I’m perfectly fine admitting that I never thought that I would be writing this post. I was never a huge fan of the Evil Dead films and as a person who has seen many of her favorite intellectual properties canceled or rebooted with less than stellar results, the absolutely perfect Ash Vs Evil Dead series kinda annoyed me. The tone is spot on, the horror elements are both unique and hilarious, and Ash is the same kind of person he’s always been. This series is proof that reboots can be done, and done well… And almost as if to add insult to injury, Ash Vs Evil Dead accomplishes the very thing that the previous films lacked – interesting and capable female characters.
What? An article arguing that Ash Vs Evil Dead is feminist and contains not one but two notably kickass female characters? Indeed. So here we go.
For those of you not as familiar with the show, when we first meet Ruby Knowby (played by the suspiciously ageless Lucy Lawless) she claims to the be the daughter of Raymond Knowby – the professor in the Evil Dead films who discovers the Necromonicon and Kandarian dagger. I don’t think I would be spoiling too much to say that Ruby’s history is much more, um historical? complicated? spooky? than that.
What makes Ruby a great character is that she’s smart. Smart enough to connect herself to Ash’s past and insert herself into this life. She’s also smart enough to adjust her plans to the circumstances around her. You almost feel shocked when an idiot like Ash gets the better of her, but I think that’s the point. It’s engaging because Ruby is formidable and interesting in her own way. She gets annoyed at Ash but always manages to keep her goal in sight. A well-written villain (and acted – Lucy Lawless is GREAT!) is one that you’re excited to see, love to hate, but also find appealing on some level…even when you know you shouldn’t. Ruby is one of those villains. Oh, and she’s a woman. Well done, TV show.
The other awesome female character in this show is Ash Williams’ friend/teammate Kelly Maxwell. In many ways, Kelly starts off as a basic “strong female character.” She puts Ash in his place when he tries to flirt with her and is basically angry all the time and bitterly sarcastic. In a lot of shows, this would have ticked off all the boxes for their required strong female elements, but over the seasons of the show, Kelly has proven to be more than that. Her attitude is linked to her life and past rather than just it just being a personality trait. Better yet, she even becomes more comfortable showing other parts of her personality including extreme loyalty to her friends and loved ones.
Kelly becomes even more interesting as a character when you compare her with her counterpart on Ash’s team, Pablo Simon Bolivar. Rather than just having Kelly fill in what may be considered the more feminine role on the team, most of that role sits comfortably with Pablo. Kelly is the one who takes to fighting more naturally and it’s Kelly who formulates a lot of strategy and planning. Additionally, when it comes for the group to take a break, Kelly is the one who grows restless with no demons to battle while Pablo is perfectly content to stay in town with Ash to both support him and set up a food cart. Pablo is the one serving as the emotional heart and team cheerleader. Best of all, it isn’t a bad thing and he still is a force to be reckoned with on his own.
I personally find it very exciting to find awesome ladies in surprising places. Ash Vs Evil Dead proves that you can not only reboot an older male-focused property but also update the story to include more women characters who serve as much more than plot devices. There are rumors that the third season of this show could very well be the last, so if you’re a fan of kickass ladies and inventive horror action sequences, you should be getting your hands on this in hopes that the series might continue a bit longer. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it. I certainly was.
This week, I am adding another name to our roster of Kickass Fictional Ladies. Click here if you are interested in checking out our past inductees into this prestigious group.
I realize this is a no-brainer for those of us who have been watching Game of Thrones this season, but let’s be honest, she’s been getting a lot of buzz lately. Why? Because she is just so great for so many reasons. And here are just a few of them:
She is honorable: I know that some of the most intriguing characters are villians or of questionable morality, but I love Brienne because she just wants to do good in the world. I have really been won over by her desire to be a great knight and truly devote her life to one of honor. Sansa Stark turns down her first offer of protection and yet Brienne is so good to her word and the promise she gave to Lady Stark that she simply doubles down on her efforts and waits to find Sansa so she can offer her protection a second time. And yet, during this chase after Sansa, Brienne never oversteps her boundaries. She is never unnecessarily threatening and strives to make her behavior a model for others. Brienne has a lot to prove and that drive and earnestness make her just wonderful to watch. You want great things to happen for her because she has worked hard enough to deserve them. Also, thanks to some recent info from Martin, I dare say that her noble spirit is even in her blood.
She is a complete character: In my travels, I have run across the misconception that in order for a female character to be considered “good” (translation: feminist) she must be strong and perfect. The thing is that while there are many versions of women characters out there who are strong, they can’t hold a candle to Brienne for the simple reason that when a character’s only trait is that she is strong, she is also flat. I love Brienne because mixed in with her strength is a believable vulnerability. She makes mistakes, she worries about doing the right thing, and she cares so much more than she is probably willing to admit. A strong female character is great and gives us ladies something to enjoy and in some ways look up to. But a strong female character who can also be seen as human, is not only someone we can look up to, but also relate to. And trust me, it is much more powerful to be inspired by someone who has overcome a lot of the same challenges you have yourself. It’s OK if you need to work at it, because so does Brienne.
