Welcome to The Dais

Dais Johnston (he/they/she) is a 21 year old senior theatre major at Agnes Scott College. When they aren’t getting in spirited conversations with their professors in class or tweeting, they direct and act in plays and web series and write a lot.

Like, a lot. Once they got an idea for a one act play at 1:00 am and then wrote all 30 pages of it before 7:30. You can read that (very rough draft) here.

Raised extremely Catholic, they survived on a restricted television diet of TV Land reruns and I Love Lucy box sets, so now they are in college, they spend as much time as possible watching whatever they can get their hands on, and writing down all their thoughts. Their dream is to write about television for a website like Vulture, or any pop culture site. They love culture in general.

Due to their education, Dais is extremely skilled in social media and building an audience, as they have around a thousand twitter followers. They also have a wide breadth of theatre knowledge, with a extremely indepth knowledge of Shakespeare and a passion for adaptation theory. They love telling stories and writing plays and scripts, and love acting and directing those stories even more.

Dais has been published on BUST.com and has contributed to Time.com and Autostraddle. Their published work and the highlights from their other humor writing can be found under “Best of Dais.

Aside from their constant work trying to graduate, they also run a weekly newsletter about what brings people joy entitled Unapologetically Enthusiastic, and a fashion blog entitled Thanks, it Has Pockets! When they want to write something that doesn’t fit on either site, they write humor articles about TV and Film on their Medium blog.

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Earnest 101

Earnest 101 is a twelve episode webseries I co-wrote with Jules Pigott and filmed within four days in New York City. It is a queer adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and I played the lead role of Jack Worthing, a character who is genderfluid, just like me. That representation was important to Jules and me, and we were very satisfied with the result.

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Nanette and Repertoire: The Disarming Power of Stand Up Comedy

I don’t know much about media criticism. I try to read up, to study my heroes’ works on Vulture or Buzzfeed. I watch video essays. I’m learning. But sometimes, you watch something that grips you from the core and yanks you back and all you can think is I need to write about this I need to share this. Recently, these sorts of works have more or less been restricted to “prestige tv”: your Westworlds, your Breaking Bads. But for me, only one genre has the power to truly kick me in the back of the kneecaps anymore: stand up comedy. And just in the last few months, two works of stand up comedy have not only grabbed me, they’ve saved my life: James Acaster’s Repertoire and Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette.

James Acaster is a British comedian specializing in “low-key whimsy,” best known for his jokes about cabbages and ready to eat apricots. I’ve been following his career for about five years now, starting with a set on Russell Howard’s Good News in 2013 where his name was misspelled behind him the entire set.

His award winning series of four comedy specials, Repertoire, went live on Netflix this spring. I watched all four hours once or twice daily for a good two weeks. I kept finding more to get out of it. Acaster mixes normal stand up with non-linear storytelling and unreliable narrators. He begins talking about how he is actually an undercover cop named Pat Springleaf undercover as a stand up comedian named James Acaster, and how his wife left him because he got too caught up in the case. In the next episode, he doesn’t mention any of this, instead focusing on his stint in jury duty and his complex relationship with religion, ending with a five minute long shot of him eating an orange by candlelight. The third episode is centered around “a fresh start” and how a honey-based scam gone wrong has forced him into witness protection. The fourth episode, possibly the most heartbreaking, includes the story of how he became an undercover cop through witness protection and how he met his wife through a game of flirty Twister, and how much he loves her and can’t see the relationship going wrong anytime soon.

It sounds complicated, and it is, but Acaster acknowledges it. In the very first hour, he cracks a joke about how he knows an undercover cop pretending to be a stand up comedian is weird, but “not as weird as a stand up comedian pretending to be an undercover cop! Imagine that LOSER!” The entire narrative is built on a system of deflection and projection, ultimately ending with a story of a duck talking to a decoy about how meaningful his life is, how fascinating higher powers are, in fact, he’s written a series of one-man shows about it. That’s what tips the stories from funny to heartbreaking: that moment you realize “hang on, I think he’s actually talking about himself here” peppered between conventional jokes about Dr. Pepper and secret santas.

The nonlinear storytelling breaks the contract every stand up comedian makes with their audience, the sort of intimacy only one person on a stage can muster. You have to trust them to entertain you, you put your sensibility into their hands. It’s a dangerous thing, laughter: it makes you so vulnerable, you take your guard down in order to laugh but its so easy for a performer to take advantage and punch you in the gut instead.

