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[personal profile] bookgazing
Last year, at San Diego Comic Con, Star Trek fans watched 1:45 minutes of slow-mo spacecraft action, and it became clear Star Trek: Discovery was going to be emotional. Then, in May, Sonequa Martin-Green and Michelle Yeoh walked across a sand dune together, and it became clear that Star Trek: Discovery was going to be EMOTIONAL. Major new mainstream sci-fi where two chromatic women talk to each other? Major new mainstream sci-fi where two chromatic women are engaged in a mentor/mentee relationship? This is most definitely the future liberals want.

Minor spoilers follow )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
Quinn King and Rachel Goldberg lying on striped sun loungers

The first series of Lifetime's 2015 show, UnREAL is set in the brutal, claustrophobic world of Everlasting; a reality TV show styled on dating programs like The Bachelor. UnREAL's world exists on three planes: the backstage world of the crew; the on-camera world of staged Everlasting moments, and the "behind the scenes" (perpetually filmed) world of the Everlasting cast. On-camera and behind the scenes, a group of women compete for the attentions of Adam Cromwell; the wealthy, currently disgraced, heir to a the fortune of a British hotel magnate. Back-stage. the largely female crew vie to push these women, or "their girls" as they call them with a faint whiff of pimps, into creating drama that will send the show's ratings through the roof. Despite the private mansion, the helicopter rides, and the champagne laced dining experiences, the world of Everlasting is just as hard and savage as any dystopia you've seen on the big screen in the last few years.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] owlmoose
Thursday, May 12th, was a day of highs and lows for fans of television shows that feature female superheroes. First came the news that Supergirl -- an imperfect show, but one with a lot of promise and a strong focus on relationships between women -- was renewed for a second season and will be moving from CBS to The CW. This change is likely a good long-term move for the show, since The CW has a friendlier viewer demographic, and several of the other DC-related shows are already there (allowing for easier crossovers). Unfortunately, I barely had time to be happy about this development before ABC announced that Agent Carter will not be receiving a third season.

Friends, this sucks. CA: Civil War spoilers behind the cut. ) Unless it's continued in the comics, or the show finds a home on another network, Peggy's story is really over. And while I enjoyed the story that she got, she deserved so much more.

So, let's talk about that story. When I last looked in on Agent Carter, we were halfway through the second season, and I was happy so far, with a few reservations. And in the end, I don't think my opinion changed much -- the show did a few things I didn't care for, but I had a good time watching it. The season held together as a single story, and it ended in a satisfying manner overall. Except, of course, the final scene, which ended the show on a hell of a cliffhanger (which may now never be resolved). But as for where Peggy herself ended up, I'm reasonably content.

Spoilers! )

There is a fan-created petition asking Netflix to save Agent Carter, with over 80,000 signatures as of this writing. I don't have high hopes for it to succeed, but who knows? In the meantime, I will cherish the two awesome, if imperfect, seasons we received, and hope for Peggy's story to continue in some form. I already got more time with Peggy Carter than I'd dared to dream, and maybe my dreams will come true again someday.
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[personal profile] owlmoose
I was a huge fan of the first season of Agent Carter. I loved pretty much everything about it, but most of all I loved Peggy herself. Peggy Carter has been one of my favorite characters since we first met in Captain America: The First Avenger, but I had long assumed that, because of the time jump in Steve Rogers's story, that we were unlikely to ever see her again, except maybe in an occasional cameo. Her story was done, consigned to the dustbin of Steve's backstory.

And then, suddenly, it wasn't. First came the Agent Carter short, included with the video release of Iron Man 3, and then everyone was clamoring for more. And, by some miracle, Marvel listened, giving us one excellent season and renewing it for a second despite somewhat soft ratings numbers. And truly excellent it was — not perfect, for various reasons, but a solid, engaging show with a wonderful female character at the center. For this reason, I had high hopes for season 2, which premiered in mid-January, with two more episodes than the first (ten instead of eight). As of this writing, we're halfway through the season, and I think that's a fine time to check in with the show and see how it's doing. Short version: pretty well, I'd say, although it hasn't improved on the major flaw of the first season nearly as well as I might have hoped. But they've put us on a heck of a roller coaster, and I can't wait to see where the ride takes us.



