Fandom Fun: Teen Girls and BPD
Or The Crown meets Gilmore Girls meets Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
If you didn’t blast through The Crown Season 4 as soon as it dropped a couple weeks ago, what were you even doing? It was by far the most historically inaccurate season to date (from what I’ve read), but MAN was it entertaining.
The unsurprising scene-stealer of Season 4 was Emma Corrin as a young Princess Diana. Actually, in between the last few episodes of The Crown Season 4, I watched the documentary Diana: In Her Own Words because I was so moved by Corrin’s portrayal of the late royal. After watching and reading a variety of things about Diana Spencer, I think I’ve finally figured out where I stand in my opinion of her. While many like to remember her as an almost saint-like figure, I’m well aware that that was not the case. However, in my eyes, Diana was a victim through and through, and I have a few reasons to believe this. And, of course, being who I am, I feel that I can best explain Diana’s predicament through comparisons with some of my favorite TV characters.
Diana as Lorelai: A teenager who never got the chance to grow up normally.
Gilmore Girls’ Lorelai Gilmore famously became a mother at the age of 16. Though her parents were (arguably) willing to help her raise her child, she felt suffocated by their privilege and their strict parenting style. Lorelai ran away and had to figure out how to make a living for herself and her baby as a teenager. Later, as a woman in her 30s (throughout the run of the show), Lorelai displays an unorthodox parenting style, where she and Rory function more like sisters or best friends than mother and daughter. Lorelai often behaves in an immature way, dresses questionably for her age, and in general showcases behavior more akin to that of a teenager than to that of a grown woman. Because of this, many viewers take issue with her character, but I see it a little differently. In my point of view, because Lorelai had to grow up so quickly at such a young age, she never really got the chance to grow up properly. There’s a part of her subconscious that resents not getting to live out the rest of her teenage and early adult years in the “normal” way, without the responsibilities of a child, a job, bills, etc. Because of this, those teenage tendencies creep through while she is helpless to control them.
From my (not super academic) research on Diana, Princess of Wales, I’ve seen many similarities between her and Lorelai Gilmore. Diana, like Lorelai, grew up in a family of immense privilege, but also had a complicated relationship with her parents. She was witness to many brutal fights between her parents as a child, and later had to live through their traumatic custody battle. And just when she became a teenager, finally finding some happiness in life, the Prince of Wales decided to take an interest in her. Diana and Prince Charles got engaged after less than a year of seeing each other. She was 19, and he was 32. Now, this is a pretty serious move for any 19-year-old to make, but you’ve gotta remember…she was going to marry the heir to the British throne. There were no fun and games to all this. Diana’s life changed FUNDAMENTALLY and could never go back to normal. A year later, she became a mother to the future King of the UK and continued losing her grip on her youth. She was, by all accounts, a vivacious and fun person, but the protocols of the royal family do not allow for that kind of behavior — at least not in the ways she might have wanted.
Those of you who know Gilmore Girls: can you imagine Lorelai putting up with all the pomp and circumstance that is necessitated by the office of the Princess of Wales? Absolutely not! But I think that’s basically what Diana was. No, she wasn’t quite as chatty and witty as Lorelai, but she was a woman who wanted to do things her own way, and was never really allowed to. She married into the royal family before she even knew who she was, and suddenly had to dedicate every moment of her life to her country. And, like Lorelai, there was something inside her — like a teenage spirit that never got to go out the way it wanted to — that drove her to do things she maybe shouldn’t have. She grew up too quickly while simultaneously not really growing up at all.
Diana as Rebecca Bunch: Struggling with BPD?
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED FOR CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND, STOP READING! In Season 3, the protagonist, Rebecca Bunch, is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). As seen throughout the first three seasons of the show, the symptoms (which, according to the internet, include insecurity, emotional instability, feelings of worthlessness, and disturbed relationships) were all there in plain sight. Rebecca struggles with this diagnosis initially, but she eventually learns to embrace it and works tirelessly to keep up with her treatment plan. By the end of the series, she’s in a beautiful place mentally, and it’s really rewarding to see.
Once again, my (possibly questionable) research on Princess Diana led me to an interesting theory: Diana may have had undiagnosed BPD. Honestly, from what we know about how she acted, what she said, and how those who knew her perceived her, it kind of tracks. I’m obviously no psychologist, but let’s go down this road anyway.
Most of Prince Charles’ classic retorts against praises of Diana revolved around her behavior at home. Diana was said to be erratic, emotional, and even violent. I guess to Charles this behavior would have been upsetting and even frightening. But knowing what we know now…do you not just pity her? Whether or not it was BPD Diana had, she clearly was mentally ill. She didn’t scream at Charles for fun. She didn’t attempt suicide multiple times because she was bored. She. Was. Unwell. And nobody gave her anything she needed.
I see a connection between Diana’s story and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in that they’re almost like opposite realities of each other. Diana (may have) had BPD, but received nothing but scorn for it. Rebecca Bunch had BPD, but had a wonderful group of friends and coworkers who rallied around her and gave her the love and support she needed to keep going. Sigh. If only Diana had lived long enough to receive some better treatment and to build a new life with people who loved her.
Moral of the story? Fuck the British royal family. Maybe I’ll write more about them another time, but today was Princess Diana’s time to shine. Truly, I encourage you to go watch The Crown Season 4 and Diana: In Her Own Words with these comparisons in mind. Diana was immature because she never got to properly mature. She was volatile because she was struggling with mental illness. I really don’t care that “she was flawed, too”; she was done so dirty by those people. I will never see her as anything but the victim throughout it all.