never married, over forty, a little bitter

the joke

Television would have us believe that, in order to lead independent and successful lives, we must live in New York City. And while that works out well for privileged Carrie and—while she had an allowance—Hannah, it’s sometimes devastating for working class girls like Peggy and Betty. Television entices us to pawn our financial security for a dream job and a dream lifestyle. But in both television and in real life, it’s not a level playing field. There’s a price tag for Manhattan ambitions, and the growing wealth disparity in America has made those dreams even more elusive for women of the 99%.

Author John Updike once said, “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” While this makes for excellent comedy on TV, for ambitious women who struggle in real life, trying to fund a career in New York is truly no joke.

plot twists

Now that we don’t really have to live with our marriages, or enter them in the first place, the choice of whom, if anyone, to settle down with is not a great subject but a middling one—about sitcom-sized, it turns out. And the grown-up questions we ask ourselves when deciding whether to stay or go, to marry or not, don’t hinge quite as much on the idea of a right or wrong choice as on a rough sense of timing: when, if ever, is the right time to write the marriage into our lives? How much felicity can we plausibly expect from a partnership entered in our youth? Would we lose too many potentially interesting plot twists if we committed to one person right now? And if we end up disappointed by marriage, will it have been because we chose the wrong man, or simply that we chose him when we were only about a third of the way through our own personal comedies?

halfway points

(The last sentence needed copy editing, but I agree with the drift)—_and_lost/

Ms. co-founder Letty Cottin Pogrebin and her daughter Robin are presented as the archetype of semi-ungrateful younger women finding their mother’s feminism to be incomplete. Of the younger Pogrebin’s work-life conflict, narrator Meryl Streep intones, “Pogrebin quit her all-consuming television job. Instead, she worked shorter hours from home as a writer, relying more on her husband to support the family.” Somehow, this problem, which is given a lot of airtime considering that just critique of the limits of Friedan, is posited as the problem of too much feminism, as opposed to not enough of it informing policies and norms.

happy endings

“That Girl” remained popular throughout its run. During its time, did anybody ask, Why doesn’t she get married?

Oh, yeah. I wanted to quit after five years. I’d done it for five years and I felt I wasn’t a girl; I was more of a woman. I was approaching 30 and it was like: OK, I’m out of here. I just felt I couldn’t do the same thing anymore. So they said, if we’re going to end the show, let’s end it with a wedding. And I wouldn’t do that. I had talked on so many shows about her independence and for so many shows not getting married, and having a job and having her own life. “I want my own life” — I must have said that like 100 times. That the idea of suggesting to the girls who loved “That Girl,” to say that the only happy ending is a wedding, I just couldn’t do it.