Positive body image: Brienne of Tarth is played by the charming and gorgeous Gwendoline Christie. This is important because Brienne’s body is the real body of Christie. Christie has found herself experiencing a lot of the same hardships that Brienne does when she encounters other’s expectations of conventional beauty and feminism. Christie is naturally 6’3″ and has openly discussed her own body image issues and how she has been able to use her own life experiences to influence her performance as Brienne.
Christie was so inspired by Brienne’s story that she took it upon herself to learn about Brienne’s quest to be a knight by experiencing it herself. This means that she not only trained in sword-fighting and riding before starting her role, but she gained a decent amount of muscle to make her body fit the character even more accurately. Remember what I said about devotion? Seems like Christie was born to play this part.
I realize that I might be preaching to the choir here, but I think it’s ok to just bask in the glow of something you love for a while. And that is what I’ve decided the comments section to sharing the love (or not if you have a reasonable argument). Have at it then!
Welcome to the latest installment of Kickass Fictional Ladies, our ongoing series highlighting some of our favorite female characters from literature, film, television, and anywhere else we may find them. The Red Menace started us off with an atypical princess, Tiny Doom brought in one of the lead characters from a space Western, and Smalerie reminded us that anime can produce truly kickass ladies. So now it’s my turn to shine the spotlight on a deserving character. To the surprise of no one, my choice comes from the world of animation. Introducing Kickass Fictional Lady number four: Toph Beifong.
I bring you the second in what we hope is a series on Kickass Fictional Ladies. You may remember when The Red Menace brought you the first post about Princess Eilonwy, from the Chronicles of Prydain. Well, it’s time to share another lady who we see as a strong female character.
Warning: this post contains minor spoilers for the Firefly television series and the Serenity movie……
Those of you who know me in real life may be surprised that I didn’t pick Buffy Summers (the Vampire Slayer) for my first foray into this feature. I still like Buffy, and much as Buffy kicks ass, and as important a character as she was to me in my teens and 20’s, I find that now that I’ve reached Ladyhood, it’s Zoe who’s caught my attention.
Introducing a new feature in which we acknowledge some of the great ladies of fiction – real strong female characters. Let’s start with someone who might be a little unexpected:
Who: Princess Eilonwy, she of the red-gold hair (one of the many things Disney messed up about her characterization)
Where’s she from?: The Chronicles of Prydain, a five-book Newbery-Medal winning fantasy series by Lloyd Alexander
What’s the deal?: If you’ve ever seen Disney’s terrible adaptation of The Black Cauldron, you’ve been introduced to the Eilonwy above, but let me tell you, that gives you no idea of who this young lady really is. She’s a princess, sure, but that’s the least of who she is, and the least of what she’s interested in being.
We first meet her in The Book of Three, the first book in the Prydain series, when she saves Taran, who is the main protagonist of the books. You read that right – the princess saves the hero from capture. At the time, however, he has no idea she’s a princess – she doesn’t bother with telling him since to her, it seems unimportant. Described as having red-gold hair (not the blonde Disney felt she should have) and blue eyes, Eilonwy is stubborn, hot-tempered, and sarcastic. She’s also fond of rather unusual similes, particularly when she’s perturbed. “I don’t like being called ‘a girl’ and ‘this girl’ as if I didn’t have a name at all. It’s like having your head put in a sack.”
She’s also an enchantress, from a long line of the same, and possesses a small golden sphere that she refers to as her bauble, which she uses to create a magical light that saves her skin (and that of her companions) numerous times.
Why is she so kick-ass? When I was a kid, I was completely obsessed with fairy tales, fantasy, and sword-and-sorcery type adventures. In many of the traditional tales, princesses are either mere objects of a quest, something to be rescued and won by the prince, or at the best are on the fringes of all of the action. In Eilonwy, for the first time I found a character who reminded me of myself – a little stubborn, prone to walking around barefoot, and right in the middle of the action – because she wouldn’t have it any other way. It didn’t hurt that she was a postively-portrayed red-head, either. (The piece on Anne Shirley is forthcoming). Eilonwy could do magic, but she could also swing a sword, shoot a bow and arrow, and think her way out of a jam. That’s the kind of Disney Princess I can get behind.
A final piece of wisdom from the lady herself:
“I don’t believe people should be allowed to come stamping into other people’s dreams without asking first,” Eilonwy said, with some vexation. “There’s something impolite about it. Like walking into a spider web when the spider’s still using it.”