After much anticipation, the world was finally introduced to the first female Doctor. And, to the credit of the writers, the Doctor accepts the change and immediately moves on to the action. However, being part of a group that always has an eye on how women are portrayed in the world of popular culture, I couldn’t help but want to add my voice to those discussing this “first” for the Doctor Who franchise.
So, I give you a mini review of the first episode of Season 11’s “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.” Buckle up and consider this your spoiler warning.
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.
As promised, the second half of my thoughts on Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale – namely, the differences from the novel and how I felt about them. This will have major spoilers for the series, so if you haven’t watched yet, you might want to bookmark this and come back later.
Modern pop culture is filled with terms that try to describe the media we consume. With new phrases and new definitions emerging all the time, it can be difficult to know what the new terminology actually means, even when you hear it frequently. We Ladies like to provide some clarity by defining some of these commonly heard terms that people may not fully understand. We did it with “Mary Sue” and now we’re tackling the “uncanny valley.”
Welcome our friend and reader, Carolyn Frantz, making a great case for watching Supergirl. Want more? You can find her on Twitter as @cosmic_carolyn. – Ed.
Since this is my very first guest post with the Ladies of Comicazi blog, I’ll begin with a confession: I’m not a hardcore comic fan, and I’m certainly not a purist when it comes to comic universes. Most of my favorite comic books aren’t published by DC or Marvel, so I’m new to both. But I love a good story and good art, and I have a soft spot for heroines that are intelligent, strong, and independent, like Agatha Heterodyne: Girl Genius.
Even so, I’ve fallen in love with the new CBS show Supergirl, and I’m here to tell you why! A friend of mine, Danielle, wrote a feminist ode to Supergirl recently. She made some great points as to what Supergirl is doing right:
- The two most powerful people in National City are women.
- Women can be villains too!
- Women aren’t helpless victims.
- “Girl” is reclaimed as an empowering term.
- Young girls need a female superhero to look up to.
All of these are excellent reasons to watch Supergirl, and I encourage you to check out her article here. But I have a couple of my own feminist* reasons why Supergirl is not to be missed:
Supergirl’s costume is awesome without being overly revealing or sexual. It may seem superficial and counterproductive to focus on our heroine’s outward appearance. But in Hollywood, there’s just no way to escape the male gaze, and its use in advertising (“sex sells”). As a result, what women are wearing/not wearing in Hollywood will always be important. Supergirl needs a kick-butt costume to go with her butt-kicking moves, so dressing her in a tiny leotard isn’t believable. Even fierce female powerhouses like Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas tug at their leotards, and Gabby isn’t even punching villains. Mad props to Supergirl’s wardrobe department for coming up with a cool-looking costume that actually works for Supergirl’s extra-active lifestyle.
Supergirl goes by her real name. In all the Superman universes, including Smallville, Superman goes by Clark in his regular life. Pretty much no one is allowed to call him Kal-El. And let’s face it, Kal-El doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Kara, on the other hand, is a real name on our planet, so Supergirl goes by her real name, both in regular life and when she’s fighting crime at the DEO. A central tenet of feminism is that the way we use language matters, and there is power in naming important people and experiences. Feminist textual analysis often notices when women are named in texts— and when they’re not. Calling a woman by her name is powerful, and Kara claims her given (Kryptonian) name. Which leads into…
Supergirl struggles with her identity, which is something all real women do. By virtue of her frozen-time backstory, Kara has vivid memories of her family and life on Krypton. She lives into her dual citizenship on Krypton and Earth, which is a cultural balancing act. In our (supposedly alien-free) society, people of color experience something similar every day, having to be proficient in white culture as well as the culture from which they come. Women experience this also, living in a man’s world. We have to work to maintain our feminine identities while operating in work spaces and sometimes religions that are male-dominated, and therefore oriented toward the way “old boys’ clubs” work. Hence the glass ceiling. Fortunately, Kara has a supportive boss, Cat, who broke the glass ceiling herself and is willing to help Kara face the same hurdles. Kara also struggles with being adopted. Adopted children struggle with questions of identity all their lives, as illustrated in this poignant letter to the stars of Supergirl from an adoptive mom. Carrie, the author, explains how the media usually portrays adoptive parents inaccurately. Her story illustrates how powerful it is for her daughters to watch a story focusing on an adoptive family that’s more true to life. Even without the adoption dynamic, Kara’s struggles in her family relationships mirror real life. Unlike many shows, which either gloss over the reality of complex family relationships or parody them in the extreme (I’m looking at you, Modern Family!), Supergirl portrays relationships as they often are: complicated, but full of love. Any woman knows that relationships with sisters and mothers can be tumultuous. Supergirl portrays the tensions in these relationships well, while still showing the intense love and loyalty that family brings, adoptive or not. Finally, last but not least…
“Why does this even matter?” you might inquire. I’m glad you asked! Women in this culture are always being told we should diet. Female bodies that aren’t basically twigs are unacceptable in the media, which is why plus-size models are so extraordinary. Women are more likely than men to develop an eating disorder, and young women are especially vulnerable: 86% of those with eating disorders report they began before age 20, and 41% of all 1st-3rd graders want to be thinner. Controlling what women eat, psychologically or otherwise, is a means of controlling and devaluing women’s bodies.
