Thursday, February 16, 2017

recent netflix viewing: rita [2012 -]

when i started this blog way back in the mid part of the last decade i was a hardcore DVD collector.  it was a marvelous time, really.  lots of indie DVD companies were lovingly restoring beautiful, crazy, demented horror and exploitation flicks that made this movie lover's heart a'skipping and a'beating.  but now we live in a digital age of broadband internet, mobile devices and streaming services like netflix.  i am a convert to these streaming services and i love making discoveries like the above named TV show from denmark.

the eponymous hero of this show is a school teacher, played by mille dinesen, living in copenhagen who is in her early 40s with three grown children.  she is popular among her students.  she is preternaturally gifted with children but with adults she is a serious misfit.  rita is a loving mother, but there is something within her psyche, or past, or something, that keeps her from growing up.

and thus therein lies the magic of this TV show.  rita is not a wholly likable character.  she is deeply flawed, irritating even on the viewer's nerves.  indeed rita is like people we actually know and see in the mirror.  rita's children are decent, loving people in their own right.  but they also have flaws, again, like us.  rita's coworker's are again like the people we work with, sometimes fun, sometimes not.

still, there is much love and lovingness in this show.  rita is a compelling character.  i've binge-watched the first season this week and i'm already two shows into the second season.  oh, and it is wonderful to see how life is lived in other parts of the world.  for example, one episode deals with pregnancy.  rita contemplates keeping the baby.  it wasn't a planned pregnancy -- rita is pretty randy -- but she already has children and her oldest son is about to become a father.  in the end she decides to terminate the pregnancy because, as she tells the man who got her pregnant, 'it is now the younger generation's turn' in having children.  the next scene rita takes medication to terminate the pregnancy.  never would you see that scene, or hear that dialogue, in a u.s. TV show, at least not without a lot of horrible mental anguish and agony suffered by the woman.

another thing, streaming services allow us, the viewers, to see international TV shows and cinema.  despite my country's hard turn to the right, and its protectionist rhetoric, i prefer to live in what the poet pierre joris calls 'betweenness' which is the liminal area of translation, of cultures, of languages, of peoples, for when we look at our planet in the cosmic perspective, our earth is, in the phrase of carl sagan, a 'pale blue dot', and from that perspective we really are a single species.  our current rhetoric notwithstanding we do live in the age of globalization.

the beauty of streaming TV and movies is that we can see, hear, feel even, what it means to be human in other cultures, countries and languages.  rita's culture is not so different from mine.  even so, i understand denmark ranks as one of the happiest countries on earth.  but even so human nature is complicated and stupid and goofy.  this TV show is proof that being alive and human is a traumatic series of events no matter where, or who, you are.  i have fallen in love with rita and her children. 


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