Books and film depicting the quarter-life crisis ?
February 1, 2010 8:12 PM   Subscribe

Going through what some mefis describe as the quarter-life crisis, I'd like to read about or watch others going through it as well. Any suggestions ?

I'm looking for literature (fiction or non-fiction) and films [or even TV shows] with main characters who experiencing are an American quarter-life crisis: the young adults who recently graduated from college, in their twenties or early thirties, childless, looking for meaning in life, figure out their passions, perceive that they are struggling, and are coming-of-age.

Ideally, these works would [but I'm not totally opposed to]:
- have a main character who is not in a long-term, serious relationship.
- take place in 1980-present.

(I'll be checking out Green, recommended here). I've seen Adventureland and it's nice although a tad focused on the relationship. (I would nix Before Sunset and Before Sunrise since they both focus a lot on a relationship.)
(Oh, and I did read dave eggers' '...staggering genius' a couple years back, wasn't impressed with it back then).
posted by fizzix to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe this is too obvious, but The Graduate?
posted by k. at 8:16 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reality Bites is the quintessential 90s quarter-life crisis flick.
posted by donajo at 8:17 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kicking and Screaming. It's a classic post-college classic. The dialogue is fantastic, and, yes, incredibly annoying to some. It's Baumbach's first and best.
posted by ghostpony at 8:18 PM on February 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, I thought of a really good one: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon.
posted by k. at 8:21 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Generation X.

And Then We Came to The End. (20-somethings at failing advertising agency in Chicago in the late 1990s.)
posted by Mid at 8:22 PM on February 1, 2010


Garden State
posted by magicbus at 8:24 PM on February 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the Graduate is probably going to be the go to choice, but I dont think it meets your chronological parameters
posted by Think_Long at 8:24 PM on February 1, 2010


This might be a little odd, but I'm in that phase right now and watching When Harry Met Sally reminds me that you may predict you'll be one way (career-wise, relationship-wise, whatever), and end up another, but you'll still be fine nevertheless. Nothing you decide now condemns you to one way of life forever. Letting a chance slip by doesn't mean you've lost it permanently.
posted by sallybrown at 8:29 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Talk to me! I'm going through one right now!

But seriously, High Fidelity is a good one. It's technically British, but I think the differences in that respect are minimal. I'm not sure if it's too relationshippy, though.
posted by inmediasres at 8:29 PM on February 1, 2010


Thanks for all of the answers, keep them coming !

I found a thread [buried in my favorites] that had some suggestions too [it reminded me of Bright Lights, Big City - which is great and probably deserves a re-read since it's been 5-6 years since I last read it].
posted by fizzix at 8:34 PM on February 1, 2010


"Office Space" is comedy, but it's definitely about "what am I doing with my life??" feelings.

A lot of Judd Apatow films are about these "man-child" characters. I would watch "The 40 year-old virgin" or "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" - they both have to do with relationships, but they're very funny and on-topic otherwise.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:50 PM on February 1, 2010


You know what is a great book? "A Long Way Down," by Nick Hornby. It's about four people (not all young, but two are), struggling to figure out their lives.

I personally find it to be a far better book than "High Fidelity," and by far the best thing Hornby has written.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:53 PM on February 1, 2010


You should watch the sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
posted by purpleclover at 9:14 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was a web series called Quarterlife on exactly this topic, which was surprisingly well done (though it bombed when it made it to real TV).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:15 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


NBC had a made-for-internet show called quarterlife a while back. I think the main character does enter a relationship at some point, but the show's definitely got all this: the young adults who recently graduated from college, in their twenties or early thirties, childless, looking for meaning in life, figure out their passions, perceive that they are struggling, and are coming-of-age (hence the title!).

Each webisode is only about 8 minutes, so it wouldn't take much time to figure out if this is what you're looking for. I thought the show was pretty well done.
posted by prettaygood at 9:22 PM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


bah! too slow! should've previewed; sorry.
posted by prettaygood at 9:23 PM on February 1, 2010


The Devil Wears Prada? (the movie, specifically)
posted by tantivy at 9:24 PM on February 1, 2010


I found Jung's concept of Individuation to be most helpful during this frustrating time.
posted by ikahime at 9:28 PM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Film: Walking and Talking.
Book: The Gum Thief. This one's a twofer: one character's undergoing a quarter-life crisis, and the other's undergoing a midlife crisis.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:16 PM on February 1, 2010


The movie Funny Ha Ha has everything you're looking for.
posted by bethist at 4:54 AM on February 2, 2010


It's a sitcom, but Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place fits the profile, and is amazing.
posted by kall at 6:55 AM on February 2, 2010


Seconding Coupland's Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (in which it's specifically called the "mid-twenties breakdown" which may be another useful search term).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:45 AM on February 2, 2010


The Korean movie Take Care of My Cat has a lot of this (gets a little melodramatic toward the end, but it's still good). The characters are all about 20, so maybe a little younger than what you're looking for, but it's still a beautiful look at trying to figure out who you are.
posted by darksong at 9:06 AM on February 2, 2010


Sounds like you're describing The Emperor's Children. It's got mixed reviews, but I really liked it, for the same reasons you list.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:43 AM on February 2, 2010


I will second The Emperor's Children -- I liked it too, I just couldn't think of a way to sum it up here.
posted by Mid at 12:34 PM on February 2, 2010


Into the Wild immediately came to mind. The main character's journey is similar to how I dealt with my quarter-life crisis....different ending of course.
posted by aMeta4 at 2:24 PM on February 2, 2010


500 Days of Summer


Definitely a quarterlife crisis movie, plus it got good reviews and everyone else seemed to like it (though I thought it was a self-indulgent piece of crap).

Both versions of the Office have elements of quarterlife crisis, particularly with the younger characters.
posted by Ndwright at 2:38 PM on February 2, 2010


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