Between Ruby Sparks, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, and Parker Posey on Louie we are steadily approaching Manic Pixie Dream Girl overload. The pop-culture universe is exploding with hyper-verbal, defiantly quirky, and aggressively adorable sprites. Actually, that’s not entirely fair to Louie or to Parker Posey. Posey’s character may fit the rough outline of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but she has an intense and deeply dysfunctional internal life all her own. She’s less a manic sprite created to cheer up a sad-sack creative type than a genuine manic-depressive off her medication, a deeply troubled but darkly charismatic figure with decades of damage, trauma and self-destruction in her past.
In “Daddy’s Girlfriend (Pt. 2),” Louie purposefully ignores warning signs that grow more and more urgent until the entire universe seems to be flashing a “Danger! Turn back! Nothing good can come of this! Turn back while you still can!” sign regarding his budding relationship with Posey. The warning signs begin when Posey says, “Thank you, Marc,” to one of her bookstore co-workers after he locks up the store and the co-worker quietly but indignantly tells her, “My name’s Roger.” An inability to remember people’s name is a symptom of toxic self-absorption. The exchange with Posey’s coworker indelibly illustrates a sad truth: One person’s exhilarating new beginning is sometimes another person’s persistent irritation. The cute girl you desperately hope will become your girlfriend can also be that obnoxious flighty girl her co-workers can’t stand.
Posey’s character doesn’t notice or pay attention to mundane things like people’s names or jobs or lives because for her life is an endless series of climaxes. She’s intent on skipping the boring, mundane stuff of life—standing in line, paying bills, worrying about taxes, remembering people's names—in favor of a life that skips giddily from high to high. Posey does everything in extremes.
Like Jeff Bridges in Fearless, Posey’s reckless lust for life is motivated by a close encounter with death. As she breathlessly tells Louie in a flurry of intense self-disclosure, (“You’ll just have to keep up with me because I reveal myself very quickly to people,” Posey tells him) when she was 14 years old, she contracted carcinoma so bad it reduced her to a “little grey skeleton,” a prematurely aged, 70-pound rag doll just barely hanging on. Then she experienced a miraculous recovery and soon found herself a healthy 15 year old with a “cool, punky haircut” and no interest whatsoever in carrying on the fiction that biology and math and history could possibly mean anything to her after staring down her own mortality in such a dramatic fashion. So Posey dropped out of school and embarked on what appears to be a life of careless adventuring and binge drinking
It can be difficult to take Posey at her word, however, because she has proven herself to be dishonest and manipulative, an inveterate fabulist who might just make up a spectacular lie when she deems the truth insufficiently awesome or exciting. For Posey, everything has to be perpetually awesome. Why start the night with a beer when you can begin the sordid journey to blackout by double-fisting Jagermeister shots? Alas, when Posey storms into a bar and orders a beer and two Jager shots the bartender diplomatically suggests she instead begin with white wine, citing an ugly earlier incident Posey was probably too drunk to recall. When a bartender at a deafeningly loud New York bar is forced into the role of the loving but firm authority figure, it’s a clear sign that something is desperately wrong.
So Louie and Posey head out into the night. Posey doesn’t just dominate the conversation: She damn near sucks up all of the air in New York. Posey talks as if her heart will cease beating if she stops gabbing for even a second, as if she is burning with such intensity that unless she lets her thoughts out in massive, uncensored bursts they’ll destroy her from the inside out.
Posey exudes a deeply alarming level of crazy even before she leads Louie into a vintage shop and implores him to try on an elegant silver dress that—if I might be brutally blunt here—really does not flatter his figure. Louie indulges Posey even as he becomes increasingly aware that his crush might have crossed the line separating “ingratiatingly quirky” from “dangerously unhinged” ages ago.
Posey lacks the filters most sane people have. She is fatally missing the inner voice that tells us when to shut up or stop or be diplomatic instead of being ruled by incredibly arbitrary whims. She is a woman of pure impulse. Posey nails the character’s quicksilver shifts from metropolitan adorability to off-putting lunacy.
Louie puts up with Posey’s bizarre demands and weird quirks—like telling him her parents named her “Tape Recorder” when they couldn’t decide on an actual name—because he’s infatuated and attracted to her (throughout the episode he wears an expression that says, “How much craziness will I put up with for the opportunity to have sex with a cute girl?”) but also because Posey’s vision of a world that’s all giddy climaxes has a certain dangerous allure When Posey takes Louie to her favorite deli, for example, eating becomes foreplay as the couple takes an almost unseemly sensual delight in sampling the establishment’s wares. And when Posey gently bullies Louie into climbing up countless flights of stairs to get to the roof of a building the view really is spectacular, a shimmering dream of Manhattan.
In the episode’s climax, the metaphorical becomes literal when Posey asks Louie to put aside his fear—fear of falling, fear of death, fear of making the wrong decision and rendering his daughter’s fatherless—and join her on the very edge of the building. He’s understandably reluctant—his self-preservation instinct is as strong as Posey’s is non-existent—but he’s also clearly tempted, especially when Posey tenderly tells him that she won’t jump off the building because, “I’m having too good of a time.” For Posey, life doesn’t mean anything unless it’s teetering on the precipice of death. Posey’s character may be mentally ill and self-destructive, but there will always be a dark seductiveness to dancing madly on the edge, especially opposite someone so inveterately adorable.
- I have been on more dates like the one depicted here than I care to admit. I think that’s one of the reasons it resonated so strongly for me.
- Like many Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Posey sees romance as a series of stunts and dares. That is not the recipe for a healthy or lasting relationship.
- Where do you think Louie and Posey’s relationship will go from here?