I like entertainment as much as anyone else, but I’m afraid I’m getting very jaded. Possibly more so now than ever as I round the horn into middle age and everything available just looks increasingly like More of the Same.
I objected to Big Brother when it was new. To my eyes, reality television is neither reality nor television. Just like white chocolate is neither white nor chocolate.
Anyway, onwards to my actual point.
I have, until recently, been watching a show called Hart of Dixie. I thought it was going to be a medical drama based loosely on Doc Hollywood, a fish-out-of-water movie I happened to love.
About one in five episodes was actually about anything medical. And even then, it was mostly about Zoe Hart [I can almost hear the TV exec’s crowing about how clever they are, there], the alleged lead character, being put into situations that made her look like an idiot to the highly judgemental population of the fictional town of Bluebelle.
Props where props are due, they do actually have one platonic male-female relationship. Between the token black male, Mayor Levon Hayes, and the title
ditz female lead, Zoe Hart.
But as the show goes on, I am increasingly less certain that this doesn’t smack of some variety of subliminal racism.
When we’re introduced to Zoe, she’s a capable go-getter with a Plan that goes awry because she has no bedside manner [exqueeze me? Would that excuse work on a male doctor?] and thus has to take the only other job available to her in the entirety of America [wat] a GP in a pissant whitebread southern town that almost qualifies for Village that Time Forgot.
And this is where Zoe Hart begins her slow descent into Neurotic High-Maintenance Bitchville. The stereotype to end all stereotypes. Because you, apparently, aren’t a Real Woman™ unless you got yourself a MAN to lust after.
So, in order to put Zoe in her place, something that happens a lot in every single episode, she’s physically humiliated, intimidated [if the pet gator counts] talked down to, ostracised, and makes an enemy of the town’s chief allegedly-Real-Woman™ Lemon Breelan.
Lemon herself is a study in neurotic femininity, but we’re expected to let it slide because her mother left and she’s tying herself in knots to placate the eager-to-gossip-horde of Bluebelle. Her neuroses are allegedly okay because she’s at least trying to be a proper woman […as opposed to an ice-cream woman?] and keep hold of her MAN by a series of increasingly passive-aggressive ploys that, no shock to me, completely turned him off the whole deal.
This is all supposed to be because of Zoe Hart and her increasingly voluminous set of neuroses and barely concealed lust for a white cis-MAN who actually knows what a latte is in this one-horse town.
Seriously, that’s all he’s got going for him. He knows City-slicker talk and Zoe can talk to him without having to explain every third word.
Then there’s Zoe’s neighbour, who’s name I have honestly forgotten. Calling his character a cardboard cut-out would be an insult to cardboard because that stuff has actual depth. But we’re supposed to feel sorry for him because he has an alcoholic daddy who climbs up on roofs and threatens suicide about twice a season.
This guy is the epitome of white cis-male privilege. He walks around like the world owes him a favour and insults women so that they’ll have sex with him. Read that again: He insults women into having sex with him.
And if he wants another round? All he has to do is insult their technique and bam! Instant score.
I think his name is Wade… Correct me if I’m wrong. This is a man who drifts aimlessly between Nowhere and Losertown and somehow expects a mix of unmitigated misogyny, stereotypical insults, and overall I-wouldn’t-want-you-if-you-were-dipped-in-chocolate attitude to have the ladies queueing up to prove they’re decent in the sack.
And it works.
The remaining characters of Bluebelle hardly get a mention, any more. Not the Token Asian. Not the Token Black Gay [Ooo! Look! We’re progressive and edgy! Not]. And most definitely not the Token Nerd Girl who almost had herself a role model with Zoe Hart.
We’re supposed to accept the new Token Black Female Go-Getter who only exists to contrast how needy and neurotic both Zoe and Lemon have become over the space of one whole season. Now season two is possibly going to have this new lady compete with both Zoe and Lemon for a man that at least Zoe had no previous interest in, the oh-so-wonderful mayor. Meanwhile, said female go-getter with her own cosmetics line [her sole point of interest, since it’s been mentioned three times in one episode] is going to be slowly transformed into a neurotic ball of passive-aggressive whiny need by none other than self-appointed God’s-gift-to-women, Wade.
And that’s why I’m not watching, any more.
It’s failing the Bechdel test [Put any two women together and they’re going to talk about MEN], it’s failing the Strong Character test [Are any of these people going to surprise me and do something intelligent?] and it’s failing to hold my interest because I can accurately predict an entire episode.
Once I can accurately predict an entire episode, [and not in the fun way, which generally involves predicting dead bodies, or nailing the next line] it ceases becoming enjoyable and starts getting depressing.
I do not watch TV to get depressed. I can do that just fine in Real Life.
So give me a show where a strong female lead knows what she wants and doesn’t need a MAN, and can successfully hold a platonic relationship with every gender [there’s more than two!], and IF they get involved with anyone on a sexual level, it’s a relationship where they’re a fucking TEAM… or just GTFO.
Thankyou, and good night.