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Samantha Jones Gets Sensitive

Samantha Jones Gets Sensitive
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Photo Courtesy of HBO Canada

BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL

It took less than three hours for me to realize the importance of being comfortable in my own skin.

I read a few “what to watch now” articles about the HBO Canada, six-episode series, Sensitive Skin — now available on Netflix and iTunes — starring Kim Cattrall. It was billed as a dramedy (some said black comedy), with the former SATC star as “Davina Jackson,” a 50-something woman with a grown son and 30-year marriage embarking on her second-act. I related immediately and prepared to binge.

What I got was a character who is an aging, former actress/model going through a mid-life crisis; contending with a hypochondriac husband and a bratty adult son, Davina is dealing with her own mortality. She gets more neurotic with each episode.

As far as the production goes, Cattrall and her co-stars are all terrific, and the story and scripts are excellent. But a comedy? Not really.

By episode two, I vacillated between wanting to punch the screen and dialing my pharmacy for Zoloft. My anger came from frustration with what seems every show about people on the other side of fifty. They’re always feeling lost, regretful, or tired in an existential way, as opposed to satisfied with career choice they’ve made, families they’ve raised, and lives they’ve curated; looking forward to what’s next. I saw myself easily sliding into sadness if I let my mindset mirror Davina’s.

I kept watching the last four shows hoping her troubles would resolve themselves and then learn an upbeat life lesson. I came to the conclusion the only happiness message I would take away is to be the anti-Davina.

Cattrall’s character showed me that some problems with aging are ones that we bring on ourselves. As a former high school It Girl, who is clearly considered still a looker given how much male attention she gets from her husband as well as other men, Davina is constantly looking at her reflection with disappointment. My take away: See the beauty in who you are now, not who you used to be. She’s gone.

Davina and her husband Al have moved from their suburban home, complete with koi pond, to a downtown industrial loft to begin life anew. Yet, she seems unsure of their decision, which comes through passive-aggressively, by not buying furniture, and when finally doing so, it’s too uncomfortable to sit on. My take away: If you’re going to make a change, then change. Jump in with both feet and be 100 percent present.

This scene was for me Davina’s lowest moment: She runs into a former classmate. The woman recognizes immediately her one-time idol, but Davina needs to be reminded of how they know each other. Her school friend is now a brain surgeon, but acts as though her accomplishment can’t compare to whatever must have unfolded for the person she put up on a pedestal long ago.

In my mind, this woman with M.D. after her name, who still has a girl crush, is the one with the problem. Davina however, seems ashamed and embarrassed that she has not lived up to the expectations of this virtual stranger. She begins babbling excuses for her three-decades with Al, a pop culture columnist, her son, and art gallery job that became her life after she indeed worked as a model and appeared in a few movies – two fields that many beautiful and talented people can’t even break into, let alone work in.

My take away: Take pride in where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.

Just when Davina decides to confront her mid-life crisis, and appreciate who and what she has, life gives her something to really go into crisis over.

By the time I was done with season one (season two is currently only available in Canada), all I wanted was to want what I have, find the good in every situation, and moisturize more diligently my hopefully thick skin.

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Lorraine Duffy Merkl
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels BACK TO WORK SHE GOES and FAT CHICK, for which a movie version is in the works.