So since today we’re supposed to examine the letter G, I thought Gender was a fun word to look at. I was thinking about this post since early February when the thoughts were sparked by an episode of Adam Savage’s Still Untitled podcast. Gender is hard to write about as we get a little stuck in our ways but the good news is that things are slowly changing. High profile shows like Transparent and Orange is the New Black are doing their part to shatter gender stereotypes and ignorance. However, I decided to think up some more subtle examples woven into more mainstream shows. These are things people might not even notice right away but may open cracks for more knowledge and open-mindedness to worm its way past heavy defenses.
Jessica Jones does not use feminine wiles
Some of you may already see where I am going, some of you might wonder and some of you might already have had your minds blown like mine was. Jessica Jones is a great show that is subtly feminist in its equal representation of females. We could go back and forth on polarizing interpretations of the main villain portrayed by David Tennant. We could talk about how Jessica Jones and Patsy Walker are way tougher than women are usually portrayed. We could also talk about how Frank Simpson is threatened by Patsy and Jess’ strength. All of these are great depictions of gender as it really is in the world. However, let’s look at what’s not there. At no point in season one does Jessica Jones use her feminine wiles to get her way. She uses brawn, she uses brains and she uses connections but she never uses her sexuality. I don’t mean to say that it would be bad if she did but it’s an interesting thing to think about.
Charlie coached in seducing a guy by Dean Winchester
I love Supernatural but at its heart it is literally a show about bros constantly trying to save the world from magical threats. It follows Sam Winchester who is a fairly enlightened guy who is pretty respectful when it comes to differences and connected to the world. His brother Dean is a little less connected and tends to yearn for the 1970’s as he looks for earthly pleasure in the forms of booze, women and pie. While the combination sounds like The Odd Couple meets The X-Files it’s not exactly cut and dry. Under Dean’s surface, there is a deeper human being and Sam isn’t really as saintly as he often appears. My favorite episode of the whole series is The Girl with the Dungeons & Dragons Tattoo which guest stars Felicia Day. In the episode, Dean assumes that Charlie (Felicia Day) can get by a guard by flirting with him but Charlie reveals that she is gay. So, Dean talks her through flirting with a male using what he knows he likes. It’s just an awkward moment where both characters realize things about their identities.
Perry Saturn, Loser Wears a Dress
In the sports entertainment world (otherwise known as pro-wrestling) is a real but also fictional world where people fight physical and technical bouts for money in front of crowds. In this world image is everything because the outcomes and storylines are fictional but the pain can be real. You have to make the crowds interested in each match or they will be pointless to put on without earning money to pay all the costs involved. So, some intelligent promoter thought up using match stipulations to drive up more interest in matches that might need a little help. World Championship Wrestling came up with a lot of weird ones. People who lost matches had to leave the company, be people’s manservants, change group affiliations and so on. When Perry Saturn went up against Chris Jericho at Souled Out in the loser had to wear a dress. This was meant as a humiliation punishment but it turned out that Perry Saturn liked wearing a dress and didn’t see it as a punishment. Wearing women’s clothes isn’t a sign of weakness.
Castle is constantly rescued by Kate Beckett and is alright with it
There are too many of these moments to count. Castle is a show about Richard Castle, a murder mystery writer who suffers from writer’s block and eventually becomes a consultant to Detective Kate Beckett. The show has a lot of fun moments in it that are pretty human and there is a lot of drama to follow along with enough comedy to light the way. Kate’s evolution has little to do with her sexuality and more to do with her emotions as a human being, a police detective and an orphan. Castle, on the other hand, starts the first episode as a flirtatious, stubly alpha male who has questionable tendencies toward eligible females. Through the series, he comes to respect Kate better and respect himself better through her eyes and the eyes of his daughter. One thing that does occur from episode one is that Castle has no problems being rescued over and over by a woman as well he should not. Honorable mention goes out to Life and Psych as two more examples of tough, feminine characters who are fully accepted by their peers.
Officers Blubs and Durlon declare their love
Gravity Falls is a cartoon about twin twelve-year-olds who are sent to live with their Great Uncle for the summer in a small Oregon town. The town of Gravity Falls is filled to the brim with weirdness. There are supernatural creatures and magical spells and eldritch multi-dimensional beings that do all sorts of horrible (yet sometimes funny things). The show also has a whole cast of characters who are exaggerated but share a lot of moments that resonated with my life and, by looking at the fandom, I was not the only one so impacted. Two prominent side characters are the town’s only police officers, Officer Blubs and Officer Durlon. They are ignorant, lazy and crazy but, in the end, they do their job and help defend the town the best they can. Starting early it was hinted that they had a very close relationship but I always assumed they were friends. Then they started saying things that could be interpreted as making them more than friends. In the second to last episode they finally clearly declare their love as they embrace. I have to accept it as canon now.