Conlan Carter is a playwright and dramaturg living in New York City.
Junior Contributor II
A sea-storm onstage? Why Shakespeare's last play is his most magical.
Conlan Carter Jul 22, 2014
Wonderful article. Always glad to see more of the classic American dramas.
I would contest only one thing about the article: the point made about society’s indoctrination of false ideals and its unrealistically high expectations for the Lomans. I think what Miller is trying to show is that the modern world (esp. at the time of the play’s conception) continually changes its ideals and structure, regardless of the efforts of one man. The tragedy of the scene with the “recording machine” is not specifically capitalism’s emphasis on machine over man (it’s more than that); it is Willie’s inability to adapt to the modern world.
Yes, Willie’s ideals are the product of society, but these ideals were not false when Willie initially adopted them. Over time, society shifted, and its ideals shifted with it. Willie refused to change, and thus he cannot exist peacefully in the changed world.
An enlightening article. I am a huge The Office fan, myself, and I have seen my fair share of Modern Family and Parks and Recreation sporadically. I definitely agree with you that the man focus of this particular medium is viewer inclusion in the world of the show. We are meant to feel like these people could be our coworkers, neighbors, etc. The overall effect is that our expectations are lowered to the surprises that come when these characters get themselves into extremely comedic situations. I have never watched an Office episode that has not made me laugh out loud, no matter how many times I have seen it previously.
As a side note, I think this effect translates well to other forms of empathy for the show. I was a huge fan of the Jim and Pam romance, and my concern for their relationship kept me watching the show during the final season.
I definitely agree with you about Daya as the “child.” Especially in season one, she seems have a child-like agency to all of her major actions in the plot; it is all motivated by a need to be noticed. Of course, her background lends some empathy to this (she basically had to skip being a child to raise her siblings), and I find myself always rooting for her.
Admittedly, I am only a few episodes into the new season, but I am enjoying the sub-plot following Red. It is interesting to think of her as a queen dethroned (sorry, spoilers incoming) after she lost her Head Chef position. I have a feeling that she will try to find her way back on top soon enough.
An interesting look at the identity of a serial killer and mental illness, in general. It is fascinating to note that the extreme psychosis that pushes these characters to kill can be moralized into a desire to be something that they are not. It seems quite natural, and I think that’s where viewers find empathy (and, certainly, fear) for these characters. I said “mental illness, in general” earlier because mental illness can exist in all classes – from Buffalo Bill to Patrick Bateman.