Cutting for spoilers through S2E5 )

I can't talk about this show without mentioning its place in the current trend of superhero ladies on the small screen. In the 2015-6 TV season, we've had no fewer than four comics-based shows with female leads and a healthy representation of women among the supporting cast: Agent Carter, Supergirl, Jessica Jones, and Agents of SHIELD (Daisy Johnson is the show's co-lead along with Phil Coulson, and the main cast is about half women). (I don't know enough about the DCU shows outside of Supergirl to comment on whether they fit into this trend.) Meanwhile, movies lag sadly behind, with DC's Wonder Woman set for 2017, and Marvel's Captain Marvel now pushed back twice, into 2018, and no other female-led projects on the horizon. It's so strange to me that we can see female heroes gain critical and popular success in television — not to mention the obvious success of related films with female leads and co-leads such as The Hunger Games series, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens — and yet executives can still claim that making a movie about a female superhero is too risky.

I'm glad to see that Agent Carter continues to prove this assertion wrong, and I hope it keeps doing so for many seasons to come.
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
No one is more surprised than me that I am back on board the Agents of SHIELD train for Season 3. But the second half of Season 2 managed to be fairly compelling television even though I was furious about the midseason finale. There was a narrative that we don't often see between mothers and daughters and the fracturing of Coulson's iron grip on what SHIELD will become in the future. I'm still on Team "Burn it Down" Rogers, but unfortunately it seems like the MCU as a whole has decided that what we should take away from The Winter Soldier isn't caution, but instead a deference to people with powers and skills, because they know best how to deal with large scale alien or super powered threats. The reborn SHIELD seems to be picking up all the same old bad habits, leaving the whole world vulnerable to the impending struggle to fill that power vacuum and claim control. Anyway, politics are complicated and I made a C in Civics, so I'm not too qualified to talk on that point. I'm just here for the feelings. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.


Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena


Xena: Episode 101, "Sins of the Past"


Clare: As I've mentioned, I did not watch Xena: The Warrior Princess growing up, what with being raised by Anglophile French wolves. I did give the pilot a shot a few years ago in college, but I found Gabrielle so annoying that I couldn't make it into the second episode. Luckily, that changed this time around!

Renay: The most I knew about this show is that two of my friends were in love with it and wrote lots of self-insert fic about it, and later, I would discover, lots of Xena/Gabrielle fic that was SUPER GAY but they were always like "no! they're just friends!" even though by that time I was already pretty deep into slash fic and going "wow, this is SO GAY, guys!" I never watched the show because a) I didn't have the right channels and b) I was really bad at serialized shows. I'm better now because of DVD boxsets and Netflix/other streaming, because as all the shows I'm watching now are proving, I'm still REALLY BAD at serialized shows. Waiting is THE WORST. Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
Just when I think that Teen Wolf has gone over too many sharks and I'm going to shunt it aside for more quality television, they do something like "117". It's like finding a treasure chest or a health pack right before a surprise mini-boss. I had fun this episode, and thus, I am appropriately terrified for "Muted", which I'm sure will take all the good feelings this episode engendered, turn them into shards of my hopes and dreams, and sprinkle them at my feet.

Teen Wolf does amazing things when it embraces that its premise is silly and departs from that place rather than trying to manufacture drama. As long as it keeps its eye on the prize of "Maximum LOLs" or "Maximum TEARS", episodes tend to be enjoyable. It's obvious that Jeff Davis wasn't the main writer on this episode because although it gets lobbed at our eyeballs like a 45 minute youtube video by someone who's just learned how to use jump cuts, it manages to stay mildly cohesive. I know zilch about critiquing screenwriting, but seriously, the last ten minutes were exhausting. I want to ask Eoghan O'Donnell if this was on purpose. I had narrative whiplash. O'Donnell wrote "Galvanize", too, which was one of the excellent, tense episodes at the start of Season 3B, but I don't remember it being quite this high-strung. Even more guilt for Derek Hale. )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Korra and Wan, the first Avatar

Last year, Lady Business presented Ana and Jodie's co-review of series one of The Legend of Korra, which sits somewhere between a sequel to and a spin-off from 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'. It's fair to say that as feminists invested in media and huge Avatar fans, we both had a lot of feels about this program and a lot of dreams for series two. Join us as we talk about how the second series played out and whether flying bunnies can soothe a riled critic.

