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Females on TV

Okay, considering all the massive fan-fretting before, I`ve seen the question pop up a lot and just now I saw it on TwoP: "Why does fandom have such a strong dislike of female hunters?"

I don`t think it`s quite the hunter part that had most people fretting but I really sat down and tried to think about it. Because there certainly is that chain of reaction: female character - Aaaaaaahhhhh.
So I sat down and examined: Am I too quick with my judgment? Why did I personally have such a knee-jerk reaction when the first spoilers in that direction came up? And why would I - and I admit that - have not felt the same dread if they had announced a male?
This is like an honest attempt to explain and dissect my feelings on that topic so not really rant-y or anything.


I think the question is really two-fold.
Question one: why don`t some people like Jo? Since I can not speak for anybody else, I can give just my reasoning for it. I didn`t like her and I do acknowledge that she had like what, 3 minutes of screentime total? But anyway I found her to be bland, the introduction made me groan for the cliché of it and the actress didn`t have any presence to my eyes. And the writing was somewhat clunky, even with the little bits there were. Especially the end scene, totally out of left field. I was honestly asking myself: "why does she hit on Dean here?"

And it had mostly to do with the one thing I had really hoped for and was very disappointed: the chemistry or rather the lack thereof. I could even see and applaud how they just wouldn`t make googly eyes at each other and be all sparkly. Great. But they didn`t have a connection. They had virtually nothing for me. So the end felt like she hit on a guy she had met earlier on the street and asked for the time. The most I could say for Dean and Jo is: they were in a scene together (or three as it was).
It`s basically like Buffy/Riley for me. They didn`t click, they were just two people constantly having scenes together and their relationship left me as a viewer right out the door because of it.
So I dearly hope the next time we see her she a) gets a character and b) they have any kind of sparkage.

Yes I was glad she was toned down from the actual sides and very unintrusive and you can`t really call her a MarySue here, not like the fanfics I tend to run from with the amazing kick-ass hunter girls but then I can`t call her anything really. She was just bland.

And to this day I think it was a bad mistake to really announce the love interest angle from day one. Sure, fans might have speculated and groaned either way but that made a lot of them predisposed with: "OMG, not THAT again."
Which brings us to...


Question the second is much more juicy: Why the uproar to the introduction of a female character?

And there is truth in that statement. Everytime a new characters is introduced in an established show, people are naturally wary, I think. If it`s a female, lots of people cringe.
A show like SPN with young male leads? Run for the hills.

Again I can only present a theory from my own experience and it basically boils down to "Once bitten, twice shy" or say "One hundred times bitten..." :)
I recently saw an episode of Classic Trek and I cringed my way all through it. The women, Starfleet officers no less, were just insipid and girly and it was generally sexist and offensive. I can see how women at that time were less than thrilled to be presented in such a way.

Then a change happened, women should now be presented in a better light. But the thing is, the writers went too far, like 20 feet over the line too far. We now had the annoying kick-ass. sassy and oh so perfect in everything heroines. Somehow I don`t think the average women felt much better about being represented by somebody you would want to bitch-slap in real life.
Oh, and STILL their main function seemed to be love interest. *headdesk*
And to this day you hardly ever find well-written female character. You either have them tomboy-ish and basically written like a man or you have sparkly little princesses like Lana Lang.
Maybe that is because the majority of writers are still male? I don`t know but that`s the way it feels. And I just don`t have this problem with males. Male characters are just not that botched. Just how I see it.

Yes, I`m starved for a Scully - intelligent, competent, not a "doll" but attractive and still distinctively female. A Xena - many kudos for casting someone who looks the part every inch. Even Chloe of SV is an admirable character - who gets the shit kicked out of her regularly on the show. Grr.

And love interests that are introduced for being love interests crash and burn in 99 % of the cases. It`s so predictable and anybody who has watched like any TV (and I have watched a lot), knows the "marker points." Which sadly shows hit every. single. time.
So yes, that`s why I personally have a freak-out anytime a showrunner announces and XY will get a love interest and don`t worry, she`ll be awesome. I get a rash right then. It`s like my battle scars are itching. :)
Maybe I make myself miserable with this but I just can`t shake off years of disappointment and disillusionment on that front. I just can`t.

