Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All the Single Ladies

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All the Single Ladies

Article excerpt

Byline: Phoebe Luckhurst

The single woman is a trope, but each of the best modern examples is different: brilliant and infuriating and tricky. These are some of the contemporary archetypes.

The millennial Hannah Horvath in Girls Lena Dunham's obstinate, selfish, fickle character became an unflattering shortcut for Generation Y's entitlement when she first appeared in 2012. Certainly, Horvath is extraordinarily self-absorbed, contrary and maddening. She sabotages her own relationships (see the Fran era), and those of others (see Jessa and Adam, Marnie and Charlie). But she is also endearingly anxious and neurotic.

She is bright, witty and occasionally affectionate. She wants to do so much that she is paralysed. She must adjust to disappointments, both personal and professional.

At the time, Certainly, it's a privileged and very unflattering picture of young womanhood, but it also, crucially, presents those young women as crude, damaged and multidimensional subjects rather than simplistic heroines.

Bradshaw is the of so bile so heroine worship The career woman Peggy Olson in Mad Men Olson, played by Elisabeth Moss in the stylised period drama, offers a pleasing parallel to the story of revolutionary feminist writer Helen Gurley Brown, author of Sex and the Single Girl, who also worked her way up to advertising copywriter in a big agency.

Olson is regularly patronised and humiliated in the high-octane, ultramasculine environment of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. She is disappointed, time and again, by the men she works with, and the men with whom she is involved. She is vulnerable and easily shaken -- but at the same time headstrong, ambitious and knows that she deserves better than she gets, which purchases her the respect of the inscrutable Don Draper.

Unlike her obvious parallel Joan Holloway, she does not use sex to get what she wants. She's a nuanced example of the difficulty of "having it all" at an interesting historic period for the working woman. …

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