Even before Covid, my wife and I wondered after relocation. We’re uncertain we want our lives to be tethered to Los Angeles, to be at the whims of the annual forest fires, our future children thrust into the gristle of Hollywood’s ever-enticing mill.
We’ve planned a cross country road trip next month to investigate possible alternatives because even our honeymoon needs to have an underlying purpose beyond simple connection.
New York isn’t an alternative. I loathe the myth perpetuated by Hollywood that LA and New York are the only cities in which people live or even exist. I’ve witnessed firsthand the massive weight lifted off my sister and brother-in-law’s shoulders after they left Brooklyn last summer.
Another reason why not? Netflix’s Pretend It’s a City, an excuse for Martin Scorsese to laugh uncontrollably at Fran Liebowicz’s wit for seven episodes.
Fran is a singular human; a crotchety, wise and lazy writer with an opinion on everything.
The title of the show comes from a simple statement: “Pretend it’s a city where there are other people,” used to describe how self-obsessed and internal we’ve all become, uncaring of the greater community, well before there was a quarantine to give us an excuse to relish/drown in ourselves.
When Fran later describes living in New York as being in an abusive relationship, I believe it. She knows she’s in an abusive relationship but has no desire to leave. Neither do millions of others.
When I spoke to my sister about the show, she told me despite its problems, indeed, because of its problems, everyone in the city shares a connection: misery. New York is overcrowded, loud, expensive and generally more difficult than anywhere else to live, and this is a badge of pride everyone wears. They share this misery, their Stockholm Syndrome.
Perhaps because I’m often embroiled in an abusive relationship with myself, New York remains enticing. I know I said it wasn’t an option but the contradictions are what make Fran and Pretend It’s a City so great.
Who knows where we will find ourselves in the future. We will do our best to pretend it’s a city with other people, but beyond that, I’m not going to pretend we have a clue.