Many TV shows portray women eating salads, discussing diets, and not-eating at dinner tables. Not Supergirl! Kara usually eats very healthy meals, but she’s also shown feasting on favorites like hamburgers, pizza, ice cream, curry, and donuts. Her chow-and-chat sessions on the couch with Alex at the end of a long day are one of the best parts of the show. They’re a chance for the sisters to process all that’s happened, support one another, and be women actually enjoying food on camera. When you think about it, that’s actually pretty rare. While some comedies make women who love food the butt of the joke, Supergirl seizes the opportunity to break that stigma. Kara needs super fuel, and feeding her super-fast metabolism sends a message to young girls that there’s no guilt or shame in calorically supporting their bodies.
By now, hopefully you’ve been convinced to give Supergirl a try if you haven’t watched it yet. The end of the season is especially exciting, particularly with the Flash crossover. If you already love the show, share it with a young girl— or boy!— in your life and plant seeds of empowerment in their hearts.
*Before any men’s rights activists jump on my use of the term “feminist”, my definition of feminism is “the radical notion that women are people”. Any true feminist, in my opinion, believes in the basic equality of all people regardless of sex, gender, race, creed, orientation, etc.
Do you remember about 5-ish years ago when everyone was sending around that music video about a woman who wanted to have carnal relations with Ray Bradbury? For about two weeks, it continued to show up on blogs, twitter feeds and facebook pages. People were wondering who the sassy lady in the video was and those who were particularly enamored of her humor found themselves looking up her other music video and stand-up performances. Well, the name of that sassy lady is Rachel Bloom, and it turns out that someone gave her a TV show. And that makes me happy.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Mon, 8pm, on The CW) tells the story of Rebecca Bunch, a lawyer in NYC who spends all her time working. When faced with a major opportunity for promotion, rather than feeling happy, her anxiety gets the best of her and she flees the office only to have a chance run in with an ex-boyfriend she dated in summer camp when she was a teenager. She has a short conversation with him and then is inspired by the message on an advertisement for butter to leave her life in NY to follow her ex to West Covina, California (only 2 hours aways from the beach!). The show then follows her as she starts a job at a quirky new law firm filled with weirdos (some more lovable than others), makes new friends, and find herself torn between chasing after her ex, Josh or exploring a relationship with handsome bartender Greg (played by Santino Fontana, the voice of Prince Hans in Frozen). Continue reading
The holiday season is here and it’s a great time for animation. Any TV channel with any kind of children’s or family program has a seemingly endless supply of animated specials old and new for viewers to enjoy. Animated specials often become part of our holiday traditions. We wrap presents, eat whatever traditional foods we enjoy, and watch the same specials we’ve been watching since we were kids.
But maybe you’re looking for a change of pace? Maybe you could use some fresh viewing material to accompany Rudolph and Charlie Brown? Perhaps something with a distinctive animation style? I’ve got you covered. Here are three Christmas specials that will delight you with new animated visuals and fresh (and familiar) tales of the season. Continue reading
Anyone who’s read these pages knows that I am a big fan of The Flash, both in comics and the DC Animated universe. This has led to several folks asking me what I thought of the CW’s live action Flash tv show, and to me awkwardly explaining that I hadn’t actually watched it yet. There’s nothing we keep up with on a weekly basis in our household, and we don’t have a DVR, so I can really only watch shows that come to Amazon or Netflix.
Well, that dream is finally realized and Mr. Menace and I watched the entire first season of “The Flash” in the matter of a few weeks. So how does it hold up? Do I still love the fastest man alive, or has my enthusiasm been dampened? Let’s break it down into a few key points. (NB: Generally spoiler-free, but I allude to the overall plot points, because let’s face it – I am actually the LAST PERSON IN AMERICA watching this show. You all know what happened.)
The term “Mary Sue” gets thrown around a lot, in fanfiction circles, in criticism of books, TV shows, and films, and as the name of a well known lady-centric pop culture website. Like many terms born in recent decades, it seems ubiquitous, but not everyone is 100% clear on what it actually means. Who is “Mary Sue”? Where did she come from? Why is calling a character a “Mary Sue” a putdown? Today’s LoC will answer your questions about the nature of the Mary Sue.