TV Club

Week 8: Will Tyra End Up Dancing at the Landing Strip?

It’s funny, I’m less bothered by the “father knows best” (as Emily aptly put it) aspect of Eric and Tami’s marriage than either of you. Hanna, you say that the quickness with which Tami caved to Eric grated on you. You connected it to Tyra’s wishy-washiness. And I take the point, but I read this scene differently: The episode, I thought, was trying to draw a distinction between Tami’s compromise and Tyra’s. After all, a feminist marriage/partnership isn’t one in which the woman gets her own way all the time or even digs in her heels to make a point. It’s one where you learn to hear when your partner is giving you good advice—acting as a counterweight. And Tami was getting overexcited about something impractical. This is what’s so hard about relationships: learning when a “we” is more important than an “I.”

In this case, there was no way Eric could feel like part of the “we” if they bought the house, because, as he sees it, he has almost no job security. At the same time, though, he doesn’t handle it well at first, going rigid instead of just trying to talk to Tami. I actually like this scene, because Tami got what she really wanted: Eric’s attention, his willingness to enter the fantasy with her for a second, his ability to make her feel it is a partnership even when he can’t give her what she really wants. If she says she doesn’t “need” the house to make him feel better—well, that’s part of what keeps their spark alive, isn’t it? And he does it too, at least a bit.

Meanwhile, on the N.Y.-Texas front—the Riggins/Street trip to the Big Apple has a gimmicky feel, but the show pulls it off. The sequence about trying to buy a suit at Paul Stuart illustrates so much about how easy it is to feel like a pie-eyed outsider in moneyed New York. I remember feeling similarly as a teenager sometimes, even though I grew up in Brooklyn. My parents were teachers, and I went to few fancy stores until I was an adult; sometimes I still get nervous in them, and I love how the show brought that feeling to the fore.

“Why would you want to leave Texas?” Riggins asks Street in disbelief after Jason reveals his grand plan to head to the Big Apple. It’s a measure of the show’s success that the statement can be taken at face value (who would want to leave this place with its deep comradeship and warm football-filled nights?) and heard from an ironic distance (who wouldn’t want to leave this place, with its flat landscape and its sense of being isolated from larger opportunities?).

Tyra is in danger of falling subject to that isolation. I think the writers are going to save her in the end, but it would be Wire-like of them to sacrifice her to apathy and lassitude; if this were The Wire, we’d see her three seasons from now dancing at the Landing Strip, unable to excavate herself from the world where she grew up, despite her smarts and her desires.

Ugh, how annoying Joe McCoy is! He defines smarmy and pushy. Most Joes come in a less obvious form, but from now on I’m going to be playing a parlor game with my acquaintances and colleagues. Which ones are Erics, and which ones are Joes? Eric, after all, is the model of cooperation underneath all that brusqueness. Joe, by contrast, epitomizes self-serving deafness to the needs of others.

Meanwhile, anyone notice how tall all the women on this show are?