Thursday, August 09, 2012

Lois Lane, Princess Leia and more on difficult women

I found the best new cable channel ever. The Hub. It’s rerunning old classics from the 80s and 90s and re-airing from start to finish The New Adventures of Lois and Clark.
I’m not going to lie. I loved this show. In hindsight I can see that it might have had a lot to do with Dean Cain walking around without his shirt on for a good chunk of the show.

1995 Dean Cain is my new boyfriend. I know… my boyfriend situation is getting quite complicated.

But in looking at this show in all its corniness and bad effects, at its heart it’s a love story. A well told story over a pretty big arc. They meet, they become friends, we have the typical conflict of the other love interests, but the biggest conflict is the duality of Lois’s feelings for Clark and Superman. One is her friend. The other is the man she wants. Good stuff.

But what I’ve also been enjoying about the show again is realizing Lois is not an easy character. She is in fact a very driven professional. She’s difficult, competitive, hates to lose and is immersed in her work. Clark however seems to appreciate all of this and loves her. Crazy – but he’s truly a beta to her Alpha. Which is then contradicted by his Alpha qualities as Superman. Real good stuff.

And it’s always at that point where you think you might not like this character that she does something goofy or silly or is humbled in a way that helps the audience to connect to her.

I remember getting into an argument with my sister-in-law (I was like 12) over Princess Leia for the same reasons. My sister-in-law said she was basically a bitch. I pointed out it’s not easy leading the rebellion against the Empire! Is she exactly grateful when Luke and Han save her from jail? No. But she’s got other things on her mind. Her planet has been destroyed, she needs to escape with the plans for the Death Star… save the rebellion. I mean give a girl a break.

It makes me realize how I’ve always had a thing for difficult heroines. I like it when they are edgy. I’m okay with ambition. Leadership to me is an amazing quality, and not something to be frowned upon because it doesn’t always make for a sweetness and light heroine.

As women we need to stop worrying so much about how likeable we need to be. Especially with our characters because they are fictional! They can’t really tick anyone off.

And the men we write for them, who really deserve them... well let’s hope they are all just like Superman.

Without his shirt on.


Anonymous said...

I love difficult, driven women. My favourite TV shows, Battlestar, Firefly, even Mad Men, have the most wonderful women who are complicated and difficult and utterly absorbing.
Loved this post. It made me smile.

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Steph. I love the difficult/interesting heroines best too.

To Sinead's list I'd add Nurse Jackie--sure she's a drug addict cheating on her husband, but she has a good heart and is really, really good at her job; the first few seasons of Weeds (before she was all about sleeping with everyone to keep safe/get ahead) and Saving Grace.

Now, on Saving Grace the Holly Hunter character is all about sleeping with everyone, too, but on that show it fit her character and it was clear how she was using both sex and booze as self-medication for all her pain. Now that I'm thinking about it.. I don't get why that show didn't do better.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I love this post! Leia was difficult - and that's why Han loved her.
I never watched that Superman but I remember it being around and teh Dean Cain frenzy it created.

Maureen - I was just thinking (I'm at a cottage with my mom, aunt and cousin - all nurses - all compassionate, nurturing but hard core realists) I am going to do a nurse heroine, you can't make a nurse too terribly difficult...nurse jackie. Truly one of the most difficult compelling characters on TV right now.

hey your headshot is AWESOME!

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