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June 25 2014

Why is Orphan Black still fighting a war Buffy should have won over 10 years ago? "The geek community is ready for strong women. It has been for quite sometime. So why is this a war that's still being waged?".

Every one of you should be watching this show. It's so good. Holding my breath until it is officially renewed for season 3.
OBSESSED with Orphan Black. To answer the author's question - no single show (not even one as revolutionary as Buffy) can solve a social problem as entrenched as misogyny. I say we need to keep bringing on more work like this. Buffy helped pave the way, but fans will never get enough of female-empowering entertainment.
I think the show is losing its way tbh. Was great though.
Why is Orphan Black still fighting a war Buffy should have won over 10 years ago?

Because one airs on a cable channel and the other aired on netlets? They didn't air on mass audience networks. Critically acclaimed but with few viewers. The watercooler phenomenon isn't there. That's your problem. Until someone at NBC, CBS or ABC (or even Netflix) can take a leap of faith, fans are going to be singing the same old song about the lack of female-lead geek shows for the next few years.
Agent Carter, that's one!
Yes. All eyes will be on that show.
As a male fan of all three shows mentioned: Buffy, Korra, and Orphan Black I can agree with a lot of what they are saying.

What all 3 of these shows have in common though: They don't slef-identify as shows that are *only* female centric. Xander, Spike Giles, Angel (who got his own show), are all just as complicated or important to the show as Buffy and Willow.

Orphan Black does go into feminist allegory about women's rights and bodies (especially obvious in the recent S2 finale)but it doesn't let the men be flat characters either. Several of the side characters both male and female evolved in the season. Scott, Donnie, Gracie all started off as pretty one-dimensional characters but got to each prove their worth. The show also seems poised to explore stereotypes and restrictions of masculinity with the big reveal of the . The characters we already know are fighting against being treated as mere objects to be poked and prodded. The new characters seem to be fighting against being used as tools with no agency of their own.

Last Airbender and Korra make the girls strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the boys but they also have the depth of their own arcs that you don't even think about it. Toph invents Metalbending not as a direct rebuttal of misogyny but her own willpower to get away from the sheltered life her parents want her to live. Neither show is "just" for boys or "just" for girls like Powerpuff Girls or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That being said, both are outstanding shows in many ways and one of them even offed a pair of villains in a very clear murder-suicide. Remarkable when you consider it comes from the same network as Spongebob.

No show alone can change everything but the way to get these strong characters in entertainment is to not categorize them as just role models for girls and women, they can and should be relatable to all kinds of viewers.

Network viewership has been declining for a number of years as technology changes. This change could help break this problem.
I can't imagine it not being renewed. It has to be BBC America's most successful show, right?

It is a fantastic show with a very powerful connection to Buffy. It did seem to lose focus a bit this season but I'm hopeful they'll get back on track.
I don't know if it is their most successful show but you don't cancel a show that you co-produce after the second season while the ratings and buzz are growing as fast as OB's are. Pretty sure the producers said they are already writing S3 a few weeks ago at the Austin TV fest. It's a no brainer.
@Squishy-It's behind Doctor Who actually but with all the buzz and awards (glares at Emmys) it gets, the ratings being up all season from last year and the fact they can cost-split with Space Channel in Canada make me feel its safe.

I loved S2 but do feel it is crowded now and could use a bit more time to let stuff land for the viewers. But more episodes would kill Tatiana.
As to the immediate "why?" behind this, I point to two articles over on "The Hathor Legacy." In the first, Jennfier Kesler explains that scriptwriters in Hollywood don't write lots of strong female characters because they are explicitly told not to, on the grounds that "it won't sell." In the second, Kesler goes on to explain that, among other reasons such as arrogance and a hidebound culture, entertainment people want things to be predictable, as this is what will get them money from cautious investors. So any real change in the game is risky, and if they went to the investors and said, "Huh, turns out we were wrong about the appeal of women," the investors might say, "Okay, so you were wrong about literally half the audience: why should we trust your predictions about anything any more?"

