November 6th, 2012

good mris pic

Boardwalk Empire and critical attibution pitfalls

timprov and I are almost done watching S2 of Boardwalk Empire, and one of the ways I viewed S1 has...not exactly shifted, but I have been reminded to be careful in how I talk about this sort of thing, especially with a multi-author work.

In S1 of BE, I feel like I notice an interesting triad of post-WWI New Women: Margaret the Suffragist, Angela the Bohemian/Artist, and Lucy the Flapper. I didn't love all these characters--okay, mostly I didn't love Lucy. But the things I didn't love about her, I still kind of loved, because they were totally period-appropriate. She's a pouty jazz baby--the way she addresses men fairly indiscriminately as "daddy" and whines for what she wants and doesn't care who she stomps on her way to a good time--or whether that good time will last more than five seconds--that's all very period-appropriate. And that's all stuff that's not liking the character rather than thinking the character is done badly. In a cast this size, I can totally live with one Lucy in exchange for an Angela and a Richard and a Chalky.

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Does that mean that the triad I was seeing isn't there in the show? No. It's there in S1. You can poke it with a stick. But talking about it as the thing that I see is very different from talking about it as the thing that they were doing, and the experience of watching S2 reminds me to be careful in making that distinction. I can appreciate it as something cool in S1 of the show without insisting that it's all a cunning plan--and especially without getting angry with the writers when the cunning plan that was not necessarily theirs in the first place falls apart.