Being sick is sometimes the best opportunity to catch up on shows that I normally can’t sneak into my schedule. Felled last week by a stomach bug, I draped myself like a limp noodle on my bed and binge-watched the Netflix series “Modern Love.”
Because it came out in 2019, I’m already behind any of the buzz that it may have pulled along during its original airing, which mostly means that I can’t read, and comment on, any recent tweets or posts that might share in my experience watching it.
For example, there’s an episode on an incredibly naive woman attempting to capture the actual fatherly affection of a higher-up at work — asking him to read her a bedtime story — when he thinks that their story will work out much differently that evening. Yikes. Who else was sharing my horror then? Just me, mentally retching alone in my bed.
Another episode, somewhat strange in a similar way, had two married men looking to adopt. Thwarted in the traditional methods, they make an alliance with a pregnant woman who is a vagabond with a deep need to be free on the road. She agrees to give her baby to the couple and says she’ll check back in before she’s due to deliver the package in a few months.
When she moves in with them eight weeks before the birth, shenanigans naturally occur. One bit of dialogue intrigued me. When she pitches a literal tent in their immaculate living room and brings home a hookup from the streets, one of the dads-to-be loses his mind.
I’m paraphrasing the quotes, but the gist is this: “You claim you’re interested in other people, but there is no evidence in your life whatsoever of you caring about anyone but yourself,” she yelled at him. “You’re not interested in your community. You just like the idea of it.”
Girl: You’ve only seen the tip of that iceberg. Your fictional baby is set to be a pandemic toddler.
At the end of the episode, the dad who threw the fit earlier gives his adopted daughter a bedtime tale: “We’re capitalists. We wouldn’t survive a second in the wild because there’s no restaurants or Whole Foods, or therapists, or hospitals for when you get sick, or books for you to read or movies for you to watch.”
Bleak, but I’m not sure he’s wrong.
There’s been a continual push against doing things that inconvenience us as Americans. But especially during the pandemic, it feels like it’s not a bug of our American character, but a feature.
It doesn’t seem like it was always like this. Our grandparents and great-grandparents accepted rations. We all took our shoes off when flying. But somewhere along the line, we stopped realizing we’re in the same sandbox, a sandbox where, when one of our own’s erratic behavior harms the others, it will be up to us in the group to stop them. Or else someone else — say another country —-might put us in a timeout, which doesn’t seem to speak well to our collective maturity.
When an individualistic society needs to conquer problems that can only be solved via collective effort, time is wasted trying to appease all factions. We just need to say that if our values are truly worthy, they must cover everyone equally, for the greater good. But, as with the hallowed phrase that all men are created equal, we know that there is historical precedent that an implied asterisk leaves room for some to strip the rights away from others.
Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She is also the Executive Director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and can be contacted at [email protected] To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.