Thrift, Imperfection and Popular Feminist Apartment Plot on Television


  • Claire Perkins Monash University



Thrift, adulting, imperfection, apartment plot, Insecure, Girls, neoliberalism


This paper will explore the ways in which thrift operates as a signifier of a specific type of lprecarity and imperfection in young women’s lives in several popular series associated with the current ‘golden age’ of women’s television production. The twenty-something women of series including Girls, Insecure, Broad City, Fleabag, Can’t Cope Won’t Cope and Search Party, have all been raised in comfortable middle-class homes and are now living independently in major global, expensive cities. The precarity of the ways in which they dwell, at both a practical and figurative level, is a symptom of what has come to be understood as ‘adulting’—where relatively privileged millennials struggle with the rituals and realities of adult life in a starkly neoliberal society. Through a focus on the narrative device of the apartment plot, this paper will examine how the concept of thrift, with its central spectrum of necessity and choice, can illuminate both the everyday practices and the overarching logic of the adulting phenomenon as represented in this wave of television production. By attending to a variety of contemporary series by, for and about women, it will also argue for the ways in which both thrift and adulting can be understood as specifically gendered behaviours.


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