English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: Killjoys

Dutch – The Key of Killjoys

The whole series of KillJoys have revolved around Dutch, D’avin and John each of them with a unique personality affecting the interesting relationships between. In this last blog, I’ll be performing an in-depth analysis of the personalities, actions and backgrounds of Dutch, exploring the implications of her character and the contribution towards the KillJoys series as a whole.




Played by actress Hannah John-Kamen, Dutch is one of the first characters we get to know at the beginning of season 1. As the leader of a Killjoys team, Dutch is a bounty hunter of the quad. Being a tough and intelligent character, Dutch has a fun-loving and bold personality. In each of the missions Dutch and her team goes on, we can always see Dutch making quick and decisive decisions. Whether it is fending off an enemy attack or confronting one of the villains, Dutch can often be seen well-thought decisions within a few seconds achieving her strategical goals. However, just like how Dutch’s other side is hidden from us, Dutch herself is protective deep under. Although she is great at gaining trust from others as seen from her ability to temporary pretend to get along with other characters such as Delana and Khlyen, she herself rarely trusts others. Although this presents Dutch’s personality of a protective mentality very well, it also results in the audience to be perplexed.

From the beginning, many of Dutch’s actions have been hard to understand. For example, her indecisiveness in the mission to capture Big Joe and her relationship with Aneela and Alvis. It is only when we as the audience are revealed Dutch’s past – born from a wealthy family, being forced to join a harem, tortured by Khlyen and ending up in the Quad – that we finally start to have a better understanding of some of Dutch’s actions in past episodes. We also begin to understand why Dutch seem to have an upper-class etiquette especially in her interaction with The Nine and the decisions she makes, answering various questions that have arisen throughout.


Dutch on the Mission After Big Joe


Although this gradual reveal of Dutch’s background and inner self throughout the series added an element of uncertainty and suspense into the plot, it has, on the other hand, hindered the development of the connection between the audience and Dutch and their ability to sympathise with her. Instead audiences, just like me are more likely to sympathise with D’avin instead, who was known early on to have a traumatic past as a soldier and a broken relationship with his brother. Although this does not affect the show’s ability to attract and keep its audience, it does inhibit the show from its goal altering female’s character on TV.


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Intermate Relationship between Dutch and D’avin


Nonetheless, we should not overlook KillJoys success in portraying a female “superhero” who encompasses the characteristics of a traditional male superhero but supplemented by stereotypical female trait. It also brings out the fact that woman or anyone in general shouldn’t be defined by their past, with determination and staying tough, no dreams are too far to reach.

Small Choices of Camera Make Big Differences

With the rise of online streaming and various alternative television channels, low budget television shows have been on the rise again. Although these TV shows might have been produced with a small budget, many of them are still able to capture the attention of its audience just like the major blockbusters, with prime examples being KillJoys and in movies the Hallmark movies.

Coping with its low budget, we don’t see fancy CGI being used in Killjoys and it is often shot on simple sets, while the external locations are usually just old factories or farms. What made Killjoys enjoyable and stood out among other TV shows was its near excellent use of cinematography. It’s uses of camera angles and how it designed the compositions of the scenes, effectively constructed the atmospheres of each scene while building up the personality of the characters in the show. Today, we shall be discussing how effective cinematography has propelled Killjoys to its success.


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Example of how a tense atmosphere is constructed just by the cinematography


Have you ever wondered why your focus has always fallen on Dutch while watching the series? Don’t worry, this isn’t something wrong on your part. In fact, it is something the director wanted its audience to do. Apart from Dutch having a longer screen time than the two other main characters (individually), notice how when Dutch is on screen with other characters, she is often placed in the centre of the screen. Although just watching through the episodes, it is pretty hard to notice its effects, as on first sight the characters will be seen on the same ground by us. However, as cognitive misers, especially we turn our brain off while watching TV, what is at the centre of the screen easily becomes our centre of interest. The director’s use of screen composition subtly guides us on who to focus. We usually won’t notice this, but it is this extra time we focus on Dutch, especially when she is with other characters that lead us to become more connected with her over the other. This allows the screenwriters to ultimately “force” a bond between the audience and Dutch.