Jodie: Ok, so I feel like we have A LOT to get through in this post. You correctly predicted that I have many emotions about this series, especially related to the use of secondary female characters this series and they are all bashing against each other. Where shall we start?
All the words + spoilers )

Other Reviews and supplemental material:

(Yours?)
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[personal profile] bookgazing
Picture of The Bletchley Circle main cast from series one and two


I know, I know - it seems like only yesterday I was trying to convince you to get your heart broken by investing in a kick-ass TV program that was cancelled far too early. And here I am poking you to watch another cancelled series that has absolutely no hope of being revived. Quit it, Jodie, you say, just quit it.

I think I can win you round though. Yes, even though there are only seven episodes to watch. Yes, even though the actress playing the protagonist left half way through the second series. Yes, even though – look, are we going to have a problem here?!

Anyway, here are five good reasons why I you think I should latch on to "The Bletchley Circle".

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
The clones from Orphan Black drawn like characters from The Simpsons
Source

Last year, the BBC made a major science fiction action/thriller series, helmed by a woman, that made about 50% of the internet lose it. It was never in doubt that opinions about "Orphan Black" would make it onto Lady Business. Join Ana and Jodie as they examine the many amazing faces of Tatiana Maslany, super-actress, and share their thoughts about a story where human cloning has produced a set of interesting, diverse women. As usual, be warned that there will be plenty of spoilers.

Jodie: Tatiana Maslany though.
Read More - Lots and lots more )
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[personal profile] bookgazing


Set in the 14th century, "The White Queen" follows the many fascinating royal and noble women caught up in the dynastic struggles between the houses of Lancaster and York. If you enjoy settling down to a period drama, but are tired of watching various actors parade around as the murderous and lecherous Henry VIII, then this fun drama that celebrates the mixed up, disrupted lives of ladies could be just what you’re looking for.

Your text book is full of spoilers too. )

Supplementary Material

"Freedom at 21" (fan-vid)

Other Reviews

Asking the Wrong Questions
Yours?
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Lady Business underneath. (free tl;dr)
[personal profile] helloladies
Parks and Recreation full cast

"Parks and Recreation", the mockumentary-style adventures of Leslie Knope and the rest of the Pawnee Parks Department, was definitely my favourite TV discovery of 2013. Getting acquainted with these characters over the course of five seasons was a complete delight, and it made me incredibly happy to see Jodie fall for the series as hard as I did. So we're here today to share with you our many, many words of joyful squeeing about everything that makes "Parks and Recreation" so great: the characters, the diversity of the assemble cast (still so rare for a major hit series), and of course the wonderful humour. Along the way we also consider the moments in which "Parks and Rec" defaulted to tired narrative tropes we'd prefer to see gone.

I hope you'll join us for this shameless torrent of words, though those of you who have yet to watch the series should be warned that there will be lots of spoilers. )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Emma stands behind Snow, who is dressed in her curse world contemporary clothes but holds a bow and arrow


Once Upon a Time’s first season brought us a wonderfully campy fantasy show with a cast full of all kinds of women. Its second season lost the thread a little bit, but Jodie and Clare were already hooked. Watch them tackle the show’s second season, from beloved ships to skeevy pirates to the show’s race problem.


Clare has already jumped into season three, while Jodie's UK location as usual puts her woefully behind on the US show gossip. Expect blunt spoilers for season two and vaguer hints about season three. )

Here’s hoping that Once Upon a Time starts being a little more cohesive and lady-centric come season three. Jodie is waiting for season three to come to her side of the Pond. Clare is watching season three Stateside on Sundays with increasing delight and incredulity.
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[personal profile] helloladies
Look, look - the wonderful chaila of underline everything has agreed to return to Lady Business!

chaila's fan-vids, commentary and just down right, over flowing love were the driving influence behind Jodie's rapid consumption of the first series of "The Sarah Connor Chronicles", so we're excited to host a new post by her about this very cool, ruthlessly cancelled program. Come with us if you want to live...or at least have an interest in seeing ladies and robots and lady-robots shape the future.


