Taming the independent woman, I mean, shrew
I’ve been watching a cute little show called “Benched” about a high powered lawyer who for reasons unknown because I didn’t see the pilot, is now working in the public defender’s office.
She’s smart, dedicated, hard-working, attractive, well-dressed and certainly no pushover. I enjoyed the show till I began to grasp—after only 2 or 3 episodes—the overarching character arc is for the main character to learn to be likable. The fact that she’s competent, hard-working and successful is all well and good, but a woman should be all those things PLUS LIKABLE. Especially if, in the case of this show, she’s better at her job than her male counterparts.
She’s too driven, too competent. The other guys in her office (guys) are slackers. They’ve learned the system, they’re sure all their defendants are guilty, they play witty little games in court at their clients’ expense. She, on the other hand, works hard for her clients, but apparently for the wrong “moral” reason: She like to win. If I were her client, I wouldn’t care if her motivation to get me declared innocent was a $10 bet, I’d just appreciate her efforts.
Every day when she arrives at work, they all take pot-shots at her outfits. If something happens like she spills coffee on her outfit, they think it’s not just funny, but deserved. This, to me, is the very definition of hostile workplace.
A much more interesting character arc would be she inspires the jaded male lawyers to step up and practice some actual law.
The reason this troubles me is that several times lately within writing community, I’ve seen authors talking about “the taming of the strong woman” as a theme. Of course, they don’t realize that’s quite what they’ve said, but—sigh—they have.
I find this trend (is it a trend?) disturbing. Have we come only a short way, baby?
I won’t be watching “Benched” any more.