Jokes have two parts: set ups, and punchlines.

Is the ultimate punchline the lack of one altogether?

Hannah Gadsby is another comedian I have heard so much about. Her work on (possibly the greatest tv comedy of our generation) Please Like Me is phenomenal, and helped me overcome my struggle with self-harm. Her miniseries Hannah Gadsby: Arts Clown, a four part art history lecture for the radio made me feel so smart, though I’m unsure how well radio works as a medium for art lectures. Like RepertoireNanette made waves at the Edinburgh Fringe, the festival for experimental one person theatre.

Please Like Me is on Hulu, it’s everything you could want in a gay comedy about mental illness

Nanette uses tension the way Repertoire uses nonlinear storytelling. It starts slow, with jokes that make you wonder Wait can I laugh? and builds until Gadsby reaches the crux of her argument: comedy is about tension. But there’s enough tension in the day-to-day existence of a “gender not normal” lesbian that building artificial tension is a futile practice.

I have to come clean here: I can’t watch Hannah speak on these topics without relating to her personally. She was raised in the extremely homophobic society of late 20th century Tasmania, I was raised in the one-two punch of homophobic societies: the military and the Catholic Church. She’s a lesbian who finds it hard to fit in “with her people.” I’m a genderfluid lesbian-ish person who is dating both a polygender person and a trans man. I don’t know what to call myself. I don’t know where I fit. So when I hear her say:

“I’ve built a career out of self-deprecating humor… and I don’t want to do that anymore. Because do you understand what self deprecation means to someone who already exists within the margins? It’s not humility. It’s humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak. In order to seek permission to speak. And I simply will not do that anymore. Not to myself, and not to anyone who identifies with me.”

Yeah… that hits hard.

Hannah speaks at length about internalized homophobia. There’s no way to effectively explain how it feels to hate the person you are, to hate the person other people think you made yourself into. With Hannah, she sealed off her shame and funneled it into jokes. With me, well, I don’t know. I’m still trying in vain to seal it all in, but in Icarian irony the closer I get to true self acceptance the more that seal melts and leaks and ruins it all again.

But this is a Very Serious Media Criticism Piece.

One of the weirdest similarities between Repertoire and Nanette is the recurring thread of color symbolism. Hannah makes the case for blue to stop being called a masculine color while wearing a blue shirt and blazer, in front of a blue background, while Repertoire exists in a monotone world of olives, mustards, and burgundys through backdrops and various items of corduroy clothing worn by James, making it feel like a living breathing Wes Anderson shot. Until, of course the final episode, Recap, which incorporates all three colors.

It’s this element that made me stop looking at these works as stand-up comedy and start looking at them through the lens of theatre. I’m 3/4 of the way through a theatre degree, so with my 3/4 of a qualification, I know how to spot when effort is put into the subconscious messages of visuals. There’s more to Repertoire than starting the story at the end and looping around. There’s more to Nanette than deconstructing comedy. Both of these works are about connection. About humanity. When James projects his issues onto an audience member or sings a long winded football chant to one specific man in the front row, he’s sharing his story with people around him. When Hannah corrects her storytelling about a encounter with a violent man, she’s not admitted defeat in comedy. She’s sharing her truth for those in similar circumstances.

That’s a lot of theatre theory to throw onto stand up. Stand up is, by and large, a lowbrow medium. There’s no “Standup History” course at my small women’s college, because if there were I would have taken it already and all my classmates would hate me because of my “enthusiasm.” Laughter is cheap. Art is expensive. Art is honest. Standup is deceptive.

As Gadsby says, in comedy, you can’t end stories where you want to, because you have to end on a laugh. In fact, you don’t have to tell true stories at all. Where Nanette slowly reveals that a story that is told honestly isn’t necessarily the whole picture, Repertoire slowly reveals the nugget of truth in a scenario that is outrageously absurd. Both take the audience by surprise, breaking the contract formed between performer and audience.

Nanette’s preoccupation with identity is reflected mainly through art history, because that’s what Hannah Gadsby got her undergrad degree in. She speaks on the virgin/whore binary, the responsibility of artists to “suffer,” especially in terms of mental illness, and her grudge against Pablo Picasso. Of course, this is not about art. Hannah just uses it because that’s what she knows, just like how I compare plot points in The Bachelorette to David Mamet plays: we’re all slaves to our major.