Comments

( 37 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )
legoline
Oct. 7th, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear.

You know if there HAS to be a love interest I'd like to see Dean with someone like Leyla, and Andrea. Both were mature, down-to-earth women. They just felt real, and so did Sarah. I wouldn't mind her returning.

I've said it before - there's a reason why I connecte with Sam & Dean immediately but never warmed up to Joey POtter, Lana Lang, or all these perfect girls from O.C. California.

Oh, an exception being Kaylee from Firefly. She was great. Because she was cute, and a little sunshine but never annoying and not afraid to speak her mind.
astri13
Oct. 7th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC)
I think if you had asked fans in Season 1 if they wanted a love interest for the boys, lots of people would have said no. If you then would have asked, okay love interests are a given, but what is the one thing you want to say least of all, I bet you the answer would have been: a young perky hunter chick.

So they go and announce a love interest for Dean and spoilers/sides describe her as a young perky hunter chick. So yes, even without being a precog I saw it coming.
I would love for them to introduce a real field hunter who is female and has absolutely no romantic interest in the boys or has hot sex with Dean and the next morning they`re both like: "Yeah, it was fun. Now I have work to do." That would rock.
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dotfic
Oct. 7th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
Then a change happened, women should now be presented in a better light. But the thing is, the writers went too far, like 20 feet over the line too far. We now had the annoying kick-ass. sassy and oh so perfect in everything heroines.

Thanks for trying to shed some light on this. The over the line thing might be it. Except I can think of a number of tough, deeply flawed female characters on TV right now. And some are physically tough and some are emotionally strong and some a little bit of both. It's not like there's no nuance to the females on TV.

Maybe it's just that having Jo be so cute and a wanna be hunter is too easy and too pat and it doesn't fit with this show because this show isn't about easy or quick answers.

My meta on Jo is somewhat messed up by the fact that the concept of John/Ellen is so hot that I'm convinced Jo is their love child. My fanon brain is loud.
*mutters to self* Shut up, brain. Que sera sera, it's canon only if Kripke says it's canon.
astri13
Oct. 7th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
Except I can think of a number of tough, deeply flawed female characters on TV right now. And some are physically tough and some are emotionally strong and some a little bit of both. It's not like there's no nuance to the females on TV.

There are some female characters I like but not much in the teen and young twen category come to think of it because they get botched worst of all. And they are so often just the pat little love interest.
Also both the former WB and now the CW, yes, they have a certain look to their female heroines and I can totally understand viewers having enough of it.

The thing with her being a hunter I admit made me roll my eyes when the spoilers came out because it`s like the Arche Noah in TV: hunters to hunters and so on. Granted, people do tend to meet their significant others in their line of work but the very first love interest Dean gets (Cassie was in the past) and bam, she is a would-be hunter.

But really and absolutely my main problem is the introduction of a love interest just for that purpose. They come onto the show and you already know what`s going to happen. So you tend to scrutinize the chemistry and everything about them. And often the writers don`t bother to give them more then a few rudimentary character traits you can guess from a dozen other shows.
Like in Buffy, Riley was so obviously just brought on as a love interest and from day one I knew that so it made it even more painful how he was so bland and had no chemistry with Buffy. You just waited for the inevitable steps to happen to get them together. Yawn.

Otoh characters who are initially just intended as one shots sometimes click with the audience and then their parts get expended and it can turn out awesome. Angel was only supposed to be in like 3 episodes. So was Spike. Methos in Highlander just in the one. Cole in Charmed.
Or for females I loved both the quiet introduction of Tara or the building on the character of Anya. That seemed organic. They had a story purpose and it turned out into something more, that`s what I love.

My meta on Jo is somewhat messed up by the fact that the concept of John/Ellen is so hot that I'm convinced Jo is their love child. My fanon brain is loud.

