Monday, October 22, 2007

Bad-ass women

Claire. Niki/Jessica. Molly. The woman who could change her identity. Claire's mom.

And, now there's Monica, Maya, and the new blonde who can shock people from afar.

I don't usually use such trite vulgarities, but in this case, it's so true.

Heroes is the best sci-fi soap opera I've ever seen. It's compelling, and it has strong and vulnerable female characters who aren't just inserted into the storyline to be saved.

Okay, there was the whole save-the-cheerleader storyline. But, it soon became clear Claire is pretty good at saving herself. She even played an important part in the last few episodes, saving her father and working to avoid the nuclear destruction of New York City, all while trying to figure out her powers, test her limits, and give her general freakiness its due. And, she had most of the flesh on her body melt off in a minor nuclear explosion (in a bit of sillyness, a wooden table apparently can protect Mr. Bennet from horrible radiation) then grow back because of her healing powers. (The first few episodes of last season were about her trying to fit in and keep her specialness at bay; it's interesting to see her forced to hide her powers and fighting to showcase her independence and powers without putting her family in danger this season.)

Niki/ Jessica is a very interesting contrast. Niki only cares about her son and keeping him safe. She is an essential caregiver, while her 2nd personality, that of her dead twin sister, is akin to a soldier of fortune. Jessica is an unstoppable killing machine. It does make me sad that both halves of the character can't coexist. She can't be a mercenary and a good mother; Jessica puts her family in danger and does what ever she can to get ahead while Niki is a veritable cream puff. The only time the writers nod to the possibility of Niki getting her violent side on is after her entire family dies in the alternate future episode.

Molly is a little girl, but she was the most important character in the story arc of last season. She can find any of the heroes with special powers wherever they are in the world. She helped them find the badguy, Sylar, and was used by The Company as their personal tracking unit.

There was also a woman who could change her identity and surroundings at will. She's been the most disappointing hero so far, because she was hiding the fact she was fat. Instead of embracing her curves, she made everyone think she was a tiny wisp of a thing. The writers constructed her so she would eat all the time and made it clear how horrible it is for a woman to weigh more than Hollywood's ideal. Boo Heroes writers, boo. She also worked for The Company, but Sylar ate her brains, so he could steal her powers. (Sylar cuts opens people's heads and does something with their brains. I hope he eats them. It's more interesting that way. If he doesn't I'll be disappointed. He's got that zombie appeal.)

And, there's Claire's mom. I think she was brought into the story to cement the bond by Claire and her dad, the evil horn-rimmed Mr. Bennet who turned to be not-so-evil after all. Claire's mom started fires, set the stage for the Bennet's to adopt Claire, and kept Claire from meeting her father, Nathan Petrelli.

Now, there's Monica, who can make her body do whatever she sees. So far, she has been able to carve tomatoes into roses, beat up shady people, double dutch, and mimic Bruce Lee. It was disappointing when she picked double dutch to test out her powers instead of skateboarding or basketball, but the writers redeemed themselves by having her test out her Bruce Lee moves.

I'm not sure what Maya can do, but it involves people collapsing while her eyes bleed. She is always with her brother, who can somehow stop her horrible eye-bleeding attacks, I guess by calming her down. It's not the most useful power unless they're being attacked by people at close range, then it's fun to watch her eyes bleed. The people collapsing just collapse, no excitement there. She doesn't look like she's having much fun with her powers.

Tonight, the electric shock lady was introduced. She's exciting because of her cockiness, but that will probably be her downfall. Sylar will probably eat her brains, too. Although, I think he may already have shocking powers. Peter Petrelli already does; he can absorb and use the powers of others just by being in their general location. In an interesting twist, she's working for her father to track down Peter. Because of tonight's episode, he's going to start tracking her.

There are more female characters in Heroes, but they're not intriguing to me. It's such a diverse cast with so many integral parts, it can be hard to keep up with why I should care about every single character.

Even better than the online episodes is the comic book series. It delves into the Heroes universe more than the series and provides fans with something to do when they aren't watching the show online or DVD, chatting about the series online, or writing their own fanfic.


WKnapik said...

First thing is I think the female characters are more fun than the male characters.They actually seem to want to use their powers(except Maya,but her power is kinda creepy).The men,except Hiro(comic relief) and Micah(a kid) are all so angsty and brooding.Second,I wasn't disappointed in the double dutch thing at all.If I had that power I'd do a lot of fun,goofy stuff too.I read it as double dutch being one of those things that she probably always wanted to try but never could,so why not try it now?

Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said...

I didn't have any problem with Monica going with Double Dutch. There is nothing that says that skateboarding or basketball are better than jumping rope. While it might be true that females are more likely to choose jumping rope over skateboarding or basketball, there is nothing sexist in her making that choice. She doesn't have to have traditional male values to be great person. If she'd used her powers entirely to be more artist, helpful, or professionally marketable, and not at all for violence or competitive sports, I'd have been fine with that.

WKnapik said...

Actually,Mad Thinker there makes a point I didn't think of.Monica gets a cool power that lets her copy anything she sees.I think it would be less empowering for her to use her gift just to copy what the men are doing.She did what SHE wanted to.What would you want to learn?Would you just learn how to fight and play sports or would you use the opportunity to tackle some of the activities that you always wanted to learn but maybe found them to be too unapproachable?There is no wrong answer,just something to think about.

Wendy Withers said...

I think these are all insightful comments. Unfortunately, there isn't really any background on her yet. There's nothing that says at one point she really wanted to be a double dutch champion. But, when it comes to the media, women and girls are usually depicted doing "girly" things. Little girls get play cottages equipped with only an oven, a washer and dryer, and an ironing board. Little boys play with all sorts of cars, robots, and action figures while girls get Barbies, princesses, and lots of pink things. I just liked the part where she was practicing kicking butt instead of practicing jumping rope. She did look like she was having fun, though.