I Sez: Goodbye, Katie Holmes
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 21, 2008
You know the holocaust? No longer quite the exact opposite
I remember a Peanuts strip from when I was a kid where Linus is shown crying at what he was watching on TV. Lucy asks him what’s wrong, and he proclaims to her, “ANNETTE FUNICELLO HAS GROWN UP!!!!” I didn’t really understand what was making him so upset at the time–partly because I had no idea who the fuck Annette Funicello was–but a week or so ago, I caught an ad for the new season of misfit ABC program Eli Stone, now apparently featuring one Katie Holmes. It’s hard to explain what struck me about Katie’s appearance so–she’s still definitely Katie Holmes, no doubt–but it was like I was seeing an entirely new version of her. She’s thinner than I remembered, and she has very short hair now. Her clothing looks more like it’s designed to conceal her figure than to enhance it. She looks like she belongs more on the cast of Criminal Minds than on Gossip Girl, or even Grey’s Anatomy. Yup, there’s no doubt about it: Katie Holmes has grown up.
For most, Holmes will forever be associated with Dawson’s Creek, the show that blended the melodrama and heatthrobbiness of Beverly Hills 90210 with the suburban trappings and over-thinking of My So-Called Life to become the definitive teen drama of the turn of the millennium. On it, Holmes played Joey, who in classic teen drama fashion, was cast as the role of the platonic friend to the title character, but became the show’s de facto sex symbol, but far out-charming the hussier Michelle Williams to capture the nation’s heart. She was perky, she used big words, she cared about her grandparents, she was cuter than a million sneezing pandas. And she was forever hanging on the arm of Dawson, playing make believe with him, sneaking into his bedroom at night. She was the fantasy of just about every adolescent male who realized they wouldn’t have much to talk about with Pamela Anderson after sex.
But too often, people forget there was more to Holmes than Joey Potter. Well, not much more, of course–she played a variation of sorts of Joey’s character in just about every movie she was in until she figured out the only way to escape the character for good was to flash her tits as a femme fatale in 2000′s The Gift (just in time for the rise of the DVD format, uncoindcidentally). But for someone like me, who didn’t realize the possibility of the teen drama format until late high school, the Holmes I grew up was the dreamgirl Katie of The Ice Storm, the innocent raver Katie of Go, the slightly badasser Katie of Disturbing Behavior (and the video for The Flys’ super-underrated “Got You (Where I Want You)“). She never branched out too much, but as long as she kept smiling and kept being slightly vulnerable, who would want her to?
Even as the millennium turned, and Holmes started diversifying a little, she still kept that glimmer of the Katie we knew. She played self-righteous lawyer and moral center Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins, but in her heated bantering with Christian Bale were unmistakable echoes of her frustrations with Dawson once upon a time. She played a cutthroat, double-crossing journalist in Thank You For Smoking, but when she smiled seductively at Aaron Eckhart, it was the same mouth-corner smile that she flashed at drug-dealing Timothy Olyphant at the end of Go. And yeah, she had that whole debacle with the eventual Mr. Holmes, some loser who got her to go wacky-religious and chow down on some placenta or some such. But even that felt just like another adolescent travail for Katie, a bright, confused girl just looking for her place in the world.
But after watching tonight’s Eli Stone, there can’t be anymore doubt about it–Katie Holmes is now an adult. It’s fair enough–she’s almost 30, which is adult by default by most standards. But she kind of carries herself like an adult now, world-wearier, more confident, no longer the doey-eyed, wistful girl waiting for all that life had to offer. And that’s OK, I guess–I’m not 13 anymore either, pissed off at my parents for not letting me see Go in theaters, and Katie’s still pretty adorable as a post-post-adolescent. Nonetheless, there’s no question that a little part of me died upon viewing Ms. Holmes in this new light. If she has now officially grown up, then I guess I can’t be far behind. And in the meantime, no more leaving my window open at night.