tv series

TV series ‘I Love Dick’ neatly turns mansplaining on its head

The Amazon original series explores a woman’s obsession with an art curator, but ends up being about her rather than him.

When author Chris Kraus’s memoir/auto-fiction I Love Dick was first published 20 years ago, it went mostly unnoticed. Over the last decade, the book has earned a reputation as a feminist cult classic, and now has its very own TV show

Created by Transparent’s Jill Soloway, I Love Dick tells the story of Chris (Kathryne Hahn), an indie filmmaker who accompanies her historian husband Sylvere (Griffin Dunne) to Marfa in Texas where he is a fellow at an Art Institute, run by the titular Dick (Kevin Bacon), a successful and influential culture figure. When Chris’s movie is disqualified from a film festival, she stays back in Marfa and becomes obsessed with Dick Jarrett, a horse-riding, modern Marlboro man. Sylvere and Chris invite him over for dinner, where he flaunts his male privilege and extreme chauvinism, questioning whether Chris’s film was any good in the first place. Right in the first episode, the show sets the context for what usually happens – a woman is looked at but is not a part of the narrative. This is where I Love Dick is different. The Amazon Original series is available for viewing on Amazon Prime Video.

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I Love Dick.

What follows is a series of wild letters to Dick, helping Chris pronounce and come to terms with her desire and identity as a woman and an artist. These letters give her and Sylvere a secret obsession that helps them rediscover each other sexually.

Once Chris drives into the wide, empty, and categorically masculine Marfa, bringing her female energy into the town known for horse ranches and oil rigs, she sets off multiple narratives.

We meet Devon (Roberta Collindrez, the breakout star of the series) who works at the institute and steals Chris’s letters to Dick as inspiration for a play she is writing. A Mexican-American whose family always lived on Dick’s land, Devon grew up wanting to be like Dick. Paula (Lily Mojekwu), the museum curator, is constantly frustrated by Dick’s refusal to exhibit work by female artists. Toby (India Menuez), another fellow at the institute, is a conceptual artist working on a project about hardcore pornography who wants to surpass Dick as an artist.

The most innovative episode of the series, A Short History of Weird Girls, gives these women the opportunity to tell their individual stories, all talking about how they fell into the orbit of this man who represents the malecentric, unrelenting and discriminating art world.

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Kevin Bacon talks about I Love Dick.

These women aren’t being seen through the eyes of a man. They define how the story goes for them. Though she may be bumbling, falling or making a fool of herself, Chris is in control of her story. Kathryne Hahn perfectly embodies Chris’s frenetic energy, and physical clumsiness. Though she is nervous, confused, angry or scared, the show is never apologetic for turning on the female gaze.

As Dick, Kevin Bacon is objectified, like women have been objectified for as long as the movie business has existed. Soloway is running a female lens through what is usually a decidedly male perspective. The show’s title is talking about a woman’s obsession with him, but the series isn’t about him. It is about her.

Jill Soloway ended her 2016 Primetime Emmy acceptance speech with three crucial words: “Topple the patriarchy.” With I Love Dick’s sardonic comedy, Jill Soloway makes another, mostly successful attempt to do so.

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I Love Dick.
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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.