WHY IMPERFECT FEMALE CHARACTERS GIVE ME LIFE 📁
This is my longest list yet, but I believe in it strongly.
- •Like any other human, I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I am ok, sometimes problematic; sometimes I am fully The Worst.Ex: Last night I got hammered on a date. There was crying. He will not be texting me back.
- •I am also a woman. I've lived my whole life bearing society's expectations of femininity. While human imperfection is a genderless, universal truth, the way we interpret our own quirks and failures and the way others perceive them is undeniably influenced by these gender norms.Imagine meeting a woman who smells of BO and, separately, a man who smells of BO. One of these situations would seem more within the realm of normal than the other.
- •I also love television. I LOVE it. TV is important to me. It's a storytelling format unlike any other. Even if a show just lasts one season, that's a lot of hours you spent with those characters, in their world. TV allows us to visit another reality that sheds light on our own. That's why accurate representation is so important.TV characters experience what we experience—joy, frustration, loss, heartbreak, the passage of time—and not just for two hours, like a movie. We get to know them over potentially hundreds of episodes and we see ourselves in them. It's so close to real life that when something is glaringly off, like a lack of racial diversity or even lack of realistic plot development or dialogue, we don't buy into the story anymore.
- •And when I see female characters on TV say or do things that don't reflect the real lives of real women, it's frustrating as hell. What do I mean by 'real women'? No generalizations about the female experience, just this: Women are people and people are not perfect.There are women of every age, race, religion, status level and sexual orientation living amazing, captivating stories. They make up half the population and not one of them is perfect. So for every storyline about a man who doesn't look like a GQ model and fucks up regularly (and there are LOTS, just imagine every Denis Leary character that's ever been on TV), it makes sense that there should be one about a woman as well. Just because it's the truth.
- •Now more than ever I am seeing these realistic women on TV! Annalise Keating on How to Get Away With Murder, Selina Meyer on Veep, Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project, the women of Girls, and Abbi and Ilana on Broad City are just a few examples.Because being a "strong female character" doesn't mean you're perfect. You can be unlikable! A bad mother! Good at your job (Mindy) or really bad at it (Selina)! Yet these characters are still immensely watchable because they are interesting and they remind us of the interesting women we know in real life.
- •But we still have SO much work to do. When female characters who are otherwise very well written always wake up in bed with contoured faces and smokey eyes, I feel betrayed. When badass apocalypse survivors hunt zombies in tattered clothes but still have hairless armpits, I feel betrayed.
- •When a phenomenal story that absolutely needs to be told shortchanges a female character's fascinating storyline for a man's storyline because the writers and producers assume that's what everyone wants to see, I feel really fucking betrayed.This happens all the time but most recently with the reboot of Roots. If you make great female characters and then abandon them, what's the point?
- •Obviously TV is not supposed to look exactly like real life; we watch TV to escape and creators need artistic license to craft engaging stories. But it is an active, ongoing disservice to women to present TV women as facsimiles of the real thing when they often embody these unfair societal expectations that we're trying so hard to shake off.Do you know how many times I have to convince myself that it's ok to go the grocery store without makeup on? Women today, especially young women, have to coach themselves to unlearn a lot of bullshit ingrained in our minds about what we're supposed to look like and how we're supposed to act.
- •TV has the power to help us do that. When I watch Selina Meyer be a vain, myopic bitch of a President with a gigantic pimple on her face, my heart swells with joy. I wouldn't vote for her to run the country, but I want to watch her on TV forever.
- •So to the fictional women of TV, in roles minor and major, on comedies and dramas, single and multicam, I say this: please be yourself. Whoever that is. Lie, cheat, succeed, fail, have a baby or don't. Follow your dreams or wallow in self pity. Let every action you take reveal something about who you are at this moment in time. No one is perfect.