okayawesome: laura roslin ("as if" is so 1995)
[personal profile] okayawesome
...Okay, obviously I do not believe that is true.

But it is interesting how, the older I get and the more aware/attuned to feminist issues in media I become, the harder it is to enjoy certain things without a healthy amount of reserve and a big grain of salt.

Case in point: I'm currently in the middle of season two of Breaking Bad. And from a purely technical and artistic standpoint, it really is an astonishingly good show: the dialogue is great, the acting is fantastic, and the cinematography is probably the best I've ever seen on television. Part of me is really, really enjoying it.

And yet... every time I watch an episode, I'm uncomfortably aware of how much a Man's World the show takes place in. Sure, the gender divide in the cast is more or less equal on the surface (the leads are both men, but the secondary cast is two and two right now)... but the women function solely as wives and girlfriends, existing to throw wrenches in Walter and Jesse's (and Hank's) domestic lives when need be, to assist their storylines when they need assisting.

And as I watch it, I think: how could a show that is so accomplished on so many levels fail so completely at something like this? Or rather, if it does fail at this, can it really be that good of a show?

Obviously, none of this is new thinking at all, and I am retreading a road that many have taken before me.

I think this is just the first time I've watched a show that was really supposed to be of superior quality, yet stuck in my craw so very much over gender issues. I can look at Mad Men, Game of Thrones, and other "quality" series, critically, and there are a lot of things I can say about them... But I can't say that the portrayal of gender isn't highly nuanced. I know the focus of Breaking Bad is on Walter and Jesse, but I don't see why it still couldn't do the same. It seems to be pretty good on racial issues, for example.

Well, here's hoping it gets better. *crosses fingers* Either way, I just felt the need to rant about it, quite suddenly, because it's actually sort of ruining my enjoyment of the show.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-26 04:24 am (UTC)
ext_251: (Breaking Bad)
From: [identity profile] htbthomas.livejournal.com
I can see where you're coming from here. I feel like both Skyler (whom I love) and Marie get more development as time goes on, but the show is very focused on Walter and Jesse. I think the other issue that bothers me in the back of my mind is the fact that most non-whites are villains throughout the series (with two notable exceptions).

That being said, I find that SJ makes me hyper-aware a lot of the time. I have to consciously turn it off quite often - and sometimes I just can't. I hope you can with this show. It's my FAVORITE drama by leaps and bounds.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-26 08:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ncc-gqmf.livejournal.com
Really? It seems like POC show up both as bad guys and good guys -- that's why I said it was good with race. There's Hank's partner, Walt's doctor, the principal, Combo... And I just got to Gus, who I guess is ambiguous. I mean, drug dealer, sure, but he doesn't seem worse than Walt and Jesse so far, just smarter. He's pretty badass, anyway.

Sometimes, I can turn the SJ stuff off. Game of Thrones/ASOIAF has some totally problematic stuff I have to just kind of ignore. And I have to admit, it's probably wrong of me, but gender issues do bother me more than race, a lot of the time... I think partly because I'm a white woman and partly because I sort of just understand less why it's so hard to write female characters (although that's probably also because I'm a white woman).

With Breaking Bad... I just got to the end of season two, so I don't know what's coming with Skyler and Marie, but right now they both (and Jane, too) just seem to serve such purely basic narrative functions. I was pleased by Skyler's decision in the finale, but it's not like I didn't know it was going to happen for the entire two seasons before it. I'm pretty sure I already know where her story in S3 is going to go, too, despite being totally unspoiled. Plus, they basically fridged Jane, although I didn't care that much because I found her annoying and cliche.

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