My Favorite Famous Jennys

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The divine Jenny Lewis.

There is just something about finding someone else who shares your name, isn’t there? It is oddly a wonderful surprise that someone else has been walking around responding to the same combination of sounds that’s so personal to you. It’s like someone else has been living at your home address for years and you now have the opportunity to ask them if they’ve noticed the same leaky pipes or how cold the floor gets in the morning. What kind of people are the collective Jennys of the world? Or Emilys? Or Sarahs, for that matter? Can you synthesize down to it’s most basic elements a theory that all people who share a common form of ID are more likely to share a set of characteristics and experiences?

I’m getting way ahead of myself.

Whether you believe in nameology (is that the right “ology” word for this?) or not, I know I always try to suss out whether another Jenny is good enough to share my name. Which I guess is a little unfair given that I am a Genny, not a Jenny. Ya’ know?

Based on absolutely no scientific evidence, and purely my own interpretation of the world that is completely biased, here is what I can tell about Jennys:

-We are funny and give a lot of our time and attention to fun

-We are profoundly weird, I hate to use the Q word, quirky (ew) women. Though I also think that all women think that they are weird in a profound way due to how white, male, masculinity is seen as the norm and the female experience is otherized if it doesn’t fit into a male-centered worldview. BUT ANYWAY….

-We are creative and have a hard time being serious.

Who are some of your famous name counterparts? And, if you can pull together some sort of thesis, what kind of people do you have in your tribe?

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Musician most famous for her band Rilo Kiley, but last year released an amazing solo album, “The Voyager.” Also a former child actress from the 80s. One time, while I was listening to her new album, I had the very embarrassing thought, that “Jenny Lewis understands the loneliness of being a woman,” which, again is very embarrassing, but sort of true. She writes about being a tomboy growing up. Getting older and not having any children (and worrying if she’ll regret it) and other things that are hard to say out loud to yourself, let alone to other people. Can usually be found wearing an Adidas (All Day I Dream About Sports, does anyone else still use that to help them spell Adidas?) tracksuit. I hate the idea that certain women only receive notoriety once they date a famous man, but she did date Jake Gyllenhaal, so “Yas, gorl. Get it.”

Jenny Slate. Comedian. Actress. Most famous for her role as Mona-Lisa Saperstein on Parks and Recreation, her viral video-turned-childrens’ book, “Marcel the Shell,” and her starring role in “Obvious Child.” Said the F word on SNL and got fired (I find this pretty funny and great). Once posted an Instagram picture of her collection of Elena Forrente novels, and I am currently reading, “Story of a New Name,” and think they are the closest thing we are ever going to get to a female-centric Godfather. Went to Columbia. Not afraid of a good poop joke.

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Fartin’ Jenny from John Steinbeck’s, “East of Eden.” So this is obviously not a photograph of a fictional character from a novel. And Fartin’ Jenny (as she is named in the book) is probably so minor a character that most people wouldn’t remember that she is the Madame of the brothel in Salinas. Here is an excerpt from a website that I found, which I think summarizes her completely, “She is known for her sense of humor and congenial nature. She is a “keeper of secrets, a giver of secret loans” (218). People in town know to go to Jenny’s if they are looking for a fun, light-hearted time, since it “jangle[d] with honky-tonk and rock[ed] with belching laughter” (522). (http://sits.sjsu.edu/curriculum-resources/east-of-eden/character-census/) If I remember correctly, the novel says that she ran a place where women could fart and belch freely and laugh without the reproach of men. At the time I immediately thought, “how wonderful.”

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Jenny, the bad girl, from a 1950’s after school special, my Philosophy teacher in high school made us watch to talk about Feminism. Again, this is not a real picture from the film (because FOR THE LIFE OF ME I CANNOT REMEMBER THE NAME OF IT AND IT’S KILLING ME), so I improvised with a vintage picture of a girl on a motorcycle. Jenny was a bad girl who was fast with boys, as the narrator explained, and therefore was going to get a “reputation” for herself. Don’t be like Jenny, the narrator plead. Don’t go out alone at night with boys and smoke cigarettes. Don’t flirt and always listen to your parents. In fact, only date boys who you’re parents approve of first. Never wear your skirts 3 inches above your knees. Never cut your hair or wear dark eye make-up. Never…. Can you see why I decided to root for her?

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Jenni Konner. Writer and Producer on “Girls.” Admittedly, I don’t know much about Jenni Konner aside from her work on “Girls” and her status as Lena Deunham’s bff. BUT from a little IMB snooping, I have sussed out that she was also a writer on “Undeclared” (hence the Judd Apatow connection) AND (more importantly) wrote an episode of “What I like About You,” which is on the better side of the Amanda Bynes ouvré. I also recently subscribed to Lenny.

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