Where my ladies at?

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It’s pilot week in TV land. The Antenna Blog is running a short series on the new network shows, so I decided to jot down a few initial impressions of some new shows.

I decided to watch Lone Star since the TVitterati and critics appear to be in general agreement about it’s lack of suckitude. Another entry into the “likeable sociopaths” genre that’s emerged in recent years, I was not initially interested in the series for some similar reasons Kelli Marshall explained in her blog. The television trailers and print/online ads indicated to me that I was probably not in its target audience despite my affinity for serial television. Having watched the pilot, I’m less perturbed by the generic use of female bodies as accessories (which is always troubling to me) but that we learn more about Bob’s fake wife’s brothers than we do about her. The two women are there purely to flesh out Bob’s character and provide plot motivation – he’s in love, you see. I’ve grown weary of seeing this convention over and over.

The other pilot I screened was Boardwalk Empire. Visually, it was very striking, with deeply saturated rich hues, mahogany interiors and red velvet lips and blood, working in contrast to the muted blue gray of the winter sky and ocean. But it’s another series about dudes doing dudely things. Like with Bob on Lone Star, I wasn’t drawn in by Nucky’s story. Jimmy’s story looks interesting, and I like how his “you can’t be half-gangster” declaration neatly encapsulated the narrative. Todd VanDerWerff is generous in his review to describe Margaret’s arc as central, and I hope it pans out that she takes on a more integral role outside of Nucky’s interest in her, but my fear is that her primary purpose will be love-interest with little interior life of her own. If the other women who appeared in the pilot are any indication, the role of women on the series might be limited to naked girlfriend, naked and dead, or wife. One might think, that in a series with such a large and sprawling set of characters there might be an opportunity to have more female roles. It’s possible to find more intertesting female characters on television than on film these days, and it’s part of television’s appeal for me, but there still aren’t that many to be found.

Both shows do however appear to have possible intersections with my interest in American identity and themes of exceptionalism, so I’ll probably watch them if only for research purposes.

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