First, I don't binge-watch. I marathon. "Binge" implies a problem, "marathon" connotes endurance. I am dedicated, not lazy, OK PEOPLE??? Anyway. Here are my thoughts while watching "The Path" on Hulu instead of cleaning my house, grading papers, or caring for my children. HERE BE SO MANY SPOILERS I DO NOT EVEN CARE.
1. No one has said it out loud yet, but I suspect one of the "secret" tenets of Meyerism is a devotion to Kinfolk Magazine. All these home-cooked meals enjoyed on back porches with twinkly lights and (mostly) white people wearing wearing thick vintagey sweaters and carrying leather satchels through the woods. But seriously, the Kinfolk/Madewell/Patagonia game here is ON POINT. I would not be surprised if some hipsters try and make Meyerism happen in real life. (Annnd I will probably join.)
2. Alternative theory: It is always fall here. Always. Is this Stars Hollow? Were all the quirky characters on Gilmore Girls not really quirky and just really culty? That's why Rory was so eager to leave, and that's why Lorelei's parents freaked out when she left home- you would to if your teenage daughter went to join a freaky cult. (That I will join if leather boots are included with all the green smoothies. Because of course they drink green smoothies.)
3. Let's talk about junkie-addict Mary. I really like how hot she looks after surviving a hurricane. She looks like an extra from a Taylor Swift video, what with her perfectly tousled hair and cut- off shorts showing just a hint of bum cheek as she crawls around sexily looking for water. Yes, that's clearly what's happening here, she's looking for water. Everyone knows the best way to do that is by crawling around sexily. (Here she is taking a break to stand sexily.)
4. But damn, that coat she wears when she tries to leave the compound? GIRL, GO BACK, YOUR BANGS ARE PERFECT AND THAT COAT IS EVERYTHING. You want to go back to crawling around in booty shorts? No. Stay in the cult with all the beautifully tailored button-down shirts and stunning outerwear.
THAT COAT THO
5. How is everyone making these shrunken grandpa sweater vests look so chic? I am drinking their chambray kool-aid or their artisanal coffee, whatever they are offering. Even the green smoothie juice things.
6. Dude. So this cult is about a bunch of (mostly white) people who are irrationally devoted to an old white guy. They want to educate the "ignorant systemites" and put an end to world-wide corruption and suffering. AS PART OF THEIR MISSION, THEY HELP SOME REFUGEES FROM HONDURAS.
Is this a television show or just a really long campaign ad for Bernie Sanders?
7. People who leave the cult are called "Deniers." See above comment.
8. There is a lot of cultural appropriation here with all the Peruvian/Latin American tie-ins. Because, again, white people.Despite having a "spiritual center" in Peru, no Peruvians apparently are worthy of the light, just worthy of providing beautiful embroidered clothes and "excellent marijuana." I'm not shitting you, that's a line from the show.
All I'm saying is that as an intersectional feminist, I think people of color should have a chance to be hoodwinked by a nonsense religion too. (I'm joking, no one should be hoodwinked.)
9. There is an awful lot of time dedicated to showing people showering in this show. I'm pretty sure it is symbolic (at one point, someone is LITERALLY WASHING THE BLOOD OFF THEIR HANDS) but mostly it is just boring. Mary showers. Ashley showers. Eddie showers. Cal showers. We get it. These are clean cultists.
10. So Heath Ledger is back from the dead, aging backwards and playing the role of Hawk in this series. So that's happening.
No. Seriously. Look.
It's fine. Everything is fine.
************************SOME SERIOUS THOUGHTS YOU CAN SKIP*****************
*Obviously, given my upbringing, a show about a man losing faith in a small and insular religion is painful to watch. No, I'm not directly comparing Mormonism to Meyerism (although both start with a dude receiving a vision and trying to create an American Utopia and focus strongly on family and marriage and do a lot of outreach for the poor and...oh, wait.) But I think the themes of faith and community and self are pretty universal.
*It broke my heart when Eddie said he didn't know what was "real" anymore, and so he decides to base reality based on "goodness." If he can find evidence of Meyerism doing "good," or at least more good than bad, he'll stay- because helping people change their lives is "real." When he pleads with another character to reassure him, he asks,"We're doing good, right? We're helping people, right?"
* I think that's the basis of most human decisions- to stay in your faith, or your job, even a marriage or friendship. We're doing good right? Is good more important than "true?" How much ambiguity is okay? The show does such a great job showing the complexities of Eddie's doubt. Meyerism does do a lot of good. They are the first to respond with aid after a natural disaster, they support amnesty for refugees, and save a family from being deported by ICE. Wait? Are we talking about Meyerism or Mormonism? Oh yeah, the TV one. On the surface, people in the movement look happy. The corruption on the leadership level doesn't impact the day-to-day lives of the average member. I deal with this question regularly, and I don't have an answer.
*Seeing Eddie's wife Sarah reject him and her son when he admits he doesn't believe hurt too. It's clear that their breakdown happened because of differing priorities. For Sarah, it's Meyerism first, family second. For Eddie, it's family first, Meyerism second. He's willing to stay in Meyerism (to an extent) for Sarah, but she isn't willing to stay in their marriage without complete devotion to the movement. When Eddie tells Sarah, "I am the same person, okay? I love you, I love our family, I believe in the work that we do, but the rest is just f#$%ing fairy-tales," Sarah says, "You are talking about everything, everything in my very soul." Well, I've been there. Spouseman's been there. That's real.
*Sarah's in-laws. The father-in-law is desperate to help rehabilitate Eddie, but the mother-in-law says "he's gone" and that there is nothing they can do. FIL objects- "He's our son-in-law!" MIL: "Not any more." Eddie responds: "There has to be some room for f%$&ing doubt! You'll lose everyone." MIL: "Cowards. Conviction-less people." Or you know, patty-cake taffy-pullers.
*I sympathize with Sarah. She truly believes that Eddie and Hawk won't be with her forever in "The Garden" if they leave Meyerism. In her eyes, she's lost her family, and I understand why she's angry at Eddie for leaving her and taking her son away to die when "The Future" comes. Again, not to put to fine a point on Meyerism and another American-based faith beginning with an "M."
*A lot of people ask me how Spouseman and I navigate my departure from the church with his decision to continue believing. (Albeit non-traditionally.) In the end, despite our differences in belief, our priorities are the same- family first, belief second. We are still navigating what that LOOKS like, on a practical day-to-day basis, and what sacrifices are reasonable for each partner to make. But I'm grateful that the cornerstone of our marriage is the same, and grateful for the sacrifices Dan makes to help our marriage grow.