A few weeks ago I lamented that there aren't enough real depictions of average, everyday people and their lives, on TV: rant-of-the-day I was reminded of that after seeing Mike Leigh's, "Another Year". It's another in a long line of wonderful films of his, like "Secrets and Lives", "Vera Drake", "Happy Go Lucky" and others, that are brimming with authenticity. In this case, it's about a group of Londoners, mostly of a certain age. There is a wonderful, happy, loving couple, Tom and Jerrie, played wonderfully by Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen. You see their lives over the course of a year through the four seasons and the people who orbit it. They include Ken, an old friend of the couple's and mostly, Mary, played exquisitely by Lesley Manville. They are people over 40 who happen to be single and lonely and it manifests itself differently in each case. Tom and Jerrie are a warm, loving couple, who are well aware of their good fortune to have found each other and remained in love for 40 years. They are kind people, but so are their friends. As with all Mike Leigh films, it's not flashy and I'm sure to some, it's boring, but it is rooted in deep reality. The authenticity created by these situations and characters is unrivaled. I personally can't comprehend how Lesley would not to be nominated for an Oscar, as her performance is astounding. You know this person. Some of us are this person.
As a fan a good, honest TV , I would urge the networks to pursue Mike Leigh to develop a TV show, but somehow I don't see them pursuing a 67-year-old Brit. Their (and our) loss, if they don't. Plus who knows if he is even interested. But a voice like his would be wonderful on TV. I love MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD etc, but wouldn't it be refreshing to see just average, everyday people on TV? His writing reminds me of the shows of Herskovitz/Zwick.
Even if they won't pursue Mike Leigh, They should go after Derek Cianfrance. He is the first time, writer/director of BLUE VALENTINE. This is the film that stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The movie is about the dissolution of a marriage and like ANOTHER YEAR, it feels so real. There are no bad guys. Relationships fall apart all the time. Real life isn't black and white, it's grey. This movie displays that with heartbreaking and authentic writing and in the incredible performances.
I alluded it to it before, but I really do wish Marshall Herskovits and Edward Zwick would come back to TV and develop a new show. THIRTYSOMETHING, ONCE AND AGAIN, MY SO CALLED LIFE, RELATIVITY. Yes, these were all ratings challenged shows. That probably has a lot to do with the rawness of them. I have heard many times, people want to escape when they come home from work, they don't want to be confronted with the reality of their own lives, like these shows do. Well that's true for some, but many of us want to see ourselves reflected on TV. It's worth noting that THIRTYSOMETHING ran for 4 years and was the first real "demo hit" and ONCE AND AGAIN ran for three years. Admittedly, I just miss Herskovitz/Zwick's voices on my TV every week. A wish for 2011 is that they miss sharing their voices and a network wants to showcase them.
Whether it's Mike Leigh, Derek Cianfrance or Marshall Herskovitz/Edward Zwick, or some new voice I don't even know of yet, my wish for 2011 is that we start to see real, understated, average people represented on TV, with all our human frailties, insecurities, and blandness on full display.