If she is indeed their half-sister, they should reveal it pretty soon because with all the Star Wars allusions Kripke is always throwing around and the recent RotJ funeral pyre of the Dad, he shouldn`t exactly copy more scenes from SW.

I agree with the theory though that whatever there was, for Ellen it meant a lot more than for John. That man only ever loved Mary IMO and just sought some comfort in other women. Really, I don`t see him as having a deep connection to anything in the Roadhouse because otherwise I might scream for him having a neat little haven while his kids probably sat around in some dingy motel room. Argh. :)
dotfic
Oct. 8th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC)
The love interests introduced who have worked best for me have been the ones there from the beginning. I'm hard pressed to think of an example of a love interest added later where it was a couple I 'shipped. Every show that has really gotten under my skin had as its main romantic pairing a couple where both parties were there from the start, starting as friends, partners, or antagonists, which grew into romance.

That doesn't mean I can't warm up to the idea of Jo/Dean. But there's not a good precedent for that kind of character addition on TV. That has more to do with precent than Jo herself, whom I don't dislike, she's just a bit bland thus far.
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niennah
Oct. 8th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
My meta on Jo is somewhat messed up by the fact that the concept of John/Ellen is so hot that I'm convinced Jo is their love child. My fanon brain is loud.

Mine too! I can't get away from that idea. I also love the idea which is why I'm sticking to it till I'm proven wrong, lol.
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nasus221
Oct. 8th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
I understand what you're saying about Jo being so obviously introduced as a love interest. That's one thing I really like about shows like Veronica Mars, there are so many male characters on the show that it keeps you guessing as to where the romantic story lines are going to go, and you can ship practically anyone. You also get to know and love the characters as CHARACTERS instead of as "the love interest". However, I can see how Kripke had no way to do this since the show is always on the road.
astri13
Oct. 8th, 2006 10:32 am (UTC)
I see the problem with the show being stationary and thus you can only ever introduce recurrings as I don`t want to see anyone, male or female, in the backseat of the Impala, ever.

I would have greatly prefered it though if they had just introduced a female hunter and let her work as a character first, see if it clicks with the audience or any of the boys. Or kept her as it is, the mother-daughter combo in the roadhouse with the daughter having any purpose in the show, without the flashing neon sign of "Dean`s girl to be."
Then maybe I wouldn`t have cringed away from their painful lack of chemistry. And I already saw a couple of people commenting on how she had more chem with Sam.
tabaqui
Oct. 8th, 2006 03:43 am (UTC)
Dude, so exactly. I have *no* objectios to Jo except we get perky!sassy!blonde! in lo-rise jeans and tank-top, flipping her hair at Dean and then telling him how she's hit on *all* the time... Gah. Please.

Sarah? Cool. Leyla, also cool. Kat in 'Asylum' - cool. Lady Cop...Kathleen! She was *awesome*. Ellen could be neat if she's kind of a Sarah Conner, touch chick who can give them info and tips and supplies and hook them up with other hunters.

I can see Dean having a one-night with Ellen. Heh. I don't think they're hunters at all, they just know about stuff and can defend themselves, but i'll bet they've neither one actually gone on a hunt.

I really, truly, do *not* feel the need for *every freakin' show* to have a 'love interest', you know? I really, really don't. I'm *fine* without 'romantic coupling' or any of that other shite.

*of course, i'm also all about the Wincest but...hey.:)*

So, yes - exactly what you said. Give me characters more like Scully, or Bones, or Teyla from SGA, or Lilah or that goth chick from that CSI show....ummm... Heh. Give me a smart woman who's not afraid to be *different* - who isn't a little cookie-cutter girl and give her something *meaningful* to do. I don't want or need any eye-candy beyond the boys.
astri13
Oct. 8th, 2006 10:38 am (UTC)
I can see Dean having a one-night with Ellen.

That would be way more original and brave and as far as the episode went even more believable.

I really, truly, do *not* feel the need for *every freakin' show* to have a 'love interest', you know? I really, really don't. I'm *fine* without 'romantic coupling' or any of that other shite.