Every single issue she finds with art is an issue the world finds in her. The pressure on women to become representations of their sexuality, the pressure on mentally ill people to either be normal or make a commodity of their illness, and the toxic masculinity of the entitled man.

When Hannah reveals that her lighthearted story about a man who almost beat her up actually ended with her being beat up, that’s her way of making the audience feel the shame she feels every time she told that joke. They laughed originally, but now, faced with the true reality, they realize that it was her own homophobia that kept her from telling the truth. She refuses to fulfill the job of the comedian to diffuse the tension.

Hannah Gadsby breaks a commandment of comedy: she is angry onstage and she refuses to make herself the butt of the joke or make light of the situation.

She says, to a fully hushed Sydney Opera House, that it would have been more humane to have been killed than to suffer what she suffered in her lifetime.

Her audience is fully disarmed. The intimacy of solo theatre becomes less of a jester show and more of an investigation. And why does she alienate her audience? Because she feels alienated every single day of her life and she’s not sacrificing herself for their humor anymore.

But ultimately, Nanette is for the “normals.” For those who carry that alienation, that shame within us every day, doubling it down is an experience best done once or twice. When I start fantasizing about slicing my breasts off or stabbing myself in my ovary, I don’t want to hear about how I would be better off dead. I reach for the low key whimsy of Repertoire. And that’s okay. It was so important for me to hear Hannah’s story, but it’s not something I want to relive over and over. But what I do want is for everyone in my life to live it. Just for an uncomfortable hour, understand what it feels like to slowly feel the tension marginalized people feel every day.

I don’t know how I’m going to unlearn my self hate. I don’t have the confidence for stand up comedy. I don’t have the skills for media criticism, as I just found out. But I refuse to let others around me put societal pressure on me without empathizing with me. And that’s why I owe my life to Hannah Gadsby. But I also owe it to James Acaster, because until I figure something out, I can always just escape into the ruddy-colored world of Repertoire.

People like me reserve the right to have our pain represented. But we also reserve the right to escape if we need it.

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An Actually Good Gift Guide For College Students

I love gift guides, I really do, but boy do they leave something to be desired in the college age range. Even on Goop it’s like “here’s some trendy headphones for teenagers, bish bash bosh.” We don’t need trendy headphones. We need headphones that won’t break and earbuds that won’t lose the little ear condom part. We need wireless headphones because the tech world hates 3.5mm jacks, and wireless headphones with a battery that will last from my first class until rehearsal ends at 9.

No, actually, let’s address this. Every gift guide for teenagers lists headphones as their first item. We have headphones! We need headphones in our day to day lives! When we need headphones we don’t say “Oh well, maybe Santa will bring me some.” We buy new headphones!!! How else are we supposed to not bother our sleeping roommates while we listen to the Far Cry 5 soundtrack again??? How else are we supposed to signal to freshman we see on our way to class that no, we don’t want to talk? Please do not buy your college student headphones unless they specifically say “I care about the quality of audio I receive and would appreciate the investment in an expensive piece of equipment.”

See also: wireless speakers.

So I present to you: A Gift Guide For College Students, By A College Student. All of these gifts are readily available and under $100, because for some reason the internet wants us to think we all should be dropping $250 on kids you’re just going to have to buy graduation gifts for eventually.

1. A Candle Warmer

Give your best college acquaintance the gift of getting RAs off your back. Dorm living sucks no matter which way you cut it, but one thing that always really bothered me was that no open flames are allowed. At least, not in most old dorms like mine. Enter this candle warmer, found in the clearance rack at target. I stuck a candle under it, and not only does the candle melt, it doesn’t melt down as quickly so it lasts longer. Consider buying them a few fun scented candles to go with it like The Boyfriend Candle or wax melts scented like literary figures (just stick the melts in a jar under the lamp)!

A Weighted Blanket

Look, you can’t give a college student the gift of fixing the incredibly anxiety-making environment of college education, but you can get them something to help them forget it. Weighted blankets make it hard to get out of bed but we’re college students! Getting out of bed is the hardest part of our day regardless! Also, if you are someone who likes to entertain bed guests, I see no cooler pickup line than “This blanket will make you feel calm it’s on my bed go ahead and try it ouuuuut.”
Always ask for clear confident and enthusiastic consent, friends!

