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New TV Musings + Alien (& Scary) Visions of Gender and Relationships - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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October 8th, 2010

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02:46 am - New TV Musings + Alien (& Scary) Visions of Gender and Relationships
We've been trying some new TV shows in this season. Mostly, the results have been fairly dismal, we turned off a few simply because they were too dull to consider. The one bright spot has been teaotter is very much enjoying Hellcats, , which is the sort of minimally sexist female-centric show that she loves, and in large part because she enjoys it so much, so do I. We are also watching Nikita, which is nowhere near as good as the mostly excellent (at least for the first 3 seasons) late 90s show La Femme Nikita, but is managing to be (just barely) good enough to keep watching.

However, this week, we tried two that sounded potentially interesting, and weren't - Undercovers - a breezy spy caper show with two people of color as the stars, the idea sounds promising, but the execution was both rather dull, and most of all filled with hideous gender and relationship nonsense – the multiple scenes with ludicrously annoying jealousy being presented as funny was too much for all three of us. No Ordinary Family is about a family that suddenly all gains superpowers – very cool premise, but in addition to being a bit dull, the relationship dynamics were different but just as bad as Undercovers. On both shows, the sorts of gender dynamics that are assumed to be normal or perhaps a tiny bit extreme and thus funny are both alien to my life and at best somewhat creepy.

I can now watch shows like White Collar, which features one of the few truly functional and from my PoV loving marriages I've seen on TV, or Covert Affairs, which is heavily focused on male-female desire, but is far less alien and creepy than either of the other shows. Even Burn Notice, where Fiona and Michael are both fairly broken people manage to have a romance that isn't based on stereotypes considerably older than I am. I have no idea why the USA network manages to be so much better about gender dynamics than any other network.

In any case, all of this made me thing of the impressively excellent post about gender dynamics that catvalente made after watching this year's Superbowl halftime ads. Undercovers & No Ordinary Family weren't quite that bad, but they were clearly from a similar viewpoint – one where women can now be heroic and have impressive careers, but also where supposedly healthy male-female relationships are filled with lies and jealousy and this is not seen as a major problem. It's clearly possible, and in fact not that difficult to create such relationships that make for interesting plots, several of the shows that I watch manage this quite well and have entire episodes focused on heterosexual romance w/o horrifying me or using vile stereotypes, but accomplishing this takes writers and directors whose minds are not firmly fixed in the mid 1950s when it comes to romance & marriage. I have no idea if most people watching such shows find these relationships horrifying, but I suspect not, and if I'm correct, then mainstream culture remains an alien place that I prefer to strictly avoid.
Current Mood: tiredtired

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2010 11:44 am (UTC)
Ugh. You know, sometimes I think the bubbly pastel-coloured RPGs from Japan I play are horribly sexist. And... they are. Sometimes abysmally. But they still aren't as bad as mainstream TV sounds.

<-- has not watched TV in approximately five years; cannot say from observation
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)

Speaking of Stupid Gender Stereotypes....

One reason I never got involved in the New Age movement was all the nonsense about "male-female polarity" that was constantly spewed. Translated into English, this endorsed the stupid "male-active, female-receptive" nonsense and ignored all non-heterosexual dynamics.

I find this more pernicious than mainstream culture. At least the latter does not pretend to be enlightened. New Agers should know better, but apparently they don't.

In contrast, I have found Otherkin culture to be the most progressive I have ever found about all matters of gender.
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed the theatrical release preview I saw for Undercovers and was looking forward to it, but after reading your review I'm not going to start looking for it.
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
Ugh - Yeah, Undercovers is horrible... I had a white night a couple of evenings ago and watyched the first three episodes of Chase much to my eternal regret as well.

Currently I'm a fave of Covert Affairs and Sons of Anarchy when it comes to "interesting" romance and male/female interactions. I want to watch Nikita but haven't managed to start it yet, mostly because I am afraid that I will be disappointed compared LFN...

[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you for articulating what I didn't like about Undercovers. I knew that the relationship (and therefore the show) didn't grab me when I watched the pilot, but I hadn't analysed why. Yeah, it was like a bad caricature.

Peter and Elizabeth, while not being perfect, have spoiled me for other TV marriages. :-/
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2010 05:32 am (UTC)
What's more, Sister Wives - the Mormon polygamy reality show - manages to be way the hell less offensive in a whole episode than either of those failed attempts at television were in five minutes.

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