If you watch Girls, you know exactly who Mimi Rose Howard is. Beautifully played by Community’s Gillian Jacobs, she is the pretentious, self-analyzing character who made a short appearance as Adam’s girlfriend. A hero and foe to women everywhere.
I felt compelled to write about Ms. Mimi Rose because she elicits such diverse reactions out of women, good, bad… but never neutral.
In the show, when Hannah comes home and discovers Adam has begun seeing another woman, she locks herself in her room (which is actually where Adam and Mimi Rose have been living) and begins a temper tantrum/ Google bonanza. Who is this quirky, gorgeous hipster wearing a messy bun and asking Hannah if she wants tea knowing full well who she is?
Where most women would feel jealousy or awkwardness, Mimi Rose embraces the moment and wields it into art. Her body of work includes self analyzing art shows and public speeches admitting she chose herself over her first boyfriend in second grade when she realized he was taking time away from her art. Whaaaat.
I must admit, as a Miami girl, this “Brooklyn stereotype” did not hit the nail on the head as it must have for most New York viewers. We don’t have many Mimi Rose’s here. She is an emotional unicorn. I don’t know anyone like her, but she fascinated me. While many women I’ve spoken to found her bizarre or immediately took Hannah’s side, I wondered what life would be like as Mimi Rose.
Self analyzation without judgement. Seeing your life as this separate thing, with curiosity and enough manners to not “mean girl” yourself. These concepts are foreign to me, even as a writer. It’s tough to put yourself out there, so I was enthralled with the possibilities of this character. As an observer, I do quite a lot of the thinking but definitely not curiously (or as much as I’d like to be). Inevitably, I judge, compare or inflict some sort of jagged emotion upon myself. Don’t get me wrong, the self loathing did wonders for my writing, but if I could remove myself as far as Mimi Rose does, how much more focused could I be?
In the show, Mimi Rose is successful, which is another reason Hannah cannot deal. As a “struggling” artist herself, seeing another woman (sleeping with her boyfriend) rise the ranks of artistic accomplishment is not only threatening, it’s pouring salt over a flesh wound. How often does this happen with women? Way too often. She puts unwanted focus on Hannah’s perceived lack of success and serves as a contrast to her “me, me, me life sucks” attitude. Mimi Rose, while still very much self focused, does so with an obsession of understanding her psyche and making art while observing and writing an expose on Mimi Rose. She is the James Franco of cable series characters.
And yet, everyone has taken to her. If you google her character’s name, people are dying to talk about her. While most will focus on her casual and unapologetic abortion, I prefer to focus on her other complexities.
I was tempted to dislike her (while secretly wanting to be her) until that pivotal scene in the cleaners. Mimi Rose opens up about questioning her art, relevance and authenticity. And then, I liked her even more. We are all insecure and when we’re artists doing something that is basically ripping your insides and letting people have at it, especially so. But, I do think we can all “Hannah” quite a lot and dwell or feel the need to constantly remind people that we are very unsure of ourselves and therefore relatable. I too have fallen victim to this. We all have. It’s the whiny millennial who is far too willing to commiserate in the “I hear you girl, you think that’s bad, well let me tell you..” circle. To stand up and own our power, regardless of how unsure we are about it, is totally within our grasp. Living unapologetically and humbly (which I’ll admit Mimi Rose can use more of, but I’ll forgive her because no one’s perfect).
Bottom line is this character elicits all kinds of strong feelings because she unintentionally exposes our shadow side. She was only a brief part of the series, but I am still left thinking more of what life would be like as Mimi Rose versus any other protagonist. The confusion I felt about her character’s emotional “realness” was quickly faded when she owned up to questioning herself in a confident way. We should learn from her instead of roll our eyes at her. After all, Mimi Rose bleeds. We all do.