I began watching Penny Dreadful because I am half in love with Eva Green, but my favorite performance is Patti LuPone’s. I love that the show doesn’t attempt to justify the paranormal events. Sure. Frankenstein has raised these people from the dead. It has something to do with water and electricity. Also, stitching.
Yup, lots of witches. Witches who help women and witches who help themselves.
Hounds of god. Check.
Lots of creepy-assed dolls.
Dorian Gray flits about with his boring self and makes one of the most interesting arguments against immortality that I have ever considered. You can’t go on living and be reasonable. It is monstrous to go on living, or to go on being undead, or whatever it is when you’re immortal.
Life isn’t just suffering; it’s necessary suffering. So that death becomes a relief. And we can treat each other, suffering and mortal, with compassion.
Penny Dreadful’s argument isn’t humanistic, but spiritual. There is, everywhere, the search for god and forgiveness. There is, everywhere, the devil and corruption. Sickness. Poverty. So much heartbreak that it’s almost a relief to see Dracula. Simple monsters.
Simple monsters who have cheated not just death but the fragility that is supposed to encompass the whole of our lives.
When I was a teen, I thought my life would burn up so quickly that recklessness was my best option. You’ll be old and frail too soon. Drive faster. Drink harder. Race. Race. Race.
Penny Dreadful argues there is power in our suffering. Power in our struggle to resist and sacrifice. Power in our humanity.
It also argues that we are petty as fuck.
In other words, it’s true. True and human and filled with monsters.
But the finest speech is Billie Piper’s when she begs for her memory. She begs against being unmade. Against forgetting. Against the shell that will exist when she can no longer suffer.
I’ve been thinking a lot about PTSD. About the fact that grief and trauma are different. I think we are bound to grief the same way that we are bound to love. They are extensions of what it means to wake every day with skin and bones. With clumsy attempts to communicate in languages not quite specific enough.
If you only knew. If you only knew how I wake with a bridge between my fingertips that stretches the length of my arms, that spans my chest. That this heavy love I have for you is like an animal. Curled and uncurling. That it sleeps here, against me, and prowls awake. That it says nothing. And knows things.
I am so flawed.
How tired I am, sometimes, of my self.
Year by year, I’m more like a goddamned flower. Closed off. Fragile. And then, each morning, eager for another chance at warmth.