Night in the Woods filters the world through the perspective of the naïve Mae as a way to carefully unravel and critique nostalgia and the privilege that accompanies it, steadily undercutting its own autumnal aesthetic of warm, homespun imagery as concealing the underlying hurt that the protagonist fails to see clearly. The very notion of a homecoming depends on one’s ability to embark on something new, and the privilege again to return home once more. For Mae’s childhood friend Bea, there’s no alternative to Possum Springs: she’s stuck there. Like Life is Strange’s Chloe Price, Bea grapples with the recent loss of a parent and feels as though her future is slipping from her grasp while her friend is able to escape town for school. We learn that the sickness and death of Bea’s mother has resulted in unpayable medical debts, the loss of her beloved childhood home, and a jaded father who lacks the emotional connection that Bea so desperately needs. She is overwhelmed with work at her father’s small hardware business and undervalued for her efforts that miraculously keep the store afloat. And so, as Deirdre Coyle succinctly observes, Bea is tired. The passage of time is felt differently across social classes; Mae’s idleness and leisure is a luxury that Bea cannot afford.
Read the full column at Haywire Magazine.