Remy & Vicky's Breakup On 'One Mississippi' Shows How The Aftermath Of The 2016 Election Can Bring Relationship Problems To The Forefront
One Mississippi has always been a fish-out-of-water story. While Tig Notaro may have grown up in Bay Saint. Lucille, Mississippi, her character on the series is still a stranger in a strange land in many ways. One Mississippi Season 2 premiered on Sept. 8 on Amazon, and highlights that one of many things separating Tig from everyone else around her is that she's likely one of the few characters on the show who didn't vote for Donald Trump. The wide difference between Notaro's west coast liberal and the Deep South conservatives of Bay Saint Lucille has always been present in the show, but it's never been more obvious than in the politics of Season 2 of One Mississippi, and how those politics affect the show's central relationships.
While the character and beliefs of her Mississippi hometown have always affected Tig, one of the first moments where politics play a role in Season 2 belongs to Tig's brother, Remy. Early in the season, Remy has started going to a Catholic church to continue his budding romance with fellow Civil War re-enactor Vicky. Vicky is Vietnamese, unlike most of the residents of Bay Saint. Lucille. During one of their events, Remy's friend rudely tries to tell her that there were no "Chinese" doctors in the Civil War. He then asks Vicky, "Why are you even here?" which, as a question, takes on a cold new meaning in the wake of the Trump administration.
The question is delivered in a disturbingly matter-of-fact manner, because he's under the false impression that every single person who served in the Civil War was white. Vicky explains that she's Vietnamese, not Chinese, and corrects his faulty history. After Remy's friend leaves, Remy and Vicky examine why the exchange happened in the first place, and Remy can't bring himself to admit that his friend made a racist comment. Remy explains that his friend "doesn't know any better."
Vicky refuses to accept that Remy's friend simply doesn't know better. "Why is he saying this now? We've both been doing [Civil War] reenactments for years ... He has permission now. To be racist," she argues. When pressed about who he voted for, Remy drops the bomb: "Don't blame me. I didn't even vote ... There are other issues. Not everybody who voted for him is a racist, either."
Words like Remy's friend's attack and then Remy's defense of it probably sound familiar in this post-election world. But in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville and Trump's DACA decision, white men explaining that other white men simply "don't know better" isn't enough to smooth over casually racist conversation.
The disintegration of Remy and Vicky's relationship is disappointing, but honestly, look at the way that politics and ignorance have had an effect on how people interact with each other in 2017. One Mississippi argues that relationships falling apart due to a lack of awareness is something that can be avoided. Later in Season 2, Tig's father, Bill, begins a relationship with a black woman. After being called out for being ignorant of the ongoing struggle of black people in America, Bill does not defend himself by claiming he "doesn't know better." Instead, he goes out and gets as many books as he can find on the intersection between slavery and mass incarceration and begins educating himself.
One Mississippi makes a distinct point by showing both sides of this coin. Ignorance is not inherited, nor is it something that cannot be conquered. Instead, One Mississippi frames ignorance as a choice that you have to keep choosing. People have the opportunity to educate themselves and empathize with those who do not share their privilege, and that's especially important when in a relationship with someone with different experiences. It's a complicated message that is communicated simply, and just one of many examples proving that One Mississippi is a must-watch show.