Have you noticed how much women-led film and television seems to be changing and taking off lately? The Crown, Victoria, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to name a few.
What has struck me about these shows and films versus some of the others that have come before is the way they address women's history and women's power. Positively, unflinchingly, and without shying away from the problems that women had to surmount in order to achieve their dreams.
I mention The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in particular because their historical context enhances rather than detracts from the determination and unique strengths of both of their protagonists. Also, they're both female creative types, and I'm nothing if not a sucker for stories about people trying to make it in a creative profession.
Both Miriam (Midge) Maisel and Juliet Ashton experience relationship difficulties, are confronted by male power structures, and limited by the social strictures of their day. Yet, to use a modern phrase, they persisted. So many other shows that feature women protagonists showcase how the women only truly succeeds after she realizes she's a bitch, or she realizes she really wants a husband and children--that elusive relationship that will finally supplant the empty career that she'd used as a surrogate for the Romantic Thing she thought she couldn't have.
For example, let's take films like The Proposal or Bridget Jones. I adore both of these movies, but I hadn't realized before being exposed to the richly drawn Midge and Juliet how much less layered and alive these other films are. Sandra Bullock (again, love her) in The Proposal has to find fulfillment by realizing her career isn't everything and that being driven and hard (e.g. man-like) is the barrier to her ultimate happiness. While Midge realizes the opposite--that being the perfect wife to her husband, while something she actually enjoys, doesn't have to be all there is to who she is. Her happiness is not dependent upon her husband.
I won't spoiler these shows for you, but I wondered if you'd noticed the change in tone and inflection of these newer films and shows too. It's not just me, is it?
For my own part, I'm also viewing my own female characters through a different lens. It's as if someone has shown me a whole new row of colors in the crayon box that I hadn't realized existed. It's strange that I didn't see them before--surreal even. I mean, they were right there in front of me all along. We're not talking about revolutionary concepts, but rather the revolutionary application of those concepts in a way that women aren't made to apologize for.
Do you have other shows or movies that you'd like to share? I am on the prowl now for super well told and strongly drawn women-centric film and television!
Coloring outside the lines since 1969,
These are the musings of a cynical romantic. Heroes on the page may be closer than they appear.