On a purely descriptive level, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles sounds a lot like a standard part of a sci-fi action movie franchise: Sarah Connor, her son John, and their allies attempt to prevent Skynet, a computer network that destroys the world in the future, from being created. Time travel exists, fighters come back from the future to help them, robots come from the future to hunt them, and sometimes things blow up. But TSCC spins off from its action movie franchise roots to tell a deeply human story that interrogates the basis of all "hero myth" type stories. What I want to focus on in this post are these deconstructive elements, the way TSCC explicitly and implicitly challenges the themes and tropes common in similar stories about "one chosen hero destined to save the world."

One way TSCC does this is by focusing on the surrounding characters, particularly on Sarah, which changes the entire shape of the story. Once the narrative is established as Sarah’s, the show introduces, or increases focus on, several regular characters in season two who in some way question or challenge the dominant myth: Jesse Flores, Riley Dawson, James Ellison, and Catherine Weaver. All of these characters have different viewpoints and beliefs about John and Sarah and about the future. This group of characters, who are not on Team Connor, add so many layers of depth and complexity to the show, and elevate it from a pretty good show about soldiers and family preparing for a future robot apocalypse, to a truly compelling, complex, graceful piece of television that deals with war, loss, robots, the preservation of what makes us human, and how who and what gets written in the book of myth is only a fraction of the story.

To keep this to a manageable word count (haha), I’m going to break it down by the characters I think engage with these ideas the most: the five (FIVE) major female characters in season 2--Sarah, Cameron, Jesse, Riley, and Weaver--and James Ellison. These characters question the recorded history of the future (which is a phrase that makes sense only in a show about time travel), and provide different perspectives on the present and the different options for preventing or fighting the coming war.

Note that this post covers the series as a whole, with spoilers!

Did I mention the FIVE major female characters and James Ellison? )

I will now end this unforgivably long post with two general observations about why TSCC is among my favorite shows ever. First, as I hope is now apparent, TSCC is one of the most female-driven shows I’ve seen, with multiple amazing complex women driving and determining the course of the story. Second, I’d argue that TSCC on a meta level can be read as one giant deconstruction of myth, a meditation on the way that myths or cultural stories function in our lives, particularly in war or times of conflict, how they get built and used and how they differ from historical truth, particularly how they ignore the messy and inconvenient parts that make the story richer and more complicated and more beautiful. TSCC puts all these parts back in, and it elevates the story to something else entirely. The show doesn’t have to be read this way; it can also be watched and enjoyed more straightforwardly as a show about humans fighting against and cooperating with machines, with multiple amazing, complex women. Either way, it’s pretty awesome.

Other Links

The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Series One by Jodie

Episode recaps and discussions at [livejournal.com profile] sccchronicles_tv

Observations about performance and camouflage, femininity and domesticity, among other things, in season one by [personal profile] sanguinity

Vid: there’s a war going on for your mind, sarah by [personal profile] beccatoria
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[personal profile] helloladies
Lady Business+ cover art


Episode #5 — Teen Wolf S3


Renay and Rose once again come together to discuss another beloved, but infuriating, trip to Beacon Hills. We discuss our complicated relationship to Teen Wolf, Derek's status as Jeff Davis's favorite punching bag, and cry tears of perfection about the interpersonal relationships — the one thing the writers seem to understand, because we're convinced they don't understand anything else, especially their own plotlines. Complete spoilers for all seasons of Teen Wolf. Download the episode if you love continuity as much as Jeff Davis hates it.
bookgazing: (Default)
[personal profile] bookgazing
DVD cover showing a Sarah Connor cocking a gun while crouching with her legs spread apart


Here we go again, right?

Looking at this image, it’s hard to deny that "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" is yet another TV program being marketed with tired, exploitatively posed pictures, designed to please straight male culture. While Lena Headey looks hot in this shot, the way she's posed caters to the priorities and gaze of dudes, and indicates to women that just because there are ladies in this program that doesn’t mean that women are welcomed into the fanbase. Get away from that DVD, woman!

