Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pleasant surprise

Usually, I dislike female characters on TV... Lana Lang on "Smallville," every girl on "90210," "Melrose Place," and (uck!) "Sex in the City" to name a few off the top of my head. They're unusually vapid and self-centered and completely obsessed with guys most of the time... and I could probably say the same thing about "Desperate Housewives," if I actually was ever bored enough to watch it... And by and large, female characters on network television can be easily categorized into the virgin, vixen or mother archetypes. But this Fall season, I tell you! There are some fantastic, role-model worthy female characters in the new offers from network TV. There's "Dr. Temperance Brennan, PhD," based on real-life forensic anthropologist Dr. Kathy Reichs, PhD, on "Bones." She's a forensic anthropologist who is obviously brilliant, very professional and doesn't take crap from other (living) people. All of her coworkers seem to be trying to get her to lighten up, but she seems to think she's just fine the way she is. Then there's "Dr. Molly Caffrey, PhD" on "Threshold". She's a woman who comes up with contingency plans for end of the world scenarios. Her "Threshold" plan was put in place when something extra-terrestrial began infecting humans. (I also love this show because - other than that it' good - it has a character who is a dwarf, but not comic relief. He's a brilliant scientist and a linguist. Very nice from breaking out of stereotypes. And if all that weren't good enough, Brent Spiner - "Data" on "Star Trek" - is also in this show.) And then there's "Melinda Gordon" on "Ghost Whisperer." She's a newly wed, who co-owns an antique store with her best friend in a small middle-American town. The catch is that she can see and communicate with ghosts and they have a tendency to seek her out at inopportune times. What I really love is that the male characters in all these programs take a backseat to the female stars. There aren't very many programs in television history that that can be said about (I've read academic essays on it for modern American culture classes), so I take that three new characters like this in one season, at least two of whom are shaping up to be as well-rounded as Dana Scully, as a very good sign... Good sign of what exactly? ... That women are perhaps finally being more equally represented in positive roles on television to start. And that they are being cast in roles that many people wouldn't automatically think of a woman doing - such as forensic anthropology and secret government jobs (both fields from what I understand are dominated by men).

But I'm an equal opportunity television watcher... Of the new Fall programs, I'm also watching "Prison Break" and "Supernatural." "Prison Break" only has two characters who are female, and other than that they are both totally all guy shows.

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