Feminism Friday: Telly and gender

Recently, I watched the first couple of episodes of a rather epic television series called Game of Thrones. Yes, I know, I’m quite slow to pick up on this one as it debuted in the US this time last year, but do bear with me on this. I watched the first episode and, until the final scenes, the thing that was most memorable to me was the godawful gender stereotyping.

OK, so it’s sort of set in the past but, If you’re creating a fantasy world, you don’t actually have to conform to the rules that medieval British society followed. So why were the girls learning embroidery and the boys brushing up on their fighting skills? Why were the women all doormats or prostitutes? I assume from the love that has been lavished on this adaptation by many people that things will improve, so I shall give it a few more episodes before I decide, but it did make me think about why I love some of the other shows that are on my watch list.

Two of my absolute favourites are Fringe and Castle and, coincidentally, both have pretty amazing female leads. In Fringe, Anna Torv plays FBI Agent Olivia Dunham and, in Castle, Stana Katic plays NYPD Detective Kate Beckett. Both women are strong, intelligent and outstandingly good at what they do, but they’re never presented as anything other than human beings with all the flaws that even brilliant people have. Both shows even have interesting older female characters too – Fringe has the enigmatic Nina and Castle has the wise yet whimsical Martha – thus highlighting the distinct lack of decent parts for women over 50 elsewhere.

There are so many amazing roles for female actors these days that it really shows when writers haven’t really bothered. Still, there are far more decent parts for women in television than there are in movies. I wonder how many years it’ll be before that situation improves?

UPDATE: I’ve watched the first series of Game of Thrones now and can totally see why people love it so much. There are so many strong female characters in it! If you haven’t watched it yet, you shuld definitely check it out.