Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Top of the Lake- Season 2: A Few Thoughts

I just watched the second season of Top of the Lake and loved it.

One review I found online said that Jane Campion's 'signposting of feminist issues' was 'heavy-handed'. I found it to be no such thing. If one tv series is able to centre the bodies of women and their experiences it's but a drop in the ocean of paeans to the resilience and wonder of the male form.

Things I did find to be true about Top of the Lake.

1. Elizabeth Moss is spectacular. And her chemistry with Gwendolyn Christie is off the charts.  Christie's character was written with a great deal of care. I suppose it must ever be a subject of discussion how large her body is, and this show dealt with that extremely well.

2. On the subject of motherhood- in a show with several mothers talking about motherhood, and grappling with it, it is the fathers that do a stellar job, and keep the house together. Pyke seemed something of a fantasy to me. Look I didn't even look up the actor's name, because this character is a unicorn. We all want him. Or someone like him. The coroner, too, to a lesser degree: the safe dad figure, who offers comfort and snacks. In this show it is the men who always bring the food.

3. Puss. For anyone who has been with an older man, this relationship is the thing your mother agonized about. The lure of an older individual who wields authority is something I imagine many of us have felt, and Campion takes it to its brutal ugly extreme in the relationship between Mary and Puss.

4. This show has some great action scenes. There's one in the middle, with Moss fighting, where I found myself roaring alongside her. It is a violent show, but most of the physical violence remains off screen.

5. Talking about race and inequality appears to be the reserve of the villains, or the misguided on the show. I'm still thinking this through. The obviously horrendous power dynamic between S. Asian women, and their white male and female Australian exploiters wasn't picked apart with as much care as the relationships between parents and children, and male and female sexual partners. In a show with a lot of carefully treated women the brown women were still ciphers for white desire. Given that Campion was able to do so very much more with her women than most, it would have been nice to see her do as well by the brown folk in her writing as well.