That`s another thing. You can get your romantic kicks on practically every show under the sun. It`s not like viewers have to be starved for it.

or that goth chick from that CSI show..

Abby from NCIS? Man, someone like her would be awesome and I could even see such a character with Dean if they insist on the romance. And while she is no weakling, she`d never get a punch in on Gibbs so yes, that`s believable to me.
Not the whole "the competence of our heroes varies on account of how cool the guest characters have to look" kind of thing.
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tsuki_no_bara
Oct. 8th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC)
the thing that really threw me about jo was that she looked all of nineteen. which... no. (and her hair, i know this is stupid but i could not get over how shiny and bouncy and perfect it looked, like she spent lots of time on it. i'm fully aware of how silly that is, that i fixated on her hair. >.< ) she was obviously written as the perfect girl for dean (tm) and not a character in her own right. she's like a plot point, not a person. and even if she is a kick-ass hunter, and even if a female hunter would be an interesting, fun character to see, she's STILL "dean's love interest" and not "jo, kick-ass female hunter". (and if she's as good at it as either of the boys? kripke and i will be having words, 'cause that's mary sue territory we're edging into.)

and i'm with tabaqui - why do we need a love interest, anyway? the show's about the boys, not the boys and their girlfriends. it's entirely possible to introduce female characters without making them love interests. kathleen, emily, kat. even layla, for all that dean desperately wanted to hit on her, existed as more than just a girl for him to ogle. and for jo to exist purely as a girl for dean to fall for is a cheat and not fair to him or us.
astri13
Oct. 8th, 2006 10:42 am (UTC)
she's like a plot point, not a person

Exactly. And since the purpose of the love interest is already set, writers usually don`t bother giving them much of a character apart from "perfect for our hero" or their idea of it which mostly differs greatly from mine.

t's entirely possible to introduce female characters without making them love interests.

Yes, yes, yes. There are some females from Season 1 I wouldn`t mind seeing again. Some in upcoming spoilers who sound neat.
astri13
Oct. 8th, 2006 10:43 am (UTC)
Oh, forgot about the age thing. While she looked slightly older than in the promo pics, it was still painfully too young for Dean who is supposed to be 27. She looked barely legal for Sam as it was.
andromakhe001
Oct. 10th, 2006 05:32 am (UTC)
Here here. You said it. It's So.Damn.Predictable! Love interest for the sake of a love interest. And the love interest will be AWESOME!!!! I have had too many shows ruined for me just like this to not fight it as soon as I see it. And Jo didn't pleasantly surprise me. She was every bit as lame as she seemed to be in the sides.

I can like female characters. I loved Zoe on Firefly. I thought Scully was great, for a large part of the series...until she started getting too weepy and victimized. But all the characters suffered. Xena too. Heck I even like Starbuck and Roslin and the cylon women on Battlestar. Not because I necessarily like them as people but because they are "real", they are screwed up and flawed and strong too. They may have love affairs but they mattered in their universe's before that. But by and large they are the exception as opposed to the rule. Female characters in general are just not well written and they nearly all end up somehow in the same boat sooner or later, defined by their sexuality in one form or another.

But Supernatural also isn't those shows, nor does it need to be those shows. It doesn't need to meet a 'female quota'. Love interests are not necessary, especially not at this point. Maybe when they get desperate for storylines in season 5 or something but not anytime soon. :D
astri13
Oct. 10th, 2006 05:16 pm (UTC)
But Supernatural also isn't those shows, nor does it need to be those shows. It doesn't need to meet a 'female quota'. Love interests are not necessary, especially not at this point. Maybe when they get desperate for storylines in season 5 or something but not anytime soon. :D

And especially because it IS just the second Season, you know they wont tie the leads down. Love interests are toast. And then we get the next one and the cycle happens again because TV characters apparently never ever learn. Or was that the writers? *headdesk*

The thing is, and adding insult to injury here, if you shove a love interest down people`s unwilling throat, not only will they be emotionally left out of the "will they get together"-story, they will also not care about the L.i.`s fiery death. If anything the demon might get some brownie points here. ;)
( 37 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )