What stage of life are you at? Have you hit the milestones you were meant to by this age? Have you done enough to fulfil your role in society? Do you have everything you want? Or at the very least, the things you’re meant to want?
Shit to think about, isn’t it? These sorts of questions penetrate our lives way more than we may care to recognise on a day-to-day basis. But every time we hit a new landmark age, a friend gets engaged or a new mum on Facebook uploads another 'Baby’s First Time Doing Something Completely Unremarkable' photo collage, a little part of us can’t help but wonder, 'Why haven’t I done that yet? '
We’re spoiled for stories about the optimum age to do this or the age we’ll peak at that, and it all feeds into the unhelpful narrative that defines women’s lives: time is running out. Sure, fertility is the big, emotionally taxing elephant in the ladies’ room. However, having a child isn’t the making of a woman, certainly not if she doesn’t want it to be. And this terrifying idea that we’re all meant to have everything together by the time we arrive at our mid-30s (the time we should have settled down, stepped up in our careers, found a partner and have a house and kids, so they say) isn’t helped by the lack of cultural signposts pointing to what happens when that all goes really fucking wrong.
What, for example, happens when you’ve been sleeping with your married boss and find yourself irately offended when you get sidelined for a new role? How about when you're competing for your daughter's attention with her dad (who you divorced) and her shiny new stepmum? What about when you’ve decided to get back with your ex and want to try for a baby? It's tragic, but it's laughable. Things don’t always go the way we’re taught they're meant to. These sorts of awkwardly relatable scenarios are explored in a new television series that finally tackles the messy, traumatic, funny, ridiculous reality of thirtysomething womanhood.
Women On The Verge was inspired and co-written by Lorna Martin, whose magazine column turned memoir has now manifested in a six-part comedy drama coming to the W channel in October. Primarily based on Martin's experiences and the lives of some of her own pals, the series follows the lives of three friends in their 30s who are (thankfully) far removed from the Sex and the City example – it's outrageous that this remains the lasting example for the limbo between the better documented quarter- and mid-life crises, don't you think?
The Gone Girl phenomenon has meant we've spent a lot of time watching interpretations of women at thriller-oriented psychological breaking point. But how often do we watch the comparatively mundane chaos of just trying to keep your job, drinking a bit too much too often and actively pursuing therapy through the lens of women who are neither middle-aged nor navigating teenage turmoil? Investigative journalist Laura, single mum Katie and Alison, recently reunited with her ex-husband, are the "women on the verge" in this new series and poised to fill that gap.
Far from the typical romantic narratives with which we're bombarded, Women On The Verge questions why we lean towards assuming that finding a man is the solution to whatever issues we're dealing with in our personal lives. It tackles the expectation of being wiser just because you're a bit older. It approaches the difficult conversation around being in your late 30s, without a partner and really wanting to have kids. It's also a reminder that as we look around, comparing ourselves to peers who have ticked all the boxes we thought we were meant to have achieved by now, even though the outlook seems pretty bleak, a dark sense of humour and a couple of understanding mates will serve you pretty well in getting through it.
Women On The Verge starts on UKTV channel W on Thursday 11th October 2018 at 10pm
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