Manhattan is a profoundly adult and complex show, but it isn’t afraid of occasionally including a little old-fashioned belief in the human spirit, which is welcome in a TV landscape that so often wallows in nihilism.
People are constantly creating problems for themselves, problems that have to be solved and even some that can’t be solved. I’m no stranger to this self-destructive behavior. I made a list of classic films that I had never seen – that I should have seen – a shame list, literally shaming myself for my shortcomings. Completing this list isn’t too hard a task but nonetheless gives me a good incentive to watch the classics that I’ve ignored for years. Ironically, Woody Allen’s Manhattan is one of the films on The Shame List, and this neurotic tendency to create problems is the very premise of the film. For the eccentric characters in Manhattan, creating unnecessary, distracting problems serves as a way to avoid dealing with the more terrifyingly unsolvable problems of the world.
By now, young people scratching and clawing their way towards adulthood is a quintessential, clichéd story. The wide-eyed dreamer trying to make it in the big city is one of the hoariest tricks in the book, but Frances Ha is a welcome new variation on this theme, a striking and beautiful ode to youth and its many flaws. Headlined by Great Gerwig, Frances Ha is nothing short of a triumph, an endearing, unforced, and honest story of failures and frustrations.