Nov 27

walter and skyler white

I watch a lot of shows and while many of them have such dynamic and different stories, the recurring theme seems to be that of the annoying female supporting character. Typically a wife (Skyler White) or a sister (Janice Soprano), these women playing support roles are hardly ever… supportive.

I am finally on the 5th season of Breaking Bad and Walter White’s wife and her sister (the only 2 women on the show) seem to only exist to piss me off. A while back HBO’s Newsroom did 2 amazing things in making every intelligent woman on the show appear to be a bumbling idiot and in making me a fan of Olivia Munn. The fact that aside from Munn (who some will argue was hateable) every woman on the show was unbearable.

The trend is broken by a few popular shows like The Walking Dead (which has a nice balance of good and bad women), True Blood and Spartacus. I can understand that there are many shows that I do not watch but why is it that 90% of the ones I do feature only women as minor annoyances in the men’s lives?

Sinnerman77 of provides a great explanation for this:

“Most TV shows we’re talking about are male centric. The protagonist and most important supporting characters are male. Also, the antagonist is male, more often than not. How many shows can you think of with a male protagonist and a female arch enemy? Not bloody many.

This leaves less important supporting roles for the women. These roles only serve to move the story forward or to tell you something about the main characters. They don’t really get to develop as people themselves.

Story is driven by conflict, so more often than not the main character has some minor conflict with the supporting female characters. These conflicts can’t be as big or important as the conflict with the antagonist so it ends up being smaller, petty stuff.

When you’ve got petty conflict with an underdeveloped character, you’ve got an annoying character.”

bsg sharon and helo

This has to be one of the best explanations for this very popular subject that I have ever read but others seem to think it is some underlying conspiracy to make women seem cruel on a massive male-run media scale. But  you have to admit–all crazy secret society theories aside–it is very noticeable and a bit sad.

For the record I tend to love the shows that mixes in the positive, ride-or-die, supportive female across from the selfish, brow-beating, angry standard. Shows like Battlestar Galactica, StarGate, Star Trek, and Firefly have shown that complex characters should come in both sexes.  Bonus points if you noticed that I named all Sci-Fi shows…

What do you think denizens, have you noticed this crazy trend in popular shows?

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