‘Girls’ & Wrestling: A Perfect Match
Matt Niendorf | Thursday, March 20, 2014
Within the next three weeks, two momentous events will take place in the realm of television. On Sunday, March 23, “Girls” will have its season finale, and on Sunday, April 6th, the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.) will host Wrestlemania XXX, the highlight of the wrestling year. On the surface, these programs appear to appeal to disparate audiences and tastes, but I argue that no two shows on TV today complement each other better.
To many, the WWE is a violent, brutish three-hour block of nonsense that caters to children and tasteless oafs. However, this view is small-minded. When I was introduced to professional wrestling last fall, my world expanded indelibly as I became aware of the most compelling storyline on television. Truly, no show captivates its audience more. Characters with whom you were previously unfamiliar become your heroes, while others instill within you a rage felt only in the chaotic lines of North Dining Hall at 7 p.m. It is a program rife with poetic pageantry, unparalleled athleticism and unfathomable plot twists.
HBO’s “Girls” details the story of several young women living in New York City, attempting to both get by and find meaning in their increasingly stressful and confusing lives. Lena Dunham, the creator behind “Girls,” does an adept job of writing believable characters and conflicts. The show does not glamorize or romanticize post-collegiate urban life, but rather displays a world of failed relationships, overdue rent, mediocre hookups and the humor to be found within each.
“Girls” and the WWE suit one another perfectly because they provide the viewer a wide and balanced swath of opportunities for enjoyment, societal critique and self-reflection. Take for example the comparison between two of the series’ major characters, Hannah (Lena Dunham) of “Girls” and the Undertaker of the WWE. They are perfect foils to each other.
Since Season One of “Girls,” Hannah, plagued by OCD, narcissism and tumultuous relationships, has steadily descended into unhappiness, garnering sympathy from her friends, family and even the audience. The girls of “Girls” have slowly solidified their loathing for one another, keeping friendships intact merely to counterbalance their own self-loathing. Careers have failed, boyfriends lost and addictions taken back up. While watching these girls’ lives flounder, the viewer is at once moved, saddened and brought to laughter.
When you wake up Monday morning after “Girls” with the conflicting feelings of melancholy and amusement, you can be certain Monday night will be entirely different. “WWE Raw” has been on every Monday night since 1993. The next few episodes lead up to Wrestlemania and are sure to provide a fantastic setup for professional wrestling’s signature event. All fans of wrestling will be excitedly waiting to watch the Undertaker in this year’s Wrestlemania, as he attempts to continue his streak of 21 consecutive Wrestlemania wins.
The Undertaker will be 49 for Wrestlemania XXX, but, despite his age, his career only seems to be on an upswing. To contrast the Undertaker to Hannah, one need only look or listen to the Undertaker’s opening theme music. Jim Johnston’s “Rest in Peace” ushers in the Undertaker, whose gimmick is basically to spook his opponents. The song is an ominous three-pronged medley of swirling organs, whirling electric guitars and impending percussions of funeral bells and cymbals. The classic opener constantly gives the impression of ascension, but never plateaus or peters off, much like the Undertaker’s storied career as “The Deadman.”
Monday’s “Raw” will surely help in recovering from Sunday’s lachrymose “Girls.”
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.