There are always a lot of feelings concerning coming of age stories for young girls. There is often an overdose of sentimentality, an almost magical awareness a girl has of her body. In NBC’s Blossom, Blossom Russo gets her period and the men in her house freak out as if she has just been activated. She does a lot of staring in the mirror as she feels like a new person.
This romantic ideation of puberty was very common in shows and movies of the 80s. Mel Eslyn writes and directs HBO’s Room 104’s eleventh episode “Fur.” A story that takes some of that magic, but puts a fantastical spin, somehow making “Fur” a more relatable coming of age story than its predecessors.
Back in the titular setting, Room 104, is transformed into an animated hotel room in the 1980s. True to the decade, the animation is reminiscent of the Saturday morning cartoons, complete with action 80s music by Julian Wass. Grey (voiced by Natasha Perez) and Finley (Jordyn Lucas) are two young girls who snuck into the motel room to eat snacks and listen to their Walkmans.
It is very clear that they are best friends and that Grey, who is much smaller than Finley, is insecure about her slow physical development. As they talk, we learn that Finley has already gotten “it’ and that “it” is a real pain every month. Grey really wants to get “it” before the summer is over and they start high school.
There are levels of depths to the realism of these characters. Young and silly, the girls talk about staying friends forever. Forever is soon tested when a visitor arrives testing the bond between the girls. This is where the story shifts in theme and tone. As soon as danger is introduced, “it” makes its presence known and changes the dynamic of the entire plot. The process of growing up, of losing one’s innocence always is seen as terrifying and makes victims of young girls. While this story is certainly a cautionary tale, the most important lesson is that the girls learn to trust their own strength.
Eslyn is a great story-teller bringing heart and power to the characters. Mixing horror and fantasy, “Fur” somehow becomes the most appropriate metaphor for emerging womanhood.
Room 104 airs Friday nights at 11:00 pm on HBO.