Two celebrations of the quirky girl can be found in the film Happy-Go-Lucky and the sitcom New Girl. There are so many similarities between the girls in question that it makes one wonder how much the creators of New Girl's Jess borrowed from Mike Leigh's always sunny side up character of Poppy.
|Whenever I see your smiling face: Sally Hawkins as Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky|
Poppy is aggressively positive, but she is also quite sensitive to others' feelings. At times it seems she may even put herself at risk in order to help someone. She is always on the lookout for the good in people, whether they happen to be a young student bully, a homeless person, or her uptight driving instructor (played by a brilliant Eddie Marsan). She is 30 and single and wondering if she will always be that way, but she isn't torturing herself about it. She shares a flat with her acerbic best friend Zoe (Alexis Zegerman), who tries to talk her down from the clouds from time to time.
Poppy is also exhausting to watch. Some would find her absolutely maddening to be around. She is very childlike, eyes always wide open, just so thrilled to be alive. She has a very individual sense of style, reminiscent of a little girl at dress-up. Poppy may be an existentialist's nightmare, but Happy-Go-Lucky is a wonderful film. It is not manic, like its heroine. As Leigh has done before, he shows us regular people just living their lives and they are fascinating to watch. Although most of us can't or wouldn't want to be like quirky girl Poppy all the time, it might be nice to try to see the good side of things more often, to try to be as open to the world as she is.
|Adorkable Zooey Deschanel as Jess in New Girl|
Quirky girls in film and television are usually in their '20s and '30s. It easy to find such girls cute and adorkable. But the screen, big and small, usually shies away from such ladies when they hit their 40s and beyond. Or if they are portrayed, they have crossed over from quirky to wacky, eccentric, or full-on crazy. The middle-aged quirky woman is frequently styled with accessories like voluminous scarves, too much jewelry, and an outsized sex drive, a la Kathy Bates in About Schmidt. They become figures of fun, many steps past caricature.
Is that what we ladies have to look forward to as we age? That our personality quirks will become so outsized that we will cross over from arty fun girls to artistes who haunt adult education classes and wine parties? Actually that doesn't sound so bad. But it's not adorkable. The ladies depicted on the blog Advanced Style is a hint of the quirky girl's future. Women can continue to look fashion forward and fabulous. Individualism and style is not just for the young.
|Photo by Ari Seth Cohen - Advanced Style|