Food. Delivery. Gift. Cards.

I know, I know, they’re not “personal” or whatever, but let me tell you: if someone bought me a doordash gift card, I would think about how great they are through every single greasy bite of Wendy’s Swawesome Fries. The gift of delivery is the gift of Treat Yo Self, and the gift of Treat Yo Self is what we all deserve.

A Bed Tray

Look, I’ll be the first one to say that the college student I know best is me, the kid who never leaves his bed and does alllllll work while lying down. But bed trays are great for sitting on the floor, making your dorm desk a standing desk, claiming a spot in the library, you name it. Bed trays are the new lap desk, you heard it here first.

An Apron

We should all be working in aprons.

A Teddy Coat

I don’t just enjoy things that make your dorm room cozier, although that is a major motivation of mine, I also keep an eye on the trends. This fall, fortunately enough, the trend is Teddy Coats: plush, shearling, or faux fur coats that make you look like, well, a teddy bear. Worried about sizing? Don’t be! Oversized is everything now, and thank god, because I’ve been rocking that trend since my growth stopped at age like 14.


Look up what’s going on near the college during the school year, and buy them two tickets (for a friend, or, if you’re nearby, you!) for something they’d enjoy but wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford. For most people, that would be concerts, I will admit most of my classmates aren’t as jazzed about our local theatre troupe putting on An Octoroon as I am. But this is a bingo choice for Pretentious Art Kids like me. Film Student? Gift card to an arthouse theatre or, come on, who are we kidding, buy them tickets to The Favourite. Music Major? Hello symphonies. Really, the more pretentious the better when it comes to tickets. The jackpot is opera tickets, nothing says “I am a Sophisticated Student of the Arts” like rolling into class like “oh, well, I was at the OPERA last night…”
Please only go this route if you know the student well enough to guarantee they’d enjoy it.

A Nice Liquid Receptacle

We have meal plans, we get access to a beautiful soda fountain 3 times per day. In between that, we gotta make do. Enter: My beautiful Yeti mug, who I fill with 72 oz of lemonade at 11:30 and 8:00 every day. She is beautiful, she is strong, she’s as cold as ice, willing to sacrifice, etc. You like S’well? Get them S’well. You like some other brand? Buy them another brand.

Vine Reference Stickers

I have yet to meet a college student who doesn’t know the EXACT inflection of the phrase “fre shavaca do,” get them stickers to communicate to others that they understand internet humor. Ask them their favorite vines, a totally normal thing that people do, and then redbubble that shit! But if you do, buy 10 because 50% offffff yessssss.

LED lighting fixtures + Smart bulbs

I don’t need to tell you that dorm lighting SUCKS SO BAD. You get one fluorescent light and that’s it. It’s lucky for us, then, that we’re living in an LED golden age. Everything is so dirt cheap, you can get 5 feet of app-controlled LED strips and set your own mood lighting! Or, if you know they’re like me and do everything to the light of their bedside table, try a Smart Bulb!

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10 Alter Egos from the Baby Name Tinder App

I like Dais. It’s gender neutral. It’s fun to say. It’s very punnable. It’s unique. My mom already uses it. For a very confused gender fence-sitter, it does the job. I’m writing under it, directing under it, even my professors use it now. But sometimes I wonder, if I went full-time boy and transitioned completely…what kind of boy would I be? What name would suit that?

In order to find some answers, I downloaded Kinder, which is like Tinder, but for baby names. I selected my categories: English (England), English (New Zealand), English (United States), English (Australia), English (Celebrity), English (Celebrity kids) Irish (Ireland) and Mythology. And then I got to swiping.

As I kept swiping left on name after name, I imagined who I could possibly be with a name like…

Jaxson Johnston

Likes: Miller High Life, saying “cool cool cool no doubt no doubt no doubt” and thinking it’s my cool thing that I made up when it’s clearly Andy Samberg’s

Dislikes: Professors who don’t understand my “worldview,” Girls who post selfies with Lana Del Rey lyrics as the caption

Twitter Handle:@jaxandviolence

Chandler Johnston

Likes: Those belts that have like…crabs embroidered on them, Huge Teas from Cookout, going to Five Points on the weekend, Hard Rock Cafe T Shirts, The Doors


Twitter handle: @notsarcastic

Flannery Johnston

Likes: Pat Conroy novels, Instagramming pictures of lakes, poetry slams, calling girls on Tinder “madam,” quote tweeting Trump’s tweets with a cutting quote from The Office.

