Telewitterings: diamonds and décolletage

First: Squee! Tonight we all get new Doctor Who!! And over the next month, many other good things will head back in our direction: here at Chez Dua, we’re stoked about Revenge (no, really!), Smash, and a new trio of Wallanders.

But in the meantime, we’ve been scraping the sides of, and what we’ve found most recently is Damages.

Damages, like Revenge, Like Smash, is–as we put it at my house–chickly. Its alpha character is Glenn Close, who is a fierce litigation lawyer with an apparent zest for righting the wrongs of very rich men. The bright-eyed questy character, played by Rose Byrne, is a first-year lawyer named Ellen Parsons. Like Sidney Bristow of Alias, she starts off the pilot with a handsome doctor boyfriend fiancé. Like the would-be Mister Sidney, he’s gonna end up in the same place. Pretty much exactly the same place, now that I think of it.

Alias, I think you’ll agree, isn’t about much beyond “Yay, Jennifer Garner is dangling from a harness in pursuit of an improbable artifact, wearing a skimpy outfit and a new wig and fighting with her father and her love interest on comms! Go Jennifer go!” Believe me when I saw, I was all for that. And Revenge, mostly, is about opera-scale dramatics–rich-people fighting at fancy parties, wearing pretty dresses and threatening to claw each others’ eyeballs. It’s pretty much Kraft Dinner with diamonds and décolletage.

Damages, Smash and Political Animals (a recent mini-series starring Sigorney Weaver as a Hilary Clinton type), on the other hand, are all exploring the idea of women with ambition. Men, naturally, are allowed to have ambition. Nobody much questions it when some fellow wants to grow up to be a billionaire captain of industry or the star of a musical about Marilyn Monroe or a Joint Chief of Staff or leader, as they say, of the free world. It’s barely worthy of note, really, unless he’s MacBeth and ready to kill and kill again just for the throne of Scotland. But the characters in these shows I’m watching now have big dreams. The undercurrent of the story is: go for it, ladies, but do expect to pay. Your relationships will fail, your kids–if you’re silly enough to attempt to nurture life–will hate you, you’ll make enemies and move through a world full of people looking to chop you off at the knees. All for having the temerity to reach.

I’m not saying there’s never been a show that dug into this before, but this seems like a bit of a surge. Are there others on now? Are you watching any of the above? What do you all think of this?

It’s okay if the answer is Mmmm, pasta.

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About Alyx Dellamonica

After twenty-two years in Vancouver, B.C., I've recently moved to Toronto Ontario, where I make my living writing science fiction and fantasy; I also review books and teach writing online at UCLA. I'm a legally married lesbian, a coffee snob, and I wake up at an appallingly early hour.

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