If popular culture is the new opium of the masses –a fact most seem to agree on– television is 21st century people’s favorite pipe. And I am no different consumer.
I am extremely happy that Showtime’s Ray Donovan is back. It’s an outstanding show, extremely well written, with fascinating characters, and superb acting. Different plot lines, themes, and philosophical ideas intertwine in the show. But I am most intrigued by the destiny of the main character, Ray. Meaning, for how long is Ray going to be able to keep his shit together? And how is he able to do it, to keep functioning? How? I would have succumbed –to loneliness, violence, contradiction, suffering, internal desolation, doubts, fear, cowardice– two-fold ten times already. But I am no Ray, and Ray is no ordinary man.
In reality, I find Ray to be a walking embodiment of the prototypical tragic hero. To explain Ray’s strength, I would use that quote from the opening page of Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”
We know that Ray is indeed hopeless. But that’s the beauty of an Achilles, of a Hector, of a Ray Donovan: They’ll keep pushing forward despite the surety of their fatal end.