Dislikes: Southern Gothic Short Stories, STEM majors, peacocks, Starbucks, people who call me “Flan”

Twitter handle: @hardtofind

Caden Johnston

Likes: The collected works of Charlie Kaufman, Folding Ideas video essays, complaining about how feminism is ruining Hollywood, Fred Armisen

Dislikes: Country music, the Marvel franchise, people who say they will be a “smidge” late and then a “smidge” turns out to be a half hour, Oscar bait

Twitter handle: @cadenable

Archie Johnston

Likes: Quoting That 70’s Show in conversation, highlighting my hair, wearing button downs over t shirts, retweeting tweets about how terrible straight men are without a hint of self awareness

Dislikes: Riverdale as a concept, people who wear shorts even in the winter, Lifetime movies, girls who don’t like being called “Fair Maiden”

Twitter handle: @IdesofArch

Jax Johnston

Likes: playing bass clarinet, tweeting pictures of tattoos with the caption “one day…” even though I’m terrified of needles, hats, trying to make people call me “JJ” or “J Squared” when I’m feeling fancy.

Dislikes: wearing shoes, banana pancakes, fake punks, buttoning shirts, the Establishment, Mark Zuckerberg, reading books, the Ras Trent SNL sketch

Twitter Handle: @JaxPoetic

Mathew Johnston

Likes: Daily Mass, snapchatting pictures of trees, John Mulaney, retweeting stuff from The Dodo, harboring a lot of crushes on girls that I “love like a sister” and encouraging them to pray for their future husband.

Dislikes: Girls going for terrible boys when the perfect boy is right in front of them all along, readers who mess up location names during Mass, singing hymns

Twitter Handle: @nojustonet

Kyler Johnston

Likes: quote tweeting things with #hottake just to get more attention, yoga, journaling, those hoodies that look like they’re dirty even tho they are clean, being contrarian in philosophy classes, making up deep quotes and crediting them to “anonymous”

Dislikes: phonies, people who let others’ opinions get to them, meat, the way the world is just…so online all of the time, labels

Twitter Handle: @touchtheky

Ricky Johnston

Likes: Bo Burnham, vine compilations, tweeting screenshots of my own twitter draft folder, claiming to be soooo drunk when I’m completely sober, podcasts, karaoke

Dislikes: Ellen DeGeneres and everything she stands for and has been involved in, she knows what she did.

Twitter handle:@yeahareallygoodbook

Arie Johnston

Likes: Attention from girls named Lauren, stock car racing, stealing kisses, slowly building up someone’s trust and then tearing their world apart in front of millions, Arizona, mailing journals to my ex after they dumped me, real estate

Dislikes: decision making, commitment, perfectly good 22 year old girls with eyes like the amber the mosquito got trapped in in Jurassic Park

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We Should All Be Working In Aprons

Chefs do it, artists do it, why can’t writers?

I write in bed.

(It is a beautiful library, I do love it all 5 times a year I visit to print scripts)

I know, I know, I go to a beautiful school with a beautiful library there for the express purpose of being a quiet place to work. But I don’t work in the quiet. I usually have a record playing, or Doctor Who scores, or, most often, Netflix playing in another tab.

If I were to write in the library it would require getting out of bed, putting on tights, then pants, then probably my binder, then a flannel, then a number of ponchos and scarves, then my combat boots, then packing my very heavy weighted blanket and laptop and filling up my yeti cup. It’s a lot of effort to sit in a less comfortable chair for a few hours and then packing it all up again just to go to bed.

Not to mention it’s now 2:08 am, my creative schedule spikes after midnight. So I write in bed.

It sucks.

Mike Birbiglia said in his seminal work Sleepwalk With Me that the key to good sleep was making sure your bed was just a space for sleeping. My bed is my space for everything. I don’t know what a work life balance is.

Enter: The Apron.

I’m not going to convince myself to get out of bed to write, that’s not happening. But I will do whatever is possible to keep my Sleeping Time and Writing Time separate.

When it’s time to write, I turn on my heating pad and put it at my feet, kick off my duvet and just rock the weighted blanket, and soon, when the mailroom at my college processes it, I’ll put on an apron.

