Summary: The TV show “Castle” gives us a mirror in which we can see ourselves, our hopes and fears — skillfully constructed by the best producers, actors, and technicians in Hollywood. Among other things it shows us a vision of the changing nature of relations between men and women — and its effects on marriage. It’s how the arts help us prepare for the future. Spoilers for Episode 2 and thereafter of Season 8!
“People need stories, more than bread, itself. They teach us how to live, and why. … Stories show us how to win.”
— The Master Storyteller in HBO’s “The Arabian Nights”. Stories also warn us, showing us how to lose.
Sometimes, rarely, a TV show clearly shows us America in motion — evolving into something new. “Castle”, staring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, does so for one of the greatest events of our era: the adoption of gender roles without precedent in history. Wonderful for Alphas, bad for Betas, hellish for omegas. We see the consequences of the eponymous hero’s decay from bold strong alpha to beta orbiter. From leader to butt monkey (he’s the humorous contrast with the omnicompetent Beckett).
It’s a vision of America’s future as women become better-educated and often more fit than men (see the graduation numbers by degree). It’s a slow-mo evolution, taking years for women to transform the workplace and climb the ladders. But eventually they’ll reach critical mass and break through the glass ceiling in large numbers.
Previous posts have chronicled this as seen in the Castle – Beckett relationship. In season 6 she chooses wisely & agrees to marry Castle (rich, mild, family man), but probably dreams at night of her alpha ex-boyfriend. In the finale to the season Beckett’s husband mocks Castle, who finally sees his decay. He fakes his death to start a new life elsewhere (it was too bleak for viewers, so in mid-season they did a sloppy and incoherent explanation).
Of course it doesn’t work. Castle eventually marries Beckett. But Beckett, now a lithe hot NYPD Captain, feels revulsion for this overweight beta in her bed, and dumps him to seek adventure fighting evil at night as a Lone Ranger. We see the result in episode 3 of season 8. The show begins by drawing portraits of Rick Castle and his wife, Kate Beckett. First we see a lonely beta orbiter, sulking alone with his iPhone (transcript here)…
- “Hello. I am your new home-operating system. My name is Lucy. What’s yours?”
- “Uh, my name is Rick Castle, and my wife just left me.”
- “Yikes. Sucks to be you, Rick.”