And not because Lucy Lawless looked hot in leather… well, not just because she looked hot in leather. Heh. Every week, we got to see a woman kick ass, be aggressive and strong and intelligent while (occasionally) showing her vulnerable side. Xena was my first real female tv role model and I watched her and Gabrielle religiously every week. Sure, it was cheesy, but the stories were great, the action was great and, best of all, the characters evolved over time. Xena started out as a warlord, turned into a vigilante and ended up a true, self-sacrificing hero without losing what made her Xena.
I woke up this morning at 5:20 a.m. thinking about the role of women in tv (and don’t ask how, because I was actually dreaming about Monroe from Grimm being a plumber for President Bartlett (West Wing) and things going horribly wrong as they are wont to do on both shows with explosions and… anyhow).
There I was at wayyy too early in the morning with my brain going a million miles an hour bemoaning the lack of kickass women on tv. I’m not talking about intelligent or strong-willed women, we’ve got those with Gina Torres on Suits and Kerry Washington on Scandal, among many others. I’m talking about strong, aggressive women who own their sexuality and aren’t afraid of men in any way, shape, or form, nor worried about pleasing them in any fashion.
Here’s the list of kickass women as I know it right now: Grace Parks (Hawaii 5-O), Rebekah Staton (Spy), Anna Silk (Lost Girl), Daniela Rauh (NCISLA), Cote de Pablo (NCIS), Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Danai Gurira and Laurie Holden (Walking Dead), Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs – although imo the character’s too whiny to really be kickass) and, much too briefly, Jamie Ray Newman (Grimm). (And don’t you just love how she got killed off just as she started to show some depth? I miss her, too.) That’s a total of nine women (not all of them lead roles, either) on tv who can beat up anyone they want, if they wanted to do so. Nine. Out of how many hours of programming on television? (And yes, I’m sure I’ve missed some, but I stand by the lack of this type of role)
I watch a lot of tv but for the life of me, I can’t understand where the women went. Yes, H’wood is run mostly by men and yes, most of the writers are men, but you don’t have to be a woman to write one. Case in point? Joss Whedon. And I know things go in phases, but right now all I see on tv are damsels in distress, power broker types, and teen girls who want to kick ass, but are way too emo to pull it off.
Where’s Buffy’s successor? Or Xena’s? Or Starbuck’s? (Battlestar Galactica has been over for, what, 4 years now?) I’d love to see another Ivanova (Babylon 5) who could kick ass because she was a soldier, but chose when to do so on her own terms. It’s not enough that there’s only a handful of this type of role and it’s certainly not right that none of them are the lead character (except Piper, but again, whiny), but supporting roles, even if prominent ones.
I know my little blog post won’t change anything. I know I’m just pissing in the wind here, but you can bet your ass that my fictional women can kick the ass of any man on tv and they make no apologies for it. Here’s hoping that someday soon, the girls growing up now will get their very own Xena and know that it’s okay to lead with your fists, as long as you have the brains (and sword) to back it up.