But the real problem is, naturally, what WhatsAStevedore pointed out: there's a lot of misogyny out there. When people (apparently) treat "female" hurricanes as less of a threat because they've got a woman's name hung on them, we're dealing with a deep, deep sickness, and deep, deep stupidity.
Wow, I've never heard that about hurricanes. How utterly ridiculous and sad. Despite any deeply ingrained mindsets, don't people ever just stop and think for a moment?
The hurricanes thing very well might not be true. There's a lot of people pointing out massive problems with both the study and how it's been interpreted. For example, hurricanes in general have gotten stronger in the last few decades, but they've only started getting female names recently. If you measure the deadliness of them only from the time that we've had both male and female hurricanes, then there is no difference. There are other problems, too.

As for the article, does Lost Girl not count? I like that show.
So you're saying there's maybe some hope still for humankind? :)
For example, hurricanes in general have gotten stronger in the last few decades, but they've only started getting female names recently.

Not true. All hurricanes were given female names until 1979, when they started alternating between male and female names. It was changed, at least in part, because naming potentially deadly storms after females only was considered to be sexist.

That Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy have been so deadly is a matter of bad timing, not because hurricanes with female names are inherently more deadly. In fact, in 1979, David and Frederick were devastating, deadly hurricanes.

To get back to Orphan Black, the fact that it is the exception as a female-led show, rather than standard fare nearly 50 years after Emma Peel kicked doors down, and Ant-Man gets a movie, but Black Widow and Wonder Woman don't, we're still relegated to the Outer Limits.
Sorry, I had the details reversed on the hurricanes. They've gotten less deadly, not more. I'm going to blame jetlag. It's probably not the jetlag, but that's my excuse.

Here's a direct quote, just to avoid confusion.

"But [National Center for Atmospheric Research social scientist Jeff] Lazo thinks that neither the archival analysis nor the psychological experiments support the team’s conclusions. For a start, they analysed hurricane data from 1950, but hurricanes all had female names at first. They only started getting male names on alternate years in 1979. This matters because hurricanes have also, on average, been getting less deadly over time. “It could be that more people die in female-named hurricanes, simply because more people died in hurricanes on average before they started getting male names,” says Lazo."

That's from National Geographic, although I got it from an article on Slate. The whole Slate article is worth reading, it shows several problems with the study.

Also, I apologize for derailing the thread.
I don't think that this writer has done their homework. You had characters like Ripley, Emma Peel, Susan Ivonova, Dana Scully and Katherine Janeway before Buffy, and since Buffy we've had Katniss Everdeen and a slew of sci-fi and fantasy shows in which either females take the lead or have equal representation.

Infront of the camera there continues to be strong representation for women, and it wasn't Buffy that broke the mould (it was Xena); however, Joss employed a lot of female writers, and I think we should be asking ourselves why there is still so little representation for women behind the camera instead of just infront of it.
I thought about putting a warning on that hurricane example, and clearly I should have! Mostly I meant we've still got serious issues as a society.

Very astute point about behind-the-scenes, SeanHarry, though I think there are still some problems in front of the camera, too.
Not to worry about the hurricane example. The name thing is a piece of history that only old feminists like me remember.

As for being hurricanes less deadly these days, tell that to post Katrina New Orleans. Fortunately, Sandy was less deadly, because people had ample warning, but boy did it do a lot of damage.

@SeanHarry: You make a good point. Still, the fact that the major studios still have a blind spot for fully actualized female superheroes, and that most sci-fi/comic book movies are written and directed by men indicates there is still a problem. Even at Marvel, the penis has the power.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2014-06-26 16:33 ]
Nothing can defeat the power of the penis.

Comics are changing. Most of the popular and most employed marvel writers have a strong, strong feminist streak, which comes across both in plot and representation. It might be a few years before the transition happens onto the screen , but the company (Or writers) is laying the groundwork now.
While we may be feminists, I think there is overwhelming evidence that most of the world isn't. Nor will most of the world ever read the world through the lens of a feminine and masculine narrative. It will remain trapped in a male dominated narrative, due to history and religion being overwhelmingly written by males with a focus on males.

It's sad and we should do what we can to change it. Simple viewership and writing is not enough. We have to speak about it!


