Lovely Ladies

photo of vampire diaries pictures
First of all, all women who are not imaginary are “real women.” Five feet tall or six feet tall, ninety pounds or three-hundred pounds. Are they real? Are they women? Then they are, in fact, real women.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, I want to talk about women on television. On 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy insists at one point that a female character who has gained weight needs to either immediately lose 30 pounds or gain 60—anything in between “has no place on television.” It’s a funny line, because it’s a funny show. But I think that we all know what he was talking about.

No matter how beautiful they might be, women in television tend to be wedged into certain body-shapes, particularly if the audience is supposed to believe that they are attractive. Oh, the exact size of the actress’ clothing might change—there is a range (a range that often increases during times of economic struggle, oddly enough—remember the “top-heavy” models of the early 1980s?). Think about, say, Penny from The Big Bang Theory (a show which could get its own ranting post for a number of reasons).

There are some key examples that are wonderful deviations from this type while remaining beautiful. Did you guys watch Dollhouse, one of the best shows ever made (and, in particular, the best thing that Joss Whedon has every done—which is saying quite a lot)? Eliza Dushku and Dichen Lachman certainly fit the bill for the particular type of stunning beauty that we are accustomed to seeing on television. And, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with that. These are beautiful women. Were I sexually interested in women, that would almost certainly be my preferred body-type. But do you know who else was on that show and gorgeous? Miracle Laurie. She is so pretty, you guys. And she is definitely not fat. But she is definitely not slender, either. Still gorgeous. I love that she was on television, and on television playing …

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Many Twilight-Bashers Miss The Point

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Look, I hate Twilight as much as the next person. Actually, I probably hate it more than most. Twilight does not do any favors for women—and it also does not do any favors in terms of its portrayal of vampires. And I like women. And I like vampires. Love them, even. Since I was in second or third grade. Vampires, I mean.

I hate self-hating vampire guys who fall in love with local girls who are human but somehow special (Angel, Mick St. John, Stefan Salvatore, Bill Compton), but I can still enjoy the stories in which they are central characters. And I am not a fan of supernatural worlds in which “vampires” are so different from what I imagine that they hardly qualify for the name (Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse vampires and the vampires of Supernatural). And yet these stories can still be incredibly enjoyable.

Twilight takes both of these common flaws in vampire stories to new, upsetting extremes.

Twilight features the Cullen family of “vampires,” who are a small clan of self-hating vampires who live in secret but try to have a semblance of human lives. Not every vampire in the Twilight universe fits this description, but the “good guy” vampires do.

The “vampires” in Twilight better resemble human-shaped, venomous (for some reason) golems made out of sparkly caesarstone than vampires. I mean, really.

Twilight-bashing should never translate to vampire-bashing. Aside from the readers, vampires are the real victims, here. Vampires, from the older stories of magical beings or ravenous dead that feed upon the flesh or blood of the …

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Not A Tale As Old As Time

photo of beauty and the beast pictures
I was born in the later 1980s and I grew up in the 1990s. Disney’s Aladdin was the first film that I ever saw in a theater. While my two favorite Disney films were Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid, I also watched and enjoyed Beauty and the Beast. Not as much, admittedly, because Disney films are all about the villains, and Beauty and the Beast is one of those Disney films that did not have a “Disney villain,” but rather an actually detestable, genuinely villainous antagonist—Gaston. As a preschooler, I wanted to be friends with Maleficent, Ursula, and Jafar. I genuinely hated Gaston.*

Speaking of Gaston, who else loved the fate that befell him on Once Upon A Time? (And who else is totally shipping Belle with Ruby? Oh, that’s right. Almost everyone who watches the show.)

Once Upon A Time is not the only recent show to borrow from fairy tales. I am speaking, of course, of The CW’s Beauty and the Beast, which premiered a few weeks ago and plays on Thursday nights after The Vampire Diaries (a show which I absolutely adore).

Now, I love The CW. Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Arrow, Gossip Girl. For every unwatchable Heart of Dixie, they have something that I look forward to every week. The CW has been very good to me. The Secret Circle was also just wonderful, but was for some reason it was canceled. And this year, Beauty and the Beast has taken its time-slot.

Unfortunately, this show is . . . not the best.

I found the pilot episode reasonably enjoyable. I love the leading actress (she was Lana Lang on Smallville, which was a great show if you can ignore the terrible writing and just concentrate on Tom Welling), and this show’s biggest strength is the protagonist, who is a detective, and her partner, another female detective. I love their interactions and their dialogue. And it’s almost primarily a crime drama, and I love crime dramas. Plus, the protagonist kicks ass, and I love kickass female protagonists. As you may have noticed.

It’s shortcomings? Well, it’s a reboot of the kind of the weird Beauty and the Beast series from the 1980s, but with a lot of differences. It borrows from Dark Angel (remember Jessica Alba in post-apocalyptic Seattle?). The crime in the pilot episode is directly stolen from a season one episode of The Closer. The type of poison used, how the poison was delivered, and even the motive for the poisoning.

But, possibly more importantly, the “beast” himself is just not terribly interesting. I mean, he’s a handsome guy. But his entire story has to do with his deep-seated anger issues which arose from being the subject of horrible experiments. I . . . I am just not interested in watching a show in which one of the main character has explosive outbursts of anger. It makes me uncomfortable, and I spend any scene with him in it feeling anxious. Not everyone feels that way, but a lot of the comments on tumblr seem to be that his behavior is “triggery.” And that’s accurate.

The CW is a wonderful network. But Beauty and the Beast just did not appeal to me enough to keep up with it. Does anyone disagree?

 

*Plus, “every last inch of him’s covered with hair.” Gross. I know that they didn’t have Nair or laser hair-removal (which, thanks to ambiguities in the English language, sounds like a process that removes laser hairs) back then, but they had scissors, razors, and wax. Pick one, Gaston.



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