Am I just so conditioned by Hollywood? Have I just met/seen a lot of really well-preserved women? (I’ve met a few 50 year-olds in the last few months who have floored me with how un-flawed but un-injected they look.) Am I judgmental cow?
All of the above.
I’m not proud that my first reaction is “damn she’s looking old”. Ideally I’d like to not notice at all. Given that’s unlikely, I’d prefer that the entertainment industry generally was not so youth obsessed and training the rest of us to be in what seems like the proverbial vicious circle. And if it has to be, I’d prefer not to be sucked into it even if I don’t realise I’m being sucked into it. Not everyone is under 35 or over 60, which seem to be the only categories allowed.
So, in short, I’m very much pleased to see women on television – even in predictable, crapola programs which are really appealing with just the right number of alcoholic beverages or when one’s brain simply needs a break – who look fantastic but also the age they actually are. And I’m really going to try to only have a positive reaction to that, and eventually not notice at all, instead of noting it derisively before remembering it’s a bloody good thing.