Artists wear aprons, chefs wear aprons, dads wear humorous aprons that say “Kiss the Cook,” it’s the perfect outer-uniform to assume a Job.

An apron is the lowest maintenance way to go from non work mode into work mode. It’s an article of clothing that is purely functional. Just the clear barrier I need to go from Work Dais to Fun Dais. So then, the question remains: which apron?

I could go with the canvas-y ones that GBBO contestants wear, or a pinstripe Bradley-Cooper-in-that-Bourdain-show number, or the yellow ruffle daisy print one I had as a child that serves as a nostalgic metaphor for my misplaced femininity.

But no, one night while watching Bon Appetit videos I saw my dream apron: a single piece of fabric, crossed in the back. A quick google led me to The Strategist, a vertical of NYMag, my media boyfriend I fight with but still love.  Lo and behold: this linen blend Japanese apron:

And it has POCKETS! Pockets!!!

Seriously, try it. Put on an apron before you it at your desk job. Taking it off at the end of the day, though a simple gesture, is enough of a ritual to trick your brain into going out of work mode. Plus, it keeps your outfit cute, or makes a casual ensemble look a little more put together.

Before you say “But Dais! Writing in bed is still bad!” I live in a dorm. A single room. My idea of a home office is moving to the hard plastic chair next to my record player. I wrote this in bed, I wrote a play in bed, I wrote a piece my nemesis in nonfiction class called “gimmicky” in bed, I’m okay. When I get rich enough to live in more than one room, then I’ll try moving. But for now, I’ll write in bed in my apron.

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A Catholic Review of Janelle Monae’s “PYNK”

From Torch, the Catholic Music Reviewer:

Janelle Monae, known for often wearing suits and men’s clothes, takes a comfortingly feminine lens to her new video for PYNK. Cruising through what looks like the hills between Victorville and Barstow (color-corrected to be pink) in a pink Corvette hovercar with her own personal #girlgang, they pull up to a restaurant with a sign out front: GRRLS EAT FREE AND NEVER LEAVE.

Already, this music video is promoting generosity between women: they are offering to feed and house any woman who needs it.

Monae then appears in uber-feminine frilled pink pants, meant to blur the line between masculine and feminine, because they may be pink and frilly, but they are still pants, and therefore masculine. She sings “Pink, like the inside of your baby” honoring the sacred role of women to be mothers. “Pink, behind all of the doors, crazy” obviously referring to a woman’s terrain: the home, and whatever “craziness” it may include. “Pink, like the tongue that goes down, maybe” in reference to the tongues of fire from Pentecost.

Tessa Thompson, close friend of Monae, appears between her legs, a celebration of the divine feminine and the power of birth.

“If you got the blue, we got the pink” in the chorus emphasizes the role of Eve as a counterpart to Adam.

The rest of the video is a blur of women celebrating their close friendship.

Exercising together…

Having a sleepover and discussing biology…

There are also a number of images that refer to penetration, perhaps the penetration of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost, as referred to previously?

There is a frankly worrying sign labelled “PUSSY POWER” but fortunately a cat was shown previously, so this is a clever joke meant to subvert a political message.


Before showing this video, talk with your child about Theology of the Body and celebrating the female form without undermining the Church’s teachings.

There are a number of images referring to Pentecost, so perhaps show this to any Confirmandi you may know. How does Confirmation mix the blue of the profane with our mundane pink?

Rating: 6/10

Catchy, but it’s no Oceans.

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No, Jim Halpert Is Not the Unattainable Ideal

If anything, he models dangerous stalker behavior

On November 6, 2018, the nation was embroiled in a national debate.

On November 6, 2018, I ignored that and focused on something that does not matter in the least: Fictional Television Boyfriends.

Twitter Darling Lane Moore posted an excerpt from her book onto Vulture, my bible, my pop culture IV source, my future employer hopefully.

“There Will Never Be a Man As Perfect As The Office’s Jim Halpert”

Nothing. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. Gets my tv opinionated blood boiling more than people defending Jim Halpert. So, I present to you, a point-by-point takedown of Ms. Moore’s thesis.

“But in my experience, Jim Halpert is as unattainable of an ideal as you can get because he makes even the most well-meaning dudes look like serial-killer bores and I hate it.”

