Sunday, March 18, 2012

Don't hate Vanessa

If you don’t watch the web series Out With Dad, you might find this post a bit difficult to follow.  But even if you choose not to watch the series, I hope you’ll stay to the end, because I think there’s a universal quality to my mental meanderings this week.

I noticed looking at comments online concerning episodes of Out With Dad that many viewers make negative remarks about Vanessa.  The comments concern how mean Vanessa has been at times towards Rose and how it would be better for Rose to just forgot about Vanessa and moved on to pursue another girl (Ah, if only our hearts worked in such a way…). While I do think there’s cause to be upset at Vanessa, I don’t think she’s a character that should really be hated.  I think she’s a character for which you should feel sorry, or pity.  To explain my thoughts I think first we need to compare Vanessa and Rose.

Rose struggles a lot with life and the hand she has been dealt. It isn’t easy being young, being raised by your widowed Dad, being shy, being different from those you see around you, and being attracted to a person who refuses to love you back.  Though the thrust of the series involves Rose’s sexuality, this is just one of her challenges.  But as I watch Rose, I have no doubt that, despite it all, she will-somehow- manage to end up okay.  Maybe everything won’t work out as she hopes, but in the end, she’ll be all right.  My belief of this is because she has, via just two people, an awesome support system.  Her father and her best friend Kenny give Rose the unconditional love and support that she needs.  They aren’t perfect, but they will always be there for her.
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Vanessa, with her much larger family unit, does not have this kind of support.  Her father is weak, her mother is controlling, and her younger brother is too young to understand her plight.  The two people that could understand her situation the most, Rose and Vanessa’s older brother, are forbidden to be near her.  Vanessa is the type of young person that, lacking a good support structure, all too often ends up doing something self-destructive as a way to deal with problems.

I don’t think writer/director Jason Leaver will do anything too extreme with Vanessa’s character.  But we do see this in real life all too often.  Especially with young people and many times involving teens who are dealing with their own sexuality.  Reflecting on this makes me want to make the world better.  I don’t have an answer that will suddenly solve everyone’s problems, but I do think one thing we should all think about is just being nicer to each other.  Supporting people and being understanding of people who are different from us can go a long way.  Reach out a hand to someone who might need a little support.  And stand by those who do go out of their way to help others.
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And finally, I hope everything works out for Rose and Vanessa.  Just like I want everything to work out well for everyone in the real world, too.  And allow me one minor postscript: If Rose and Vanessa don’t end up together, at least I feel confident Rose will find happiness someday.  After all, how many of us marry the person we were in love with when we were fifteen?

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