Recently, my husband and I have been watching The X-Files, and have switched over to Stargate: Atlantis. Some of the early X-Files were great, mostly stuff before season 5. The later seasons got kinda… meh… and the new stuff? Doing the same stuff the last few seasons did, injecting humor and cheap jokes where there doesn’t need to be. But I digress…
One of the things that bothered me about The X-Files, despite it being a looooong running plot point, is Dana Scully as a Mother. In the cult-favorite show “Home”, Mulder even says, “I never pictured you as a mother.” (or something to that effect) And it felt like that was a big turning point in how we, the audience, was supposed to see Scully. Not this relatively young FBI agent looking to prove herself. Not a scientist who was supposed to look only at the facts. Not a doctor who could analyze the apparently supernatural and explain it in terms of physical or mental causes. A potential mother.
Another point that started to bug me later on was the whole Mulder-Scully relationship. Working and personal. Their working relationship was almost always the male-dominated type, with Mulder’s off-the-wall theories and speculations taking a front seat, and Scully having to provide mountains of evidence to the contrary. And Mulder STILL believing his “gut” instinct a huge percentage of the time. Never mind that she was so much smarter in so many areas, he ran off chasing hunches leaving her to play damage control. (And the personal bit? Well… seriously, can’t guys and girls ever just be friends??? Why is it always about sex?)
Anyway… as the series started to deteriorate in our eyes, we decided to try out Stargate: Atlantis. I wasn’t sure how I’d take to it, as I really, really did not like Dr. McKay in SG-1. He was so *arrogant* and hated that Dr. Carter (Major Carter? Dr. Major? I don’t know how these titles work…) might actually be as smart or smarter than him. But, 2 1/2 seasons in, I actually like his character. WTF?
Husband mentioned this today, and it really got me thinking. He said he really like McKay better than Carter, because he was a much more believable character. His role just seemed more authentic. So… queue pondering.
I think Carter’s character is authentic. I think the difference is that the personality of McKay is much more visible and known than Carter’s. Confident to the point of arrogant, white male. Knows he’s smarter than everyone in the room, and isn’t afraid to tell everybody why he’s right and they’re wrong. If they tried to write Carter’s character like that? She’d be called bossy or a bitch. They had to write her more like a typical female, even if she was frequently the smartest person in the room. Not as confident, needing to justify herself more, asking instead of telling, her abilities being questioned…
[Side note: I think how the handled Carter & O’Neill was much better than Mulder & Scully. They knew they couldn’t be together, so they weren’t. It sucked and it hurt, but they knew better. I think that’s more realistic. Of course, I’m not in life-or-death situations with other people, so maybe that changes things…]
Do I like Carter? Yes, a ton, I loved seeing a female on screen that was not only a lead scientist, but with the strength that comes through being in the military. I’m torn on whether or not I like how they wrote her. Is she believable? As a fellow female who once aspired to be a scientist, yes, I think so. Is she a good role model? For the current societal conditions, yeah. Could they have been more forward thinking, and made her more confident and out-spoken? Written her as what could be instead of what is? Oh yeah.
But I guess I’m not going to complain too much. At least women are making in on screen in roles that ARE believable, and ARE things that we can all aspire to. Even if it’s showing us how things are, the struggles that women do face today, at least we aren’t hiding these things. At least the women aren’t just there for eye-candy (although they usually are all depressingly in-shape and pretty…) and they’re showing that women CAN do these things. We CAN be confident, we CAN be heard, we CAN be taken seriously.
One step at a time…