There’s something going on with women on television these days. As the TV critics have noticed, shows about the lives of women have been proliferating over the past few years: the fall 2011 lineup featured several such debuting sitcoms (Whitney, New Girl, and Two Broke Girls), and that spring saw the airing of Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls, a sly, self-mocking portrait of twenty-something girlfriends muddling their way through life in New York City (clearly a challenge to Sex and the City, though Dunham’s vision is very much her own). The fall 2012 lineup added to the roster The Mindy Project (about a gynecologist with a barren romantic life), and this year’s mid-season listings gave us the premieres of Red Widow (featuring a housewife forced to carry out the mob work of her late husband) and The Carrie Diaries (a Sex and the City prequel). And though Carrie Bradshaw’s show itself, certainly one of the mothers of these more recent additions, went off the air almost a decade ago, various other women-centered shows (The Good Wife, Gossip Girl, and Desperate Housewives among them) are now well into their mature years. In a rather literal enactment of this general phenomenon, Two Broke Girls has recently displaced Two and a Half Men, taking over the time slot previously occupied by that show.
All of us associated with the New England Review mourn the loss of the writer A. J. Sherman, who died on April 6, 2013, just before the current issue was released in print. He was a person of extraordinary discernment, an accomplished author, and a generous friend.
From A. J. Sherman’s “When War Came,” an essay in the current issue:
For my parents, as for many New Yorkers, the countryside was invested with almost magical healing and protective powers: it was the only safe place for young children to spend the summer months, especially in the years when polio threatened all of us and seemed to lurk with greatest menace in crowded urban areas. Those perennial enemies, city dirt and city crowds, were deemed especially dangerous in hot weather; and the wholesome features of country life, including fresh milk and eggs, obligatory exposure to sun, and brisk walks, were expected to extend their benign blessings throughout the bleak winter months of cold and snow.
From Anne Raeff’s “To Make Good Again,” in the current issue:
Buch (Book) was my first word, according to my parents, though it probably was more like my first interesting word—third, at the earliest, after Mama and Papa. Whatever the first word, German was my first language, and I did not learn English until I went to preschool at the age of four. Still, I do not consider German my native tongue. English is the language I grew up in, went to school in; English is the language I write in.
From Benjamin Ehrlich’s translation of Café Chats by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, in the current issue:
Glory is nothing but delayed oblivion. . . .
. . . In the effort to defend ourselves against attacking microbes and perpetuate our existence, millions of our own cells (such as glandular, blood, and phagocytic corpuscles) must be destroyed continuously. Without noticing it, without even suspecting it, we are consuming our own bodies. . . . Thus, nothing seems more natural than death, given that we kill ourselves regularly. Yet, nevertheless . . .
Man, it has been said, is the favorite of Providence. It would be equally right to declare that he is the darling of microbes. Beginning at birth, his trajectory proves to be a mad dash across a battlefield, where missiles rain down from the sky. . . .