Girls and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar
With the somber turn Girls has taken in its second season (and the photos from filming for the third season, which show the actors wearing funeral appropriate garb, suggestive a darker turn yet) perhaps The Bell Jar, a novel about a 20-something living in New York and wrangling with depression, is an appropriate, albeit somber, summer read to fill the void left by Girls. Plath’s magnificent book also touches on the kind of despair that Hannah, trapped in her own bell jar of sorts, was left with in the moments before Adam came kicking her door down. Nonetheless, we suspect that, as with Plath’s protagonist Esther Greenwood, having a man won’t be the answer to Hannah’s loneliness.
The Mindy Project and Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Essays
Perhaps a more obvious choice for a summer read, if you’re missing Mindy and the other OBGYNs, might be Mindy Kaling’s pithy book of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), or even Bossypants, since both Mindy and Morgan have read it on the show (and Mindy says she’s leaving her money in her will to Tina Fey). But you’ve probably already read both of those, and while you wait for Kaling’s next book to surface, Nora Ephron’s essays will more than suffice. Every essay that makes up Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck collection serves as a morsel of wisdom on love, friendship, family, and aging. Though Mindy’s still young yet, we come away from each episode of The Mindy Project with similar lessons, mishaps, and laughs.
House of Cards and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
Technically speaking, House of Cards ended almost as soon as it began, since Netflix released the entire season at once. However, while we twiddle our thumbs nervously and await the next season, we might better indulge our appetite for greed, lust, and corruption with another story full of these ingredients. Julius Caesar and the men of Rome might be a fitting replacement for Francis Underwood and the politico moguls of Washington, and the play is just as rife with backstabbing and scheming vendettas. As in Julius Caesar, which follows Brutus’ conspiracy against Caesar, almost everyone is Frank’s personal Caesar, and he won’t break a sweat — or show a modicum of remorse — in bringing them down. In both House of Cards and Julius Caesar, those in power invariably jostle for more dominion, money, and status.
Revenge and Moliere’s Tartuffe
Revenge may be an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo, but the glossy Hamptons-based soap is arguably better suited to the decadent opulence of 17th Century Paris as it appears in Moliere’s melodrama, Tartuffe. Though Emily is far prettier and smarter, Tartuffe, like Emily, infiltrates a family under false pretences to take them down from the inside. Meanwhile, the grandiose, Commedia Dell’Arte style of Tartuffe matches the over-the-top production of the Graysons’ many soirees and the family’s unwavering veneer. Conrad’s corruption and irreverence also fit the mold of Moliere’s classic buffoon to a tee.
Parks and Recreation and Aphra Behn’s The Rover
Aphra Behn was one of the canon’s first ladies working in comedy, and like Amy Poehler at the helm of Parks and Recreation, Behn worked the reins of The Rover, also a jocular comedy (for its time), and one similarly riddled with tricksters and tradition so that Naples of Behn’s play might as well be Pawnee. Andy’s crash-wallop physical comedy in particular fits the jester-like, expedient comedy of Willmore, the protagonist of The Rover. Meanwhile, the characters as an ensemble have an equally debacle-ridden relationship with one another.
Mad Men and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Mad Men hasn’t finished yet, but it won’t be long before we bid adieu and tip our hats to Draper and his SCDP cohort. Like Mad Men, Midsummer Night’s Dream is full of duplicitous, incestual relationships (see Don’s many profligate affairs and his most recent mistress, Sylvia), silver-tongued performers (Roger Sterling would make a fantastic Puck), and fools (Bottom would unequivocally be Pete Campbell). Meanwhile, Joan and the secretarial staff might easily be cast as Queen Titania and her train of fairies, and the wise-cracking SCDP copywriting team as the Pyramus and Thisbe players.
Enlightened and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
One is inclined, following the untimely end of Enlightened, to consult a bottle of white wine and a slew of self-help books (like this one and perhaps this one). Though such titles might have worked for Amy Jellicoe, we should like to give her more credit, and wonder whether Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In might be a more empowering read. We reckon Amy would have been a fan of Sandberg’s advice for women in the still male-oriented workplace, using it as her manifesto and industriously distributing copies to everyone, urging them to “lean in.”
The Office and Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists
Another show that won’t be returning is The Office, and though we weren’t as sad to see it go after nine robust seasons, for all its shortcomings, the show came to a poignant, adorable end in its finale. Something The Office perpetually emphasized was the humanity of the Dunder Mifflin employees (for all their quirks), and the same premise is at the heart of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, a novel about a group of journalists and the intersecting travails of their work and lives. Both sets of colleagues work with paper, after all.