Episode 62: TV Lady Chains

We talk about what’s good and bad about women in TV

Topics Discussed and/or Spoiled

Cthulhucon, HP Apology, Zoobilee Zoo, Bunheads, Gilmore Girls, Orphan Black, Gilmore Guys, Strong female characters, Dollhouse, Buffy, Fringe, BSG, Farscape, Daredevil, Babylon 5, and Game of Thrones.

Our outro is Debs & Errol’s That’s What I Want In a Girl


Geekually Yoked is a proud member of the Crossover Nexus

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3 Responses to Episode 62: TV Lady Chains

  1. Rachel Kolar says:

    It’s a Kolar numbered list! Because I was listening to this, jumping up and down and going, “Ooh! I have thoughts! I have thoughts!”

    1) Anime is so far ahead of western animation here–there are entire genres of girl anime (and I have to very strongly recommend Madoka Magica and Revolutionary Girl Utena again)–but it does tend to be ghettoized. I don’t know if it’s ghettoized over there, but over here, heaven help you if you’re a guy fan and you like magical girl anime. My friend Kelly had an interesting point with some of the anti-magical girl backlash, though, and your discussion of Gilmore Girls reminded me of it. She pointed out that when people talk about magical girl anime being stupid, they say that it’s because their powers derive from girl stuff like flowers and makeup and unicorns and what have you. When it’s boy anime, the powers derive from fighting, so it’s cool. The only reason to think this is if you think girl stuff is inherently more stupid than fighting.

    2) Vis a vis strong female characters, have you read this essay? It’s amazing. http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters The short version: the reason that “strong female characters” are so godawful is because in your average movie, there’s only one female character who has to stand for all womankind. She has to be strong in every way someone can be strong–physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.–because if she’s not a fighter, we’re saying no women can fight, and if she’s got a serious character flaw (say, abrasiveness), we’re saying all women have that flaw. If there’s more than one woman, you can have one who’s abrasive and one who isn’t. If you have a Strong Female Character, she has to be flawless. It’s something that I’m actually finding really helpful when trying to work more people of color into my writing–if my black protagonist is stubborn to a fault and not the sharpest knife in the drawer, I can make sure that her sweet, nerdy foil is also black so that I don’t have to worry about inadvertently making sweeping racist statements.

    3) Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aang is our protagonist, but Katara and Toph are tremendously important, and our antagonists in season 2 are a trio of teenage girls. Katara and Toph never really get a strong friendship, but then, neither did Aang and Sokka. Korra was a good show with a female protagonist, but I wasn’t entirely pleased with the female friendships. By the last season, Korra’s strongest relationship was with her female best friend, but things got problematic IMHO. (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS! They end the show by becoming a couple. The creators say that it felt like it was evolving organically from their friendship, and I can appreciate that they went where the story took them, but I was really bothered by the sexualization of their friendship. It wouldn’t have bothered me if it weren’t the only really strong female friendship between non-villains in the entire Avatar universe, but it was, so of course they can’t just be friends. Sigh. Of course, the creators couldn’t really win here, because if they’d kept them as friends, it would be erasure, but oy.)

    4) Part of why YA is such a great place for female characters is because there’s a general understanding that girls read more than boys do. In TV and movies, there’s the assumption that your default viewer is a guy, so the default protagonist with whom he empathizes is a guy, too.. In books, the default reader is a girl, and so is the default protagonist.

    5) I LOVE SHOW MARGAERY. The scene with her, Joffrey, and the crossbow was just jaw-dropping.

  2. Naomi says:

    I want to check in with you, Rachel, about how you think Daredevil has progressed past the first episode.

    And other Rachel- thanks for point 3. My 9yo is just getting into Avatar and I’m starting to realize this is one of the ones I want to enjoy with her, not just get the play-by-play.

  3. Tom Kolar says:

    Hey, I finished this and Lady Chains got me thinking- I’ve been meaning to offer some show recommendations for a while. The Flash is a really fun superhero show (I know we’re at superhero overload but this one actually made a new space in the superhero TV medium by actually being more fun and comic book-y than most of them. It’s got a talking psychic gorilla as a season big bad!). I think you’d enjoy it, especially the relationship between Barry and his mentor, but the character of Iris West would make your lady chains play jingle bells. It’s just…ooof . It’s bad.

    On a more positive note, have you though of giving Star Wars: Rebels a try? It’s big and pulpy and full of space opera daring-do. The main 2 characters are male, but I think you’d really dig the character of Hera, the captain of the team’s ship. So it is a space opera with a female captain! Just not, like, the protagonist.

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