Women in television, pt 2

(I am continuing my discussion about females in television…)

I like a good procedural. There is something about them. They tend to be neat and tidy, the mystery gets solved. The bad guy gets caught. The good guys win out the day. Sort of like my favorite types of movies, action movies. Except procedurals can do this in under an hour, a feat that no action movie has yet captured. I’ve tried my fair share of them. Some are just too creepy (Criminal Minds) or too boring (Leverage) or I get several seasons in and something leaves a very bad taste in my mouth so I go look ahead on the wikis and realize that this is just spelling trouble. (This method hasn’t failed me when I got behind in Grimm and Castle.) In fact, the procedural that I’ve somehow managed to stick with despite its flaws is Bones. (I keep meaning to pick up Rizolli and Isles to watch, but keep being distracted by Project Runway.)

Both Bones and Castle revolve around the ‘job oriented’ female role that solve crime. Temperance “Bones” Brennan is a forensic anthropologist and Kate Beckett is a murder detective. These are both very strong, very intelligent women who had to work hard in fields dominated by men to get where they are. Regardless of the series being named Castle for the main male protagonist Richard Castle, the viewers know that the series really revolves around the women in Richard’s life, his muse, Kate, his mother, Martha and his daughter, Alexis. There is also Laney Parish, Kate’s best friend and the M.E. for the precinct and Victoria Gates, the tough as nails police captain. There are plenty of strong females to choose from.

The series Bones also revolves around Temperance, her friends, co-workers (often the same thing) and interns and primarily her working relationship with Seeley Booth. Bones has more strong female characters outside of Temperance. There is her best friend Angela who is there for emotional issues (I’ve learned things from Angie). There is Cam, her boss. There are the rotating interns, though there are more males than females among them. There is also the DA, Caroline.

Both series have strong female characters going for it. Ones that stand up for themselves. They have life goals and plans and the men in their life are nice, but not necessary. So, why did I stop watching Castle, but continue with Bones?

It really came down to how the showrunners handled their characters in crisis. At the end of Season four of Castle, Beckett was put at a rock bottom state by the showrunners. Instead of sticking to her ideals and being the woman that we had spent four seasons worth of show time with, Kate Beckett instead was written to go to Castle and say that Castle was completely right and she was completely wrong. This lead to the next half of a season of Kate questioning whether or not she and Castle should be together due to their financial and supposed social disparity. And whether or not Castle was truly right and Kate was truly wrong was quickly sidelined for this soap opera-ish, high school feeling plot line that didn’t end until Alexis was kidnapped and by then, I didn’t care anymore. I felt insulted that my intelligence and that a female character like Kate Beckett was reduced to this emotionally at high school level moron when she’d never exhibited such traits before.

Whereas, when Temperance faced a crisis and was close to rock bottom, while she sought Booth’s comfort, she didn’t give up the core of who she was to do so. And in the continuing seasons, when Temperance and Seeley sought to build a family together and decide on things like job versus home and house buying and where Christine should go to kindergarten, Temperance never abandoned the core of who she was as a character. They may have argued, but they also compromised based on each other’s values. If something is important to Seeley, Temperance would consider doing it because what is important to Seeley is also important to her. She didn’t question whether or not she and Seeley should be together in a high school angst ridden way. They worked together. They were forming a family together. She didn’t see how there was much difference. They got along at work. So why couldn’t they get along as a couple? (We know it doesn’t work like that, but logic!)

Now, there will be some who argue that Temperance having a baby was against her character and they liked the fact that she was an outspoken advocate for not having children, on the other hand, I also see Temperance feeling she has a duty to pass on her genetics in hopes of passing on her intellect. (Not that this really works, but you get the idea.) She is very logical in her thought processes, so once she was pregnant, I couldn’t see her terminating it. She never exhibited a great deal of maternal emotions after either.

Two words: Character consistency.

Procedurals don’t all have to revolve around solving crime. Some shows are more of “monster” or “crisis” of the week variety. The show The Librarians I think falls under “crisis” of the week. Despite the title, the Librarians really isn’t about the four librarians, but it is more about their guardian and protector, Eve. But the title The Guardian was already taken and the television show is continuing in the universe of some made for TV movies in the vein of Indiana Jones, “The Librarian and the…” The idea is there is a Library that is a holding vault for magical artifacts and original edition books and The Librarian is the keeper of it and goes out and collects artifacts for safekeeping so those with villainous intent can’t get their hands on them. And The Librarian, who is generally a genius of some sort, needs to have a Guardian since, geniuses can’t always be counted on to act rationally and save themselves when they are in the throes of intellect. The series starts off with The Library choosing a new Guardian in the form of Eve and they discover that the villains of the season are killing off those that have potential to become the next Librarian. So, plot happens and the new Guardian is left to train up four apprentice Librarians so to speak, while The Librarian goes off to do his own adventures. She, the Guardian, and the apprentice Librarians end up having their own adventures as she ‘trains’ them to survive.

(I find this whole concept refreshing, perhaps it is the appeal of Ghostbusters, where the nerds can also be action heroes and save the day. The Librarians doesn’t leave me with the slimy aftertaste of Ghostbusters however.)

What I liked about this show is the use of a female protector rather than a male as we normally see in shows such as this (or movies for that matter, the Terminator anyone) and that Eve is smart enough to bring more than just brawn to the table as she deals with a group of ‘geniuses.’ She has to be, at times, the social glue that keeps them all together and interface with those they come in contact with. What was really nice about this show that unlike with Killjoys, her love interest, the Librarian, wasn’t around so by force, Eve couldn’t be reduced to a love interest role. If she often played the role of the fool of the Tarot deck, it was to get the apprentice librarians who play the role of the Pope, the intellect card, to get their head out of theory and into the moment. Which if you have been around any artistic or intellectual types, one knows that sometimes getting them to do anything but talk is like herding cats.

Eve had her flaws. There were times she most certainly didn’t want to be there. She had a short temper and would rather use her gun to solve problems. The lack of clear planning often annoyed her. Along with the Library’s tendency to reorganize any space she tried to make for herself back to the way it was before she rearranged it.
The story as the Librarian stands wouldn’t be the same without Eve, as they actually showed in one episode where Eve visited four different timelines where she died in her role as the Guardian protected the four apprentices and how things went horribly wrong in those universes.

I can only hope that the Librarians continues in this vein and in the second season doesn’t reduce Eve to the role of a love interest.

(Once again, to be continued…)


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