In this picture, Headey is posed in a suggestive way with her legs spread to draw the eye to her crotch. That's enough posing for the straight male gaze already, but the image has still more sexual coding to give up. The combination of that crotch shot and the gun in her hands presents another example of how our culture delights in playing with and posing powerful, interesting female characters for the titillation of men. In images like this, guns are positioned as tools of attraction rather than of genuine power. In other words, Sarah may be holding a gun which makes her look powerful, but that power is undercut because of the combination of that gun and the crotch shot which clearly indicates that the important message of this shot is 'girls with guns are sexually attractive and men should get on objectifying them' rather than 'women with guns could take your balls off just because they feel like it'. In this image, Sarah presents as the strong, weapon carrying woman that she is but she is reduced by the way the camera focuses the male gaze.

In other shots on the UK DVD covers, Summer Glau is posed with guns, but in positions which realistically would make it difficult for her to shoot anyone. In this official image, her clothes are deliberately fixed to be suggestively revealing. And as someone who is currently in the middle of watching far too many programs where all the things I want are accompanied by the mass destruction of women in ‘interesting’ ways this image in particular is a bit hard to take:

Cameron's top half hangs from metal supports - she is naked, her long hair barely covering her breasts and below the waist she is dismembered with wires trailing


Dismemberment - just an inconvenient detail if a woman is naked.

Oprah shakes her head, says no and rolls her eyes


All of which means I feel obliged to start this post by suggesting that you not to write off "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" because of these images. I am really excited to talk about the first series of this program because, despite what these marketing images might suggest, this is a program with a healthy respect for women and an interest in female characters. I swear! I mean it has its complicated gender stuff, but look other people agree with me that it is also a program full of women doing interesting things. In between those DVD covers is an awesome story about a female protagonist, the people who are important to her, and killer robots from the future, one of which is here to look at her significantly.

Come on, don’t let some misleading marketing make you miss out on the bullet filled, female-focused fun! )

Reviews and Supplemental Material

The Unbearable Silence of Sabrina Perez
Let's Hear It For the Girls?
tight presents MASTERLIST (vids!)
32 Days of Awesome Women: Day 31 - Sarah Connor
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Spoilers.

Sleepy Hollow title card


I don't know where I heard about Sleepy Hollow, but when I watched the trailer I remember thinking, "Oh my gosh, it's REVOLUTIONARY WAR FANFIC!" Except I was wrong. It's Revolutionary War fanfic with monsters. EVEN BETTER.

I've never been into the Sleepy Hollow story or remix culture. I did watch both the cartoon every Halloween (public schools; thank you) and the 1999 film featuring Christopher Walken as the Horseman and an extremely blonde Christina Ricci, which was passable. It didn't do a lot to stick with me. The draw to this iteration was the main character, Abbie Mills, and all the scenes in the trailer where she's being a smartass with a dude a foot taller than her, and showing off her gun.

The important thing about Sleepy Hollow is a) that this is full on shameless crossover fanfic and b) that it's fully aware of the batshit premise it has to work within. It decides, "You know what? Gun it." The first episode is chock full of dramatics, including but not limited to: mystery caves, demon horses, George Washington as a defender against dark forces, nefarious trees, badass witches, cultural retconning, long-kept secrets, sassy quips, and gunfights over pickled heads. I went in with my expectations low. I came out with the firm belief that for a pilot about the apocalypse the entire episode was perfection and that Abbie is my new hero.



A summary of the episode, or, the Official Trailer.


Hold on to your head. )
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[personal profile] bookgazing


Let me settle which version of "The Returned" I’m talking about right away. The piece of media I’m talking about is a French language series, named Les Revenants. A subtitled version of its first series was shown on UK TV this year. I am not talking about the planned US TV series, "Resurrection", which is an English language series that was originally going to be titled "The Returned" because it is based on the novel "The Returned" by Jason Mott. Although Les Revenants and Jason Mott’s "The Returned" are based on a similar premise (the dead return - not as decomposing, shambling zombies but as functioning human beings that look just as they did before they died) they aren’t related in any other way. Are you more confused than that time two films about Truman Capote were released in the same year? Don’t worry, it gets easier and more fun from here.

Lots of spoilers )


Supplemental Materials

Digital Spy: The Returned - All the Unanswered Burning Questions in One Place
The Guardian: "The Returned series finale - were you disappointed?"
Den of Geek: "Does This Hold Answers to The Returned's Mysteries?"
The Metro: "The Returned finale - 7 Theories to Take Us Into Season 2

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