Oh my god, you are such a Charlotte! Okay so no one actually says that, right? But there is something rather addicting about comparing ourselves and our friends to fictional characters, especially from TV and movies. Joanna and I routinely cruise through town, windows down, singing along to Tempted by the fruit of another à la Lelaina and Vickie in Reality Bites. I’m the Vickie to her Lelaina: i’ve got the makeup, vintage dresses and blunt-honesty. While she’s got the cigarettes, 90s style and a sense of idealism. But when aren’t Winona Ryder and Janeane Garofalo without each other; we relate to these characters’ friendship more than anything else.
Taylor will often send me a Facebook message telling me that I’m Lorelei, she’s Rory, and Joanna is Lane Kim. Ok, sure. But when you really stop to judge the comparison, it doesn’t quite fit. It’s a lot like horoscopes: half of the time the Cancer horoscope describes me PERFECTLY! Obviously no real person is a TV character. No matter how dynamic a character may be, their entire existence only consists of 1—50-something hours of scripted/edited livelihood. Real human beings have so many more flaws and mundane details than there is room for in 6 seasons and a movie.
Here are some thoughts about how useful and amazing it is to relate to fictional characters, in point form, because #internet:
- It strengthens friendships
For years Hannah and I referred to each other as Cee Cee and Birdie from the book/movie Beaches, and when we were long-distance friends, this made it a little easier to keep that inside-joke-closeness that best friends just have to have.
- Fictional characters are often easier to relate to than people IRL
By this I just mean, when nobody wants to be your friend, the girls on GIRLS HBO will still hang out with you.
- It helps us describe who we are
Like any form of personality-descriptor, saying you’re a Kramer is like saying you’re an ENFP or a Gemini: it’s quick, simple and cut-to-the-chase first date get to know you type stuff. Why bother getting to know you if you say you relate to Joey Tribiani, when I know for a fact that makes us incompatible?!?
- It helps us understand each other
This goes along with the one above, except not only that, but if you’re running around calling yourself Leslie Knope, whilst acting like a total April Ludgate, I’ve just learned something about you. You’re delusional?
However, it’s never good to generalize a human being. We’re complex, goddamnit! It hurts when someone calls you ‘the hot one’ or ‘the ditzy one’; you’re, like, so, so, sooooooo much more than that! But sometimes fictional characters just aren’t.
And then there is the problem of forcing yourself into a certain character. This was a big thing for me, and a few people I know, in high school. When you are still figuring out not only who you are, but how you want other people to see you- it can result in trying too hard. I’m not saying you’re always being a fake person, but it’s really all one big performance, ‘aint it? For me, it was that bubbly, crazy girl thing: spitting milk out your nose, dressing impractically, always smiling, and having ‘cute quirks’: but no one is like that all the time (not even Zooey Deschanel). That’s why it’s a performance. Sometimes, when you’re still figuring things out, you act the way you think people are expecting you to act. It can be hard to change what people think of you, but it does happen pretty naturally over time, especially as you grow up and settle into your skin.
Fictional characters I most strongly relate to: Lorelei Gilmore, Phoebe Buffay, Hannah Horvath, Ally McBeal, Luna Lovegood, Seth Cohen, Annie Hall, Peggy Olsen, Raven Baxter, Lindsey Weir, Ted Mosby, Taylor Townsend…