Since subscribing to Netflix this year (yes, I’m a bit late to the game because I had tons of other content I was accessing – and well, basically, life….until COVID hit), I have been watching some wonderful shows.
Sure, there are some crap ones on Netflix (oh boy, are there some shit shows on Netflix) but there’s also some good ones that make you sit and think about them.
One I binge watched recently was Rita.
It’s a Danish program of five series and was a bit of a hit both in Denmark and even Australia (or was it because the Danish princess Mary is an ex-Australian?).
Certainly in this household, I couldn’t get enough of Rita.
I watched the entire series over a couple of weeks because not only was the subject matter relevant and topical – it was real and human.
I loved that Rita exemplified a woman of her 40s who had her own demons to overcome, namely her childhood relationship with her parents that she had never faced and which kept throwing up situations that led her astray.
On the outside, she seemed confident, self-assured slightly aggressive and egotistical however, all her actions and behaviours was about keeping the children safe from their parents.
By this, she meant the parents who had some weird thinking in child raising.
(My single and child-free friends know the type. Helicopter parents who make excuses for their child’s shitty behaviour; parents forcing their kids to follow their failed dreams, you get my drift).
Well anyway, Rita is surrounded by work colleagues who each have their own personal dramas to contend with as well as the internal politicking of the school and how to handle the children and the parents. In fact, the school kids in the show are the MOST NORMAL ONES compared to the adults who are flawed in their own way.
Rita has a friend Hjordis, (well, I should say that Hjordis THINKS she has Rita as a friend). Rita is the type of person who doesn’t really need anyone in her life – she makes her own decisions, decides what she wants to do and when, cares nothing about authority and rules. Hjordis to me represents the young, carefree and creative young person who hasn’t yet been ‘cynicised’ (that time in your work life where you begin to be cynical). It wasn’t lost on me that I was the Hjordis character for many years of my corporate life.
However, I wanted to be like Rita.
I should have always been like Rita.
Women need – and owe it to themselves – to be like Rita.
There was something about this show that made me sit up and take note. Here was someone who cut through the crap that we all have to go through. Family, work, relationships, parents, children – it’s all laid bare. Here was someone who could see through it all and realise what was really important – until she lost her way.
Put simply, she cared too much.
When I look at the personification of Rita as a female character in her 40s, I think she represents many of us women of the same age (okay maybe older like me) who just reach a point in their life and think, “enough of the bullshit!” The ones who don’t want to play the politicking, pander to petty demands of people who are on power or ego trips or see through the situations that are served to us cleverly disguised with nice words or deeds that make us feel guilty that we’re not part of some societal trend.
There’s something liberating to watch a woman onscreen who we can relate to. She doesn’t take shit from anyone, she may not know what she wants but she knows how to get it; she’s strong, assertive and confident. She treats everyone equally – adults and children. I think women owe it to themselves to be like Rita at times.
She even wanted me to take up smoking as an act of defiance (until the Hjordis voice in my head told me, “no Helen, it’s bad for you! What will your parents say? What would your husband think? etc. Women know these little voices in their heads).
Defy authority. Defy the rules in society that tell us how to think, act and behave. You may not smoke – at least we have plaid.
Women, be like Rita.
Relax, Rita, I’ll teach you how to knit.
Photo: From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_(TV_series)