Living the Dream is a strange episode title for it seems most of the characters are either living or remembering their most fearsome nightmares.
Perry’s Fear of Losing Celeste (Perry & Celeste)
It has come to a point where enough is enough. Celeste can’t continue this back and forth between Perry being aggressive with her, them having sex, and things being ideal again. It’s torture. So, as they seemingly have done before, they go to couples therapy. Something, you can tell, despite advocating for it, Celeste isn’t the most comfortable with. After all, she knows that while she is trying to heal the relationship, she is dealing with a man who has anger issues. So while it would be nice for her to be able to be open about the abuse, both mental and physical, that could lead to her being harmed when they are in private.
Luckily, Perry is upfront about what he has done and why he has done it. For, as we have seen, being that Perry is often gone for days or a week at a time, Celeste has to make household decisions. Also, she gets more time with all the boys and Perry feels he isn’t considered as part of the picture. To summarize, he feels she may be outgrowing him and has begun adjusting to him not being there. Due to that, his insecurities have been hunting for reasons why she may not love him. Of which, she reminds him, she left her family, her friends, career and her former home for him. She basically gave him everything but a leash.
One of the things I love about this show is just as much as you have to praise the fact it is showing women in their 40s and 50s as desirable and sexual beings, the men are different too. Perry, for example, is a man married to a older woman and in that therapy session, I feel he is expressing the fears and insecurities we rarely hear men speak – especially in a setting like therapy. Usually, it is the woman who fears their husband leaving them and feeling that, for various reasons, they are just not enough. So him seeming to perhaps genuinely care, and not just be going through the motions, is wonderfully awkward. For, on top of being a man saying all this, it isn’t like Skarsgård is some awkward looking dude. He looks like a norse god.
That aside, you do have to wonder if Celeste is happy at all? She passed the bar, was an accomplished lawyer, but resigned to become a housewife. A housewife whose time is spent listening to the petty fights of Madeline all day, every day. Well, until her kids and husband come home.
Madeline vs. The World: (Renata and Madeline)
With Madeline fighting on Jane’s behalf, even denying a peace deal on her behalf [note] One in which Ziggy would be invited to Amabelle’s party and a Disney trip would have been paid for and planned [/note], Madeline makes things not just bad for Ziggy and Jane, but also herself. For, with the wealth Renata has, and influence, Madeline has effectively jeopardized her Avenue Q production.
But, it isn’t just the battle with Renata that Madeline is losing. Her battle against Nathan is becoming a loss as well. Abigail conveys that she feels uncomfortable in Madeline’s home. Mostly because, she feels that with women of the community running Google, Yahoo, and what have you, Madeline wants Abigail to be like that. Especially because she didn’t, couldn’t, or never thought of, being on that level. [note] Though I wouldn’t be surprised if the way Ed looks at her wasn’t also an issue [/note]. So, she decides, for peace of mind and so maybe her grades could rebound, to live with Nathan.
Though said before, I’ll repeat it over and over, I love how this show gives actresses of all ages, not just Woodley’s, the opportunity to be sexy, strong, vulnerable, and just people – period. Renata is perhaps the best example since she is a beast at work, but is in what seems like the most healthy relationship on the show. Gordon is her equal. She doesn’t have this “I’m more rich or attractive” thing to hold over his head. So it makes it so when she decides to let her guard down all the more meaningful for she, a powerful woman in business, is willing to give him the power to hurt her. Yet, because of the love she has for and with him, she doesn’t believe he would. And I don’t say this to make it seem her character is better than the rest of the women, but I am glad these moms include varied relationship power structures to explore.
Switching to Madeline, with what Abigail said, I wonder why she didn’t pursue this corporate path? Based on her noting struggling early in her marriage to Nathan’s, it seems she wasn’t born wealthy. However, I don’t want to say she is just looking to live vicariously through Abigail. I feel there is something missing in terms of her story, her dreams deferred, and it is beyond what she is doing with Avenue Q. Avenue Q seems to be something just to do with her day. There must be more here.
Jane’s Past Revealed: (Jane & Madeline)
Ziggy was born of rape. Some guy Jane thought was attractive, who went by “Saxon Banks,” she willingly was going to sleep with but then things got too aggressive and he wouldn’t stop. So with Ziggy asking about his dad and bringing up all these bad memories, Jane shuts it down and tells the story, for the first time, to Madeline. Of which Madeline absorbs and tries to console Jane. However, after she leaves Jane’s house, she breaks down.
I think at this point, Madeline is realizing Jane isn’t some simple charity case. Jane isn’t some wallflower she can take under her wing and watch bloom. Jane has issues, serious issues that because Madeline has grown close to her, they can’t just be rubbed off. So considering how Madeline is using Jane as a weapon against Renata, maybe part of the breakdown came from her feeling guilty for adding more problems to Jane’s life?
Switching to the topic of Jane… Damn. Woodley, to me, is definitely reminding us of how actors can only do as well as the scripts and direction they are given. In the Divergent series, Woodley’s acting is hit or miss. Heck, taking it back to The Secret Life of the American Teenager, you may question how did that actress become this one? But, I think it is clear: give this young woman a character who is complicated and with layers, and she’ll excel. However, if you expect her to make some paper thin character into someone with depth and some form of nuance, you got the wrong person.
With that said, I wonder with that secret revealed, who is Ziggy’s father, and who is the girl in the blue dress, what triggered her leaving home and that nightmare of someone breaking in?