Bert & Ernie play the “Pretending Feelings” game:
Mark the date, April 4, 2013. I felt sympathy for Mellie Grant.
In episode 218, “Molly, You In Danger Girl”, we finally had a deep glimpse into Mellie Grant.
And it was just as fucked up as we ever imagined.
However, instead of filling me with horror and hatred, it filled me with…sympathy. Mellie wears a monster mask everyday. But under that mask, is something much more disturbing.
After Mellie and Fitz did their SAG-worthy performance in their television interview. Telling one of the biggest lies ever told, they spun a tale of their first meeting and falling in love. A tale in which it was pretty obvious the only way Fitz was able to sell it was by channeling his feelings from his first meeting with Olivia.
But for Mellie, we find out later that the lie is reality. After the interview was over, Fitz was wallowing in the reality of how they really met and revealed what we all knew, they basically had an arranged marriage based on money, power, breeding and future potential. “Prostitution” is the exact work Fitz used. He knows he never really loved Mellie, and assumed that Mellie was fully aware of the farce that their marriage has been. That all this time they’ve been running this scam. He asks her if it bothers her to lie the way they do.
And then things get real.
Mellie does seem to agree that their marriage is a farce. However, through what I suspect is a combination of nature AND nurture, Mellie unexpectedly declares:
“Pretending is what’s real. Every married couple alive pretends… Marriage is almost ALL pretend for everyone. That’s the reality. That’s what’s real. Buying into the delusion that there is any other way to live together, to get through an entire life together? That’s the fantasy. That’s pretending.”
Oh Mellie boo-boo, really? That’s really what you think? That love and happiness are really not possible? That every married couple is secretly miserable and almost despises each other?
Yes, like the Grinch, my heart great a bit for Mellie with this scene. We now know that while Mellie is conniving, selfish and a borderline sociopath, but we also know she really thinks that’s the only way to live. The only way to survive.
I assume she grew up in a household where this is what she saw as the normal. She grew up with her equally privileged and damaged friends and family who lived their lives the exact same way. Mellie may truly just have a dark place in her soul, but it probably didn’t help that she most likely grew up in an environment that reinforced this view of life and love to a point that she is now, as an adult woman, mother and wife, truly believes that her outlook on life is the correct one.
They have sunshine camps for children with illnesses or those who come from certain socio-economic backgrounds to help them see there is another way of living aside from the circumstances they are forced to live with growing up.
It sounds like there may be a need to do a sunshine camp for rich, emotionally repressed and warped WASP-y kids to let them know that life isn’t all about dead marriages, unhappy children, trust funds and affairs.
After her revelation, Fitz’ reaction (as was ours as the audience) was one of horror followed quickly by sadness.
“Did I do this to you? Or have you always been like this? Because if it was me, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Fitz is amazed that she feels this way. To find out that she isn’t really in on the charade the way he was. To finally know that that she BELIEVES the charade itself was truth, and thought that anyone who didn’t believe that all of life was indeed one endless lie was the true sucker. The contempt he usually feels for Mellie was replaced with sadness for her. Fitz knows true love. He knows that there is more out there and part of him is coming to realize again that he can’t live the lie he and Mellie have built for themselves any longer. He’s sorry he never loved her. Sorry if he helped to twist her perspective even further. Sorry that she truly feels that a true marriage based on love is not an option for anyone, including herself.
That’s why she’s always looked down at Fitz for being dreamy and in his head about things. She thought he was the dreamer for hoping for more. The “magical thighs” comment? That’s really what she thinks Fitz and Olivia have - a magical dream that isn’t reality because she doesn’t believe that love like that is real or even possible.
To Mellie, what Fitz and Olivia have is make-believe and that the loveless, unhappy life they’ve built is more in line with how the world really is and always will be. And that’s why Fitz is sorry. He knows he never truly loved her. And that by agreeing to live the lie, he has had a hand in perpetuating the warped sense of reality Mellie already believed in.
And he’s sorry that even after this discussion, Mellie still asks,
“What’s wrong? What’s bothering you?”
She is so far gone that she doesn’t even realize. Whether she was born that way or it happened along the way, Mellie somehow figured out how to fly with deformed wings. It’s the only way she knows, and may be the only way she will EVER know. And Fitz, resigned to the reality of who and what Mellie is, again regardless of nature or nurture, knows that there isn’t anything else he can really do. He can’t entirely fault her for something that is hardwired into her being.
So he simply responds, “Nothing.”