Also, I like Orphan Black. But you know, Buffy was my first love and idol at the same time. Nothing beats that.
Wars are not ended by the losers.
Simon, both might have aired on non-major networks, but you would think that would be the testing ground and be proof enough for the major networks to give a show like BtVS or Orphan Black a chance. I think the article is asking why they haven't yet and why after other successes is the ingrained notion that female leads won't sell still, uh, ingrained. Both shows, plus movies like the Hunger Games are proof postive that they will.

SeanHarry, the article specifically mentions Hunger Games as an example of some of the works that lead with a female. It's not really about representation in general. It's about the lead. A majority of the characters you sited are either assitants or partners with a man or part of an ensemble. It's not that Buffy was the first, or that there never were female characters, it's that despite the fact that there have been and those character were accepted by "geek community" it's still a struggle to get works developed with female leads. (And any chance of an Orphan Black convention? You know, just curious.)

Also, I'm pretty sure that any of the clones would have been slayers. Buffy or Andrew will be by any time now to explain the world of vampires to them at any time. Ooooo. Maybe one of Buffy's crew (I have no idea what they're up to in the comics since I haven't read them) will find Helena... *spoilers* ...and she'll get slayer training and someone write that please? Just for me?
An Orphan Black Con might would need to have Tatiana Maslany appearing X 5 on stage.
Or Tatiana & the actress that is usually opposite her as whatever clone she's talking too, and all her body doubles. And Jordan. Because he's just adorable in interviews.
NYPinTa-Or Giles walks up to Alison and says he's here to Watcher her, Alison pulls out a golf club and the next thing Giles knows is waking up in a Craft Room.
I agree with the article, though the scope was so narrow that I find the question posed to almost be too pithy or simplistic.

I also don't think Black Widow played second fiddle to anyone in The Winter Soldier. It was a Captain America movie but she was integral in the plot itself, not there to further Steve's story. She brings the smarts and she gets them out of trouble. And she does it without ever needing to undress or talk about being a woman. She just is who she is.
One Joss parallel that should not be overlooked is the development of family from a group of misfit strangers. By the end of season two, the clones, along with Felix and Kira and Cal, are really a family.
I've recently gotten hooked on "Hawaii Five-0" - the new version, not the original with Jack Lord. It's something of a guilty pleasure. The guilty part is how much of the pleasure of watching it comes from watching Alex O'lachghlin do anything at all. The completely nonguilty part comes in seeing the character Kono who I gather was a man in the original series, but in this version is played by Grace Park, formerly Boomer/Athena of Battlestar Gallatica. And Kono is one kick-butt officer. In her first appearance when she is not yet known to be on the force, they send her in solo undercover, no weapon, to try to get evidence a drug runner, she gets made, and instantly goes defensive mode using martial arts against half a dozen armed thugs before her team reaches her. She's just like that throughout as much of the series as I've seen. My favorite is where she is captured, has her hands tied and is thrown into car truck. When they come to a stop the thug opens the trunk and she launches herself at him with her feet, manages to get his gun and overpowers him. So far that's nothing out the ordinary for what I've seen her do. I know there will be other fighting women on the show - there's one right now from the FBI but she isn't in the credits so I don't know how long she'll be staying but she's a fighter too, the point being the women on the team are not delicate roses. They use their guns and they use they martial arts training, and they mix it up. And everytime I see Kono launch a kick or a punch, I think to myself "You got that from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and that should never be forgotten."

Also for those interested, our own James Marsters plays a very evil human being who kills someone important to the lead charachter Steve McGarret, in the first season first episode. Everytime I saw him in an episode, I had to wonder if Marsters and O'Laughlin trash-talked vampires during down time on the set, you know Buffy vampires were so much cooler looking with their big bump foreheads, yet but Moonlight vampires were harder to kill, yada yada.
I love Orphan Black almost as much as I love Buffy. I can't imagine them not giving them a 3rd season, and I was happy to see them promote the finale as the season finale and not the series finale, that in itself gives me hope.

And sorry to bring up the hurricane thing again, but Hurricane Irene was bad enough to cause my family home to collapse, and a good portion of my town was lost from Hurricane Sandy.

Back on topic, if you haven't seen Orphan Black yet, you're missing out on an incredible show.

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