Okay, first of A, nice qualifier of “in my experience.” That makes my opinion that, in my experience, if Jim Halpert were a nonfictional independent character, he would be an honest to goodness serial killer.

It’s physically painful to behold his existence, and I don’t feel like that’s an exaggeration.

It is.

His relationship with Pam is basically a fairy tale that seems like it could actually happen, so once you get out into the world of online dating apps and guys you meet at bars who think negging is cute, it’s reasonable to find that you’re very, very angry because you were told there would be Jims.

Oh, there are Jims, you’ll just find them bothering your DMs, or making a grand display of affection out of nowhere and then sulking and/or moving to Stamford when you decline his advances.

I don’t know how many times I have to say this: Jim Halpert Seems Good Because He Was Written That Way. He was written so all his actual selfish behavior works out for him in the end. It’s a cute story, I love watching them fall in love, I really do, but calling him the “unattainable ideal” isn’t just wrong: it’s dangerous.

I spent a lot of my childhood and most of my quasi-adulthood daydreaming about people harboring secret years-long crushes on me. I also harbored more than my fair share of secret, year-long crushes, that’s just what being a baby queer means. But if you are a cis white man who is conditioned to think you are worthy of everything you want, those secret, year-long crushes can turn into obsessions, and obsessions seldom work out well.

Take away the sitcom structured reciprocation of Jim’s actions and what you have is a recipe for stalking. Pure and simple. So when (straight) girls tweet “I want a Jim Halpert” it encourages boys to engage in these pining and destructive behaviors.

He met her and he knew and he acknowledged this and held out hope they’d end up together, even though she was dating some dickhead for a long time.

What normal people would do if their crush was ENGAGED (not dating! ENGAGED) to “some dickhead”: say “oh well” and put the crush on a back burner.

What Jim did: sulked, then dated Amy Adams because she looked like Pam. Amy Adams was a great person, even if she was in a purse selling mlm and still did cheerleading cheers in regular conversation. But what does Jim do? He dumps her as soon as Pam shows any flicker of hope for him, proving that Amy was just a pawn in his seasons-long game.

Jim, who is reliably calm and empathetic, no matter what happens.

Empathetic???? Where! Show me the empathy! Do empathetic people systemically gaslight their coworkers near constantly? Do empathetic people discourage their own girlfriend from moving out of a hotel room to a nearby street because it would be “like living together”???? I guess the only thing that matters in a male SO is how he treats you, not how he treats people as a whole.

When Pam’s veil tears at their wedding, he doesn’t tell her to get over it or panic, or just say “sorry” and move on. Nope, he compassionately cuts his own tie, thereby yet again doing anything and everything he can to make sure she’s happy all the time, like it’s his freaking job to make sure of it.

OR, hear me out: he is presented with an issue at his own wedding, so he makes it worse in response.

If his job was to make her happy, where was he at her art show? Why wasn’t he happy when she got the very expensive ipod at Christmas instead of his teapot full of cheap inside jokes?

Oh! And this is so fucking sad that it’s worth noting, but he actually asked Pam out on a date for dinner like a normal human being.

Local Man Gets Cookie For Doing Bare Minimum, more at 11. He’s Jim! He puts more effort into harassing Dwight than he does asking Pam out. I expect more from fictional leading men.

And even when she rejects him, he doesn’t get angry at her! There’s no angry tirade about how she’s a tease or a liar or a bitch. If anything, he freaking cries and BLAMES HIMSELF and apologizes for misreading signals.

He cries and blames himself because he did the wrong thing. He doesn’t get angry. Instead, he moves away and finds a new woman to carry the burden of his mistakes. Karen has to deal with all of Jim’s baggage because he wouldn’t do the right thing and communicate with someone he upset. And he did upset her.

When Pam is upset that Jim lifted her up at the karate studio, he starts to write her a formal apology email, but then does one better and buys her a bag of freaking Sun Chips and quietly puts them on her desk, expecting nothing in return, just so she knows he cares about her and would never intentionally upset her.

Yeah, except earlier in the episode, he asks her to do something mean to Dwight in return for Sun Chips, so it just looks like he’s paying her back for that. Also, do you know what’s better than wordless Sun Chips? Sun Chips and also a quick “Hey, sorry about when I physically handled you without consent and did not stop until you said no multiple times.” Doesn’t even have to be in an email. But knowing how Jim hates communication, he would have to do it in an email.

