I wanna know what has happened to my homegirl Brenda.

Two years ago, she turned up on my teevee, with that funny jolie-laide face of hers, and the tattoo on her back, and her IQ in crazy high figures, and her horrific mother and bipolar brother, and I fell slap-bang in love. Every scabrous bitchcrack, every raised eyebrow, just everything about her felt like my new best friend.

Then as season 2 of Six Feet Under unfurled and she started hurtling into her abyss of chain-spliffing dangerho' self-destruction, I stood up for her against the h8ers who didn’t get her pain; I defended her against all-comers whilst hoping she would sort it all out. And now she has: she’s straightened out, she’s moved on, she’s accepted her higher power.

Whatever. She’s gone really fucking boring. The immaculately flawed Ms Chenowith I knew and loved has been stolen by the recoverybots, and I am truly worried that we are never going to get her back again.

Now, I’m not proud of the extent to which I identify with old-skool Crazy Brenda - if I identified with her any more than I do I’d immediately seek some form of heavy-duty counselling. Oldskool Crazy Brenda was in no way a role model, but she was all the better for that. 6FU’s greatest strength is the manner in which it gives its protagonists deeply unlikeable traits and then challenges us to love them anyway.

Every single one of the main characters in Six Feet Under is a real human being; never 100% lovable- sometimes barely 50%- deeply flawed, and given to making loopy decisions for no apparent reason. Because doh, human beings are quite regularly totally retarded arseholes.

And whilst I would never advocate the majority of Brenda's behaviour in season 2, it felt totally true.
'Normal' women, happy women do not encourage strangers to grope them in high class fashion boutiques, do not go to nasty suburban orgies on the eve of their bridal shower, or get into stoned ménages-a-trois with surfer boys.

Women who are so miserable that sex and dope become their only outlet or source of self-realisation do, however. We don’t see those women on our tellies too often though, not in 3-d; those women are usually presented to us as nymphos or sluts. The audience almost never see what those women are thinking, why they do the things or people they do.

We saw that full-fucking-on with Brenda. We saw the look in her eyes as she watched her best friend Melissa give a client a blow job, and suddenly all the boundaries of what she was allowed to find sexually exciting just melted away. Four weeks later we saw the misery as she realised that 2 surfer boy/1 girl action was not a boundary she should have tested. We got to see inside the head of a woman who felt she was always watching herself from outside; how one intelligent, fucked-up woman saw herself. And it was brilliantly, beautifully ugly.

So. Now. Season 4. Actually, I’ve skipped past season 3. Can you even remember what Brenda did during those 16 episodes? This is mainly due to (the Goddess otherwise known as) Rachel Griffiths' pregnancy throughout filming, I’ll give you that.

But honestly, the entire season she got Billy’s incestuous loop-out and a sad-faced doorstepping from Nate. Oh, and she got stalked by Lisa that one time: that was kinda cute (I never disliked Lisa as much as it appears I was supposed to either, come to think of it). But still… she was recovering, I suppose, and
I really don’t want Brenda to stay mad when she so blatantly needed to get sane- that would be bullshit.

But oh lord. This Justin Theroux neighbour guy; the loudest masturbator in LA-la- land, the man who feeds stray cats, the guy who (as of episode three) quite patently is gonna try and fit Brenda into some weird dominatrix role which is really not what she needs. I don’t like him. I don’t trust any man who, at the age of thirtysomething, wanks that fucking loudly! That’s a big flashing EE-EE-EE warning klaxon to my ears.



And it’s not just him, it’s her. I can’t remember the last time she said something truly funny. Maybe that’s because all her coolest lines ('girlfriend? I prefer fuckpuppet', anyone?) were just that little bit transgressive and mad, and now Brenda isn’t mad, she’s all recovered!

Oh Christ on a trike. You mean, in order to be sane, Brenda has to stop bitchcracking? Fuck that up the ass. I want that old scabrous sarcasm back. I want the snarl, I want the Brenda who slouches on sofas sipping a beer; the bitchy, sore, laughing Brenda.
I want...

Okay, screw it. I’ll come clean. I do want Brenda to be mad again. Fuck all this serenity bullshit. I want the immaculately flawed Ms Chenowith back. Because she may have been a potty-mouthed mother-slapping hellion, and a dangerho', and a cheat, but for two whole seasons it was like watching a diamond shining on screen.

And every single minute she was doing that stuff my Inner Brenda was whispering to me, isn’t she cool? Isn’t she? You might be mad, but you’ll never be as mad as she is. She’s doing it so you don’t have to.


Words © Alice Rooney 2004

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