Friday, July 29, 2005

The Nate of Self-Hate

A TV review is no place to go and shake someone to the core of their being.

Instead of offering the standard chuckle-worthy snark, Heather Havrilesky's Salon column about this week's episode of Six Feet Under (warning: spoilers) is a wake-up call to the not-entirely-living. It's a big glass of ice cold truth in the face of anyone given to fits of cynical detachment, spiraling neurosis and/or self-sabotage.

I don't particularly like the character of Nate Fisher, yet he's the one I most often find myself identifying with. Why the hell is that, Heather?

"What's brilliant about him, as a character, is that he embodies the very worst of the so-called sensitive, liberal, enlightened, privileged white world. He has a cushy job, a smart, beautiful wife, a reasonably sane family, and an adorable daughter who never babbles on tediously like most toddlers. So what does Nate do? He goes crawling off to screw a relative stranger and tricks himself into believing that his infidelity is a piece of some greater search for meaning.

"In other words, Nate embodies all of our selfish urges and all of our pathetic rationalizations for indulging those urges. He's a big, sad child who finds it impossible to connect with those who actually matter to him, who are in his life, who care, and instead goes running after wholesome-seeming strangers whose complicated needs aren't apparent to him yet.

"But here's the sick thing: Nate has, from the very beginning, served as the perfect blank protagonist onto which the viewer is meant to project him- or herself. The degree to which we despise Nate is directly proportional to the degree to which we hate our own selfish, lazy, endlessly rationalizing selves."

Well, goddamn. That ruins my whole weekend.


jennifer said...

Yeah, I found the review kinda heavy, man.

But I was way more pissed off about the Salon review of "The Aristocrats," a documentary about the world's filthiest joke. Every other reviewer has taken great pains not to give away the joke or its structure, but Stephanie Zacharek just spoiled the whole thing. Argh!

Anonymous said...

I love the work of Heather Havrilesky, even when she brings me down.

And I decided not to read the review of "The Aristocrats" precisely because I feared that the joke would be revealed. Don't spoil it for me, Jennifer!! Damn that Stephanie!

Terri R.

Greg said...

I rarely agree with Stephanie Zacharek's conclusions about movies even when I like the same thing she does.

Fortunately, I forget anything beyond one-liners after about five minutes, so the joke remains fresh for me despite the spoilers.