Back from Whence they came
To be young is to believe wholeheartedly in certain rosy, soothing illusions—that age, infirmity and death will never come to call, that divorce and the suburbs are fates that only befall other people. And yet, we will all know illness, we will all die and many, though not all of us, will move to the suburbs.
Young families have been moving to the suburbs for as long as there have been young families and suburbs. That many of the young families moving to New York suburbs should be Brooklynites, and that many of them should fancy themselves “creative types” and that they, like their parents and grandparents before them, should believe themselves capable of bringing their superior sensibilities to the land of compromises and comfort should come as no surprise. See: Revolutionary Road.
And yet, the New York Times has seen fit to print yet another style section feature on the suburban exodus of Brooklynites called, what else, “Creating Hipsturbia.” After all, “Williamsburg on the Hudson” ran way back in August 2011.
Leaden and cliché-riddled, The Oranges is, for starters, not about the four neighboring townships in New Jersey. There are no emerald green lawns in New Jersey in December (and it was filmed in New Rochelle). No, it’s about two neighboring dysfunctional families—instead of just one—who live across the street from each other. David and Paige Walling (Hugh Laurie and Catherine Keener) have been best friends with Terry and Carol Ostroff (Oliver Platt and Allison Janney) for years. They exercise, barbecue, raise their kids and celebrate Christmas together, and frankly it’s as boring to them as it is to the viewer. Paige is obsessed with Christmas and spends too much time shopping for ornaments and organizing her choir of carol-singing flakes to pay much attention to David, who holes up every night in front of his TV set in his off-limits “man cave.” (Shades of Tommy Lee Jones in the brighter, far superior Hope Springs.) Their marriage has hit a speed bump, and one of the many things wrong with this movie is that nobody ever bothers to explain why.
But things are about to change in the teeth-clenching dramedy of a TV sitcom, when the Ostroffs’ daughter Nina (Leighton Meester) returns home after five years away at college (Huh? No summer vacations or Thanksgiving reunions in five years?) and a hippie romance that has just hit the rocks, and starts sleeping with Mr. Walling, who is more than twice her age.
For many years—decades, in fact—there has been a discernible pattern of migration from the five boroughs. Young singles get married, have babies and then start thinking about safe streets, good schools and picket fences. So they trade city life for a three-bedroom home in the suburbs.
Now, however, that pattern may be subject to change. According to the latest census data, more people moved to the city than moved out last year. Some 252,000 people moved to the city last year, while about 220,000 left for parts unknown. Generally, those numbers are the reverse.
The new figures illustrate a few points, all of them good.