I never watched Gilmore Girls and I have never seen Parenthood, but even so, I decided to pick up Lauren Graham's debut novel Someday, Someday, Maybe, which follows a young struggling actress in New York City as she attempts to make it big in show business before she runs out of time on her self-imposed deadline.
The Situation: It's 1995 and Franny Banks gave herself three years in New York City to become a serious actress, and she only has six months left. All she has to show for the last two and a half years of her life are a couple of commercials, a waitressing job at a comedy club, and a spot in one of the best acting classes around. And fortunately, due to her performance in the latest class showcase, and despite of a major mistake in it, she is able to sign up with a well-known agent. Money may be tight, but things are starting to look up. And with her best friend and roommate Jane by her side, as well as her other roommate, Dan, both of which are also trying to make it in the business in their own way, Franny isn't alone and has plenty of support.
The Problem: No matter how much support she has, Franny can't seem to make it very far, even with one of the best agents. And it doesn't help that she is in a constant battle with her unmanageable curly hair, something that only adds to her already ever-present insecurity about her own looks. Then there are her acting classmates, some of which are supportive and friendly, others that only add to Franny's insecurity. Maybe if she didn't have a hopeless crush on the one successful actor in the class, James Franklin, she wouldn't let the amazingly good looks of his girlfriend get to her. Soon, after a season of ups and downs, things seem to go permanently down, and Franny's deadline continues to approach, even as her back-up plan seemingly disappears.
Genre, Themes, History: This is a fiction novel that reads like a romantic comedy, which is something that actually comes up in the course of the novel. While Franny criticizes the typical romantic comedies that make it to the big screen, the plot she describes looks almost exactly like what is happening in her own life, something that her roommate Dan points out to her. The book explores the idea of success, and how the definition for it can be a little different for everyone, as well as what it takes to make it in show business and how far some people are willing to go. Often Franny has to ask herself what she is willing to do in order to obtain a part as her main fear is that if she turns one part down, any part, it could mean never getting another offer again. I find it interesting that Graham chose to set the book in the year 1995. This could easily be because this is around the time when Graham was trying to make a name for herself. But it is interesting reading about Franny receiving her lines via fax and using pay phones to check her answering machine. But the commonly used New York City backdrop makes things feel familiar again.
My Verdict: While I like the premise of a struggling young actress in New York City with an approaching deadline only landing parts in commercials and waitressing on the side, most of the major plot points were incredibly predictable. I do appreciate that Graham is able to sort of poke fun at this though when she has Franny lament this same predictability that often occurs in romantic comedies on the big screen. Even so, it can make for a boring story when you know exactly where it is heading. Also, the ending leaves a lot to be desired as it leaves the reader in a sort of limbo state and offers no real finality concerning Franny's future.
Favorite Moment: When Franny shows up to a movie premiere wearing the same dress as a former classmate who now has her own part on a famous soap opera.
Favorite Character: My favorite character is probably Franny's dad. He doesn't own a TV (doesn't seem to really understand the concept of it) but supports his daughter fully in her pursuit of an acting career. He also keeps his daughter up to date on which books he is covering in his classes, and never stops calling to check up on her despite her less than stellar ability to always call him back.
Recommended Reading: I think for this week I will recommend Tina Fey's Bossypants as it is the actual true account of what one of today's most famous comediennes had to endure in order to make it big in show business. It's funny, it's honest, and its absolutely fascinating.