Tag Archives: Atlantic

Life is not, in fact, like a sitcom (or, What I learned from Carolyn Hax)

I’m a little late to this one, but I finally read “Marry Him!” — a buzz-fishing article in last month’s Atlantic that ostensibly makes the case for settling for a spouse instead of holding out for Mr. Right. Here’s the gist:

Of course, we’d be loath to admit it in this day and age, but ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won’t tell you it’s a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she’ll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child).

[snip]

My advice is this: Settle!

What stands out from the article isn’t the fact that author Lori Gottlieb herself hasn’t settled (she’s a 40-something who, along with a friend, decided to have a baby with donor sperm “in fits of self-empowerment” — surely the best reason to have a baby). Or her attempt at ironically defusing the shock and vitriol she just knew her taboo-busting article would provoke (“Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about.”) Or her repeated undermining of her case for settling.

No, the most notable aspect of the story is that Gottlieb is dispensing romantic advice even though she seems to be the kind of person who believes that life is like a romantic comedy. Or rather, that romantic comedies are true to life, and that adults should draw their lessons about life and love from TV and the movies.

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The irrelevancy of the nightly news

Caitlin Flanagan has a nice essay in the latest Atlantic about Katie Couric, the Today Show, and Couric’s failure as the CBS Evening News anchor. Flanagan does a good job of explaining why the fluffy-unwatchable morning shows actually mean a lot to a lot of people, and why Couric was so perfect for that role (the piece is ostensibly a review of a part-hit-job Couric biography). But the best part is Flanagan’s tidy put-down of the evening news:

That Katie has bombed at CBS is a testament, not to the existence of a glass ceiling, but to the fact that real revolutions are so thoroughgoing that they don’t just provide a new answer, they change the very questions being asked. … No woman needs to storm the Bastille of nightly news, because the form has become irrelevant: Oprah has immeasurably more cultural, commercial, and political clout than Charles Gibson and Brian Williams, and no young person is ever going to make appointment TV out of a sober-minded 6:30 wrap-up of stories he or she already read online in the afternoon.

That CBS and Couric didn’t realize this — and that newspapers have wasted so much ink (also see: Dan Rather’s fall from grace, Tom Brokaw’s retirement, etc.) discussing an irrelevant institution that few under age, say 58, care about — is as devastating an indictment of the news media as any stock-price or circulation drop.