For what we hope are the concluding weeks of Jeff`s recovery, we have been hunting through Netflix to find something both of us might be prepared to watch. The formulaic, violent crime series (pl) just don`t do it for us. The other day we hit on The Kominsky Method, but early in episode one, in a flash of recognition, I realised that It was happening again. By It I mean the ubiquitous plot motif. As I have said before. It seems to be a fact universally acknowledged that a senior male character in any story must of necessity have a dead wife.
In an attempt to understand (and forgive) this ridiculous, recurring, offensive, (to me) phenomenon, I have been researching the series for clues. Alan Arkin, Michael Douglas, the male leads, and Chuck Lorre who apparently devised and wrote the series have themselves all been married several times. Perhaps to them there is genuinely little that can be explored dramatically in a really long-lasting relationship.
It`s true that the kind of emotional journeys taken by people who stick in a lasting relationship are not the same as the ones you experience when you set out on a new adventure. That is perhaps a human truth. But hey, there are two other human truths which I seem to be aware of, but male writers and actors almost never take into account.
First. In a general way, and for always, there is a tendency for men to marry women younger than themselves. ie a tendency for women to marry men older. Take a cohort of a few thousand long-connected couples, and more women will be left widowed than men. (Men`s life expectancy is slightly less than women`s as well but as I understand it the gap is not that significant.)
Michael Douglas`s character, Kominsky, doesn`t seem to have a dead wife – he just has a divorced one (or two? who knows?) so horrible that she/they don`t get screen time at all. At least not in series 1. Alan Arkin`s dead wife is the push behind the whole series, I think, and in gratitude the writer allows a few brief scenes for ghost-wife to appear.
And there we are. Two male leads, not young in any way shape or form, are freed by the conceptual framework of Hollywoodthink to perform to their hearts content. Of course we have smiled at the script. None of these people are amateurs. And yes there are new women on the horizon who are not ludicrously young, (though not terribly old either.)
I am writing the final story for my forthcoming collection, and am starting to think about a new play. Maybe. What should it be about?