He’s totally happy to still be her best friend even if she never loves him back, which is just literally unreal, though it shouldn’t be. He’s not just being her close friend because he presumes one day they’ll end up together or sleep together, and you know that because for the first few seasons, he had no reason to believe that would ever happen.

*stares into the camera like…oh you know what I’m going to say*

Let’s go to the tape, folks.

“For a really long time that’s all I had. I just had little moments with a girl who saw me as friend. And a lot of people told me I was crazy to wait this long for a date with a girl who I worked with, but I think even then I knew that… I was waiting for my wife.” — S06E04, Niagra

He had no reason to believe that, but he still did. And that’s called delusion, a delusion that is paid off in this fictional universe.

Jim, on the other hand, would’ve probably still been Pam’s friend even if she’d married dumb Roy and had his dumb kids because he loved her unconditionally.

Fictional character. Also, hypothetical. Yknow, Unattainable I get. But Ideal? Because my ideal is someone who knows how to healthily handle a crush.

In a world where guys will go out with you once and never talk to you again, but then like all of your Instagram posts for the rest of your life like they never really wanted to date you and instead just wanted to capture you in glass and look at you forever like a caged fucking bird, Jim Halpert is a fucking revelation.

This is the last sentence in the excerpt. I can’t speak on heterosexual dating life, I am a 20 year old baby who’s been with one of my partners for 2.5 years. I don’t date around, especially not with cis men. But this seems…off. It seems like Jim Halpert’s main redeeming quality is that he is…marginally old fashioned? You wanna know why? Because Instagram liking and ghosting doesn’t make good tv!

To sum up, Jim Halpert:

  • harbored a secret crush on Pam for years
  • dated a woman (not just any woman, Amy Adams!) just to be a sort of Pam substitute
  • broke up with her the minute Pam seemed skeptical of Roy
  • didn’t go to her art show
  • confessed his love for her knowing she would go home to her fiance
  • moved to Stamford and ghosted Pam, then dated Karen, only for her to deal with flakiness and no commitment
  • wasn’t even friends with Pam when he moved back to Scranton, prompting her to WALK OVER COALS to sum up enough courage to confront him about this
  • Bought a ring a week into dating, which most people think is romantic, but I think is a one way ticket to That’s It, I’m Ring Shaming. We know he has terrible taste in jewelry because he buys her a heart pendant even Pam admits is ugly, so how did he know what ring to buy? Did he buy something similar to the ring Roy gave her? Yikes.
  • Made Pam going to art school all about him and how much he missed her
  • Bought a house without consulting her!!!!! And because it’s a tv show she loves it because he put a stool and an easel in the garage so she can paint!!! The implications of that!!!
  • I’m not even going to mention the whole sports marketing job and investment and the whole Brian the sound guy palaver.

If Jim Halpert is actually secretly terrible even though he was written to be the best, then who, if anyone, is the actual Unattainable Ideal?

Behold: Benjamin Wyatt, whose main flaws are that he bankrupted a town when he was 18 and is a bit nerdy.

Ben Wyatt, who when presented with an amazing career opportunity in DC, hems and haws over it until he gets Leslie’s outright approval. Jim Halpert would have MAYBE texted Pam about it when the plane landed at Dulles. Maybe.

Ben Wyatt, who realized his crush wouldn’t work out because of his workplace’s rules so he called it off, only starting up again after an open and honest conversation with Leslie.

Ben Wyatt, who got Leslie in trouble at work and so sacrifices his government career for her, knowing how passionate she was about her job. Jim doesn’t even really support Pam’s pivot to sales.

Ben Wyatt is the actual Unattainable Ideal, but because he is very into communication and honesty and steadfastness, is written off as “boring.” Sure, Jim may have the better story, but I want boys today modeling themselves after Ben.

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Seven Basic Plots

Seven Basic Plots is a romantic, Christmassy one act comedy I wrote in six hours on Thursday night…well, really Friday morning. It’s a simple two person play and I’m working on possibly producing it for Theatreworks in the spring.

It’s based on a lecture given in my Journalism class by my favorite professor, Melissa Fay Greene. I was so enraptured by it I had to write about two characters falling in love while talking about movies, my two favorite things to do.

The Seven Basic Plots (1)
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