'Camping' star Juliette Lewis explains why Jandice constantly seeks Kathryn's approval and similarly 'tries to fix other people'
Although she has set out to play the character who is nothing less than trouble, Juliette Lewis explains why she's quite different from her on-screen 'wild child' role.
'Camping' star Juliette Lewis is playing the role of a character who is completely insubordinate, but in reality, Lewis is nothing like her character. The 45-year-old plays the role of the flower child, Jandice, who is an absolute opposite to the uptight, obsessively controlling, Kathryn, played by Jennifer Garner. Jandice, in fact, acts as a foil to Kathryn as the two characters are constantly in a feud of ideologies where Kathryn's grip on the entire group seems to stumble due to Jandice's presence.
As a character, Jandice is a free-spirited woman who lives life to the lees and doesn't mind running naked into the lake for a swim. However, much of it was pretty toned down while working with creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner. Speaking with AV/TV Club, Lewis stated, "That was actually Jenni's direction in the first two episodes. She helped me a lot. And she would push me as you can just do it. She would push me, you know where I would...just because I root into honesty and you know people are capable of all kinds of bizarre behavior and you pull from all those kinds of truths and unlike what people might think, I don't like to make people uncomfortable in group settings."
Jandice is that one character in the show, who has single-handedly brought down all of Kathryn's plans about the camping trip. Ever since her entry to the camp, Kathryn has kept a watchful eye on her for fear that Jandice might just disregard all of her well-thought-out plans. However, with these two polar opposite characters, 'Camping' has brilliantly shifted from the otherwise subjective end of the show, making it a story about all the characters who are involved. Jandice steals the spotlight because she is like the red card who does not quite fit in, but at the same time, she brings the group together where Kathryn horribly fails.
Also, though Jandice might seem to be someone who is nothing but trouble she might also act as a reminder to Kathryn what it's like being a woman in shackles. In fact, Jandice is also a multi-dimensional character. Other than being the life of the camp which was more or less dead under Kathryn, Jandice adds perspective to a lot of things. She isn't someone who will visit a place just for the sake of goodwill, instead, she would rather be somewhere where she is of use and can take charge. It is also noted that a lot like Kathryn, Jandice too does not like to be ruled around- she makes her own rules.
However, at the same time, there is a big drawback to this character. Although Jandice is the flower child, and she appears to be a lot free-minded that Kathryn, she too likes it when people obey her rules. While Kathryn has made it pretty evident, that it's her camp and it's her rules, Jandice's very beatnik way of living is difficult to cope with. While Kathryn, on one hand, teaches everyone that following the rules is the way to living life, Jandice preaches that one's life must be one's own. But does she give people space for that? Maybe, not. Lewis has rightfully stated, "Jandice tries to fix other people, and they think they know what’s best, and they think their way is what’s gonna liberate people from their self-imposed prisons. But what’s under the surface of that type of person is probably their own failures or shortcomings at something that’s more conventional."
Probably it is also that sense of conventional failure, and the lack of skill to manage time since Jandice has been juggling between five jobs. In fact, maybe that very insecurity is the reason why she has thrown herself at the opportunity to go to a camp full of strangers, meet new people, and expectedly heal herself through them. Jandice is also on the constant lookout to get Kathryn's approval, and that indicates that she is not entirely the free-minded being that she often portrays herself to be. Lewis recalls this feature of the character, as she explained, "Jandice’s kinda insecure and kind of reveres Kathryn and wants to be liked, and she so desperately wants to be the girl who is listened to, so she admires Kathryn’s ability to run the show, I think. Even though she’s disrupting it. It’s a fun dichotomy."
In the second episode, we get a look into Jandice's guilt-driven state although very briefly, when she by mistake pushes Kathryn's son, Orvis (Duncan Joiner). Kathryn is immediately taken aback as she snaps at Jandice asking her to stay away from her boy. Jandice does apologize, but she was driven by a subtle sense of guilt when Kathryn refuses to acknowledge her help. Probably in order to get back her lost dignity, Jandice takes up the first chance that she gets to swing around the car and take the rest of the gang for drinking. It should be noted here, that no one else refuses to the idea but gladly joins Jandice for the party when clearly Kathryn is in more need of the gang.
While Jandice is quite on-the-face with her denials and rejections, the others seem to follow by remaining vaguely indifferent to the extremist behavior of both Jandice and Kathryn. Nina-Joy (Janicza Bravo) and Carleen (Ione Skye) mostly remain shut around Kathryn, leaving Jandice to be the only other woman to stand up against Kathryn. However, given the chance, they would both disobey Kathryn in the exact same way as Jandice. There is also the factor of familiarity working here. Since both Joy and Carleen have known Kathryn for quite a long time, it might be a little difficult for them to overlook Kathryn's chronic illness.
However, Jandice is not aware of any of this. Kathryn is just another stranger to her who is obstructing her way to freedom. Jandice is not aware of any of Kathryn's physical ailments, her ideological aggression, or her hysterectomy. However, Joy and Carleen are both pretty well aware of it. In that case, Jandice is not just an antagonist in the show, she could be an entirely different titular character herself as she is the only one who has been presented objectively, without any context to Kathryn. As Lewis has rightly stated, Jandice is nothing like her as Lewis would never go skinny-dipping in front of total strangers, but that is also something that makes Jandice so compelling. She is like no one else, not even the actor who is playing her.