Covert Affairs: Flipping the Script

We’ve been doing some talk recently about leading ladies.  And more importantly what it means for a tv show or book when your main character is female. There is something interesting happening in regards to this over on the USA show, Covert Affairs. Now, this is a little bit of a late to the party post because Covert Affairs is in it’s fourth season, but I’m going to mostly talk in general terms, with no major spoilers.

Here is our leading lady, getting herself out trouble via some quick thinking and an expensive pair of shoes.

Here’s our leading lady, getting herself out trouble via quick thinking and an expensive pair of shoes.

This is Annie (played by Piper Parabo). She is young, blonde, pretty, and idealistic. She is also a rookie CIA agent, pulled out of training early to deal with a man from her past. She is physically capable, fluent in many languages, has nerves of steel and is often ruled by her compassion.

Our leading man!

Our leading man!

This is Auggie (played by Christopher Gorham). He is a former navy seal and a current CIA analyst. He is Annie’s CIA handler, friend, and love interest. He is immensely intelligent, capable, funny and caring. He also happens to be blind.

Now this is great for a number of reasons. We don’t see a lot of disabilities on tv, and we certainly don’t see them in our leading men. I’m having a hard time coming up with an example of an action show where the leading man is blind, or deaf, or less than what we consider perfectly physically capable in any serious way. I think over the course of their runs, a lot of characters will deal with some kind of temporary physical disability gained in the line of fire, but they will then triumphantly overcome it. Temporary blindness is a big soapy one, but not something that tends to have a lasting impact. Continue reading


Top 10 Highly Biased Reasons Why Reign is Great

Fair warning: We tried to avoid spoilers in this list, but we may hint at things pretty strongly. Nothing major, and nothing you wouldn’t see in the first episode, but you will get a general sense of things. Also, we like drama filled shows. They let us gossip about things without, y’know, ACTUALLY GOSSIPING ABOUT REAL PEOPLE. If you don’t like drama and you’re trying to decide whether or not to start a new TV show this list is probably a waste of your time, because this one is not for you. But if you have been hearing a lot about this show and don’t want to commit to watching an episode without knowing that we approve (aww, we’re flattered!), read on.

See below re: pretty people and costumes.

  1. Pretty People. Seriously, everyone in this show is drop dead gorgeous. It depends on what your “type” is, but there is someone who you will find drool-worthy. And they aren’t all twenty-somethings, either! The King and Queen of France are quite attractive, as are most (ok, all) of the courtiers and minor characters, who vary in age. Continue reading

Much Ado About Virtue

One Hero died defiled, but I do live,
And surely as I live, I am a maid.

Much Ado About Nothing, Act V, Scene IV

Hero's disgrace

Hero’s disgrace

I had a chance to see a screening of Joss Whedon’s film, Much Ado About Nothing last week. As we have established here on Sassafrakas, I’m a big fan of Shakespeare. The language, the stories, the themes… they speak to me.  As some of you know (but we have not discussed here on the blog) I am also a big fan of Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the first TV shows that I decided to watch on my own as a teenager, and in its own way, it stuck with me. I’ve stuck with Joss Whedon throughout his career. This film for me is the perfect storm of things that I’m into.

You know the drill about this movie, right? Its been buzzing all over the internet for months, but if you don’t know (hi, Mom!) here are the basics. Director and producer Joss Whedon shot it in 12 days in his own California home, with a collection of actors plucked mostly from other productions of his over the years.  It’s filmed in black and white and set basically in the present (although the fashion is decidedly non trendy, and that throws the viewer’s ability to place it). It has guns instead of swords and very, very, little technology.

Continue reading

How Soap Operas are Changing the World, and Why That’s Great

I will not pretend to be a fan of soap operas, but this headline got my attention immediately:

The secret to bringing down India’s birth rate: get more women to watch soap operas

It turns out that there’s a significant level of correlation between which regions of India have access to cable television and which regions are experiencing lower total fertility rates.  The study on which the article is based goes into further detail of the positive social change in its abstract:

Using a three-year, individual-level panel dataset, we find that the introduction of cable television is associated with significant decreases in the reported acceptability of domestic violence towards women and son preference, as well as increases in women’s autonomy and decreases in fertility. We also find suggestive evidence that exposure to cable increases school enrollment for younger children, perhaps through increased participation of women in household decision-making.

Apparently, similar findings were uncovered when tracking fertility rates in relation to cable-viewing in Brazil.   Continue reading

Orphan Black: Bad girls do it well

Orphan Black's resident bad girl, Sarah

Orphan Black’s resident bad girl, Sarah

We are here to talk about bad girls. Or one particular bad girl, Orphan Black‘s protagonist, Sarah.

Last month I started watching Orphan Black on BBC America. It just finished its 10 episode first season and I am loving it. It’s kind of a dark action show with science fiction elements and some really strong female characters (most of whom are played by one actress). None of my friends are watching it yet (hint hint, friends) so after finishing the first handful of episodes I went online to see what people were saying about it. I was surprised to see how many people had  strong negative feelings about Sarah. I think Sarah is great. She’s strong and dynamic and interesting and passionate.

But she’s also basically an anti-hero. She lies, she cheats, she’s an absentee mother. She has a terrible, sleazy, violent drug dealer ex boyfriend. She is not your typical female protagonist, and yes, she fits the bad girl mold.

I’m going to talk about the plot a little bit but nothing that the preview for the first episode doesn’t basically spoil.

Continue reading

Maddo’s Top Three New Primetime Network TV Llllladies

Now that the network season has come to a close, we can talk about some of the llllladies in the shows that premiered in the autumn of 2012. Before going further, I’ll say that I’ve done my best to avoid any significant spoilers, but you can expect a level of detail consistent with a review.

In keeping with that, if you comment on or discuss this post publicly, PLEASE AVOID SPOILERS for the sake of other readers.

I think 2012-2013 was a great season for women on primetime network television. We’ve seen some great examples of female characters coming into their own or being introduced in longstanding shows, but I’m always sensitive to how shows treat women from the get-go, and there were quite a few new shows this season with wonderful female characters.

Here are my top three. I had to leave a lot of wonderful women out for fear of making my inaugural post even more unreasonably long, so I’ve included a list of other notable female characters at the end.

#3: Nora Clayton – Revolution (NBC), played by Daniella Alonso


For all its faults and its rocky start, Revolution has become a solid series with a promising future. Continue reading