Suburban banality

As many people who know me outside the blogosphere know that I’m sometimes a little slow on picking up trends especially when it comes to television shows and music. For instance I didn’t get into Nirvana until about five years after Kurt Cobain’s death and I still haven’t watched an episode of Entourage despite being currently in possession of all eight seasons. In light of that impressive revelation I must admit that I have only just watching Weeds, despite the fact it started in 2005 and finished its eighth and final season earlier this year. And the first thing that struck me about the show apart from Mary-Louise Parker was the opening sequence and how it was a perfect summation of suburban banality.

Whilst it is quite obviously based on America suburbia it also has resonating themes with that of Australian suburbia, particularly the new housing estates which dot the outer fringes of Melbourne. The suburban banality is clearly articulated in the opening sequence, and I don’t know if it is done intentionally, through the use of housing stock that all looks the same; the perfectly manicured lawns and parks; and the sterility of the people doing exactly the same thing.

Perfectly complimenting these images is Malvina Reynolds “Little Boxes” a song from 1962 which according to Wikipedia, is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It refers to suburban tract housing as “little boxes” of different colors “all made out of ticky-tacky”, and which “all look just the same.” “Ticky-tacky” is a reference to the shoddy material used in the construction of housing of that time. It does very much speak of suburban America but lines such “And they all look just the same” which concludes each verse is a perfect descriptor of many housing estates in Australia. And to be honest it is a little depressing.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There’s a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there’s doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same,
There’s a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

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