What do you do when you realize you’re getting a little long in the tooth for that hipster identity you’ve been sporting your adult life? Take Ana and Joe, your average late thirtysomething thrift-shopping, pop culture ephemera-collecting couple in the inner ring suburb of Ferndale. Today’s hipster would live in an artsy neighborhood of Detroit proper while doing something artisany. Instead, she works at an ad agency while he freelances quirky pieces for the local indie newspaper. They both do a little career upgrade, her with a promotion to a woman-focused sub-agency, and him to a full-time job with benefits at another weekly, only to find that they’ve sold out more than they realized – her main client is a chain of Christian women fitness centers, while his paper is a pennysaver with a solidly unshakeable conservative base, contrary to the job recruiter’s promises. Can Ana and Joe survive this reboot? The Narcissism of Small Differences isn’t making any promises, but the journey is classic Zadoorian, filled with lots of Detroit-iana, classic asides, and two heroes you can’t help but root for.— Daniel Goldin
Joe Keen and Ana Urbanek have been a couple for a long time, with all the requisite lulls and temptations, yet they remain unmarried and without children or a mortgage, as their Midwestern values (and parents) seem to require. Now on the cusp of forty, they are both working jobs that they're not even sure they believe in anymore, but with significantly varying returns. Ana is successful; Joe is floundering; both are in limbo, caught somewhere between mainstream and alternative culture, sincerity and irony, achievement and arrested development. Set against the backdrop of bottomed-out 2009 Detroit, a once-great American city now in transition, part decaying and part striving to be reborn, The Narcissism of Small Differences is the story of an aging creative class doomed to ask the questions: Is it possible to outgrow irony? Does not having children make you one? Is there even such a thing as selling out anymore? More than a comedy of manners, The Narcissism of Small Differences is a comedy of compromise: the financial compromises we make to feed ourselves, the moral compromises that justify our questionable actions, the everyday compromises we all make just to survive in the world. Yet it's also about the consequences of those compromises and the people we become because of them. By turns wry and ribald, kitschy and gritty, poignant and thoughtful, The Narcissism of Small Differences is the story of Joe and Ana's life together, their relationship, their tribes, their work and passions, and their comic quest for a life that is their own and no one else's.