How Dutch is the Center of Interest


Throughout the series, we are also often given the feeling that Dutch is a woman with a strong character and excellent fighting ability. Apart from the actions she has been seen doing – single-handedly fending off a whole group of mercenaries or directly confronting Delle an Aneela, as you can guess the use of camera also plays a great role here.  Indeed, this can be attributed to the use of low angles shots for Dutch in the show. Same as the reason why your friends might like to take low angle photos, low angle photos can make a person seem more confident and stronger. It makes a person taller and, in the process, distorting body portions resulting in a misjudgment by the audience. The director of Killjoys plays around with this effect, allowing Dutch to remain more confident and dominant over other characters even in crises, strengthening her image while preserving a natural storyline.


A video on the effects of camera angles:


Killjoys – Revolutionizing Gender Norms on Television

By now you should have now realised KillJoys is known for having a female show creator, and it shouldn’t surprise you the way women are portrayed in KillJoys is unlike most other TV Shows.

Female show-creators, although aren’t rare, isn’t common either. KillJoys is exceptional because it has a female creator who truly had her own say, allowing the adoption and portrayal of characters which is unlike most popular TV shows. Female characters in the show consist of a wild spectrum, from the lead protagonist and hero such as Dutch to the antagonist and extremely evil characters such as Delle and Aneela. Although all the female characters may have varying motives, they can all be called a hero as each of them undoubtedly had their own heroic moments. Even the most nefarious female villain in the show, who have unquestionably committed unspeakable crimes, are presented their other side of their sense of inarguable rightness and greater motive, which manages to win over the audience’s sympathy and admiration over the long run.


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Delle Seyah Kendry in Killjoys

Just as female villains aren’t necessarily manipulative like how they are often portrayed in popular culture, a protagonist is neither always heroic or selfless. Dutch as a prime example has often veered off to her self-desires during missions, most notably trying he save her “mentor” regardless of knowing the crime he had committed. On the other hand, Dutch’s background is also gradually revealed during season 2 – turns out she was from a wealthy family. From Dutch’s perspective, here background is full of sorrows, although this was questioned in season 3 when alternatives of Dutch’s background events were revealed. Afterall just like the villains maybe Dutch was trying to gain sympathy.

But then when you add the questionable acts of “The Company ” and Killjoys and the story mostly told from Dutch’s perspective, who knows who’s the actual villain of the Quad.

Nonetheless, the portrayal of Dutch as the captain of the team and the ship, while seemingly holding a monopoly over power allow females to reach a new height within popular TV culture. This also defies the social norms TV shows have always been engraining us with. Dutch is a fighter, an assassin, a killer and a strategist; something females wouldn’t have been portrayed as in TV just a decade before. At the same time, Dutch doesn’t lead a team of female fighters. Instead, both of her team members – John and D’avin – are both men. Dutch as a female dominates men, reversing the stereotype of males being dominant over women. The character of Dutch on television definitely revolutionize popular culture while its appeal towards the audience and the success it has achieved speaks for the gender imbalance in television women have always been enduring.


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Dutch leading the charge in season 1 episode 4

Killjoys have certainly made a great stride forward in how females are portrayed in television shows. However, apart from how women are portrayed, KillJoys have also made a breakthrough in season 3 – the cast of a large number of disabled actors. Read more about it here.

The “Personality” of Annmarie Morais’ KillJoys Episode

Throughout season 1 and 2, the different episodes of KillJoys were written and directed by various people. Although the central theme and storyline remain constant within season 1, if we look hard enough the “personality” of each episode can often be found here or there.

Today, I’ll be writing about the “personality” – writing aspect of one of the episodes in KillJoys, S1 E6, “One Blood”. Without a doubt, this is one of the episodes I believe to be the most interesting to analyse.

Written by Annmarie Morais, directed by Michael Nankin, the episode “One Blood” first aired on July 24, 2015, follows Dutch and her teams’ journey as they respond to a Black Warrant for a rogue Killjoy – Big Joe, who was wanted for stealing from company ships. It was later revealed that he had stolen a genetic bomb (although it is believed that he did not know what it is). After overcoming various obstacles, and revealing reasons, Dutch and her team finally finds Big Joe who in the end was voluntarily killed.


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Big Joe After Being Found By Dutch


To understand how and why a television show is written in a particular way, it is essential for us to understand the lead writer’s background. The writer of our episode, Annmarie Morais was born in Jamaica in 1973 to a Jamaican-Canadian family.  Annmarie Morais works as both a writer and producer and have won the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting in 1999. She is well-known for her involvement in hit TV shows such as Killjoys (2015), How She Move (2007) and Haven (2010). From a quick look at her profile, we can easily notice Annmarie Morais has been involving greatly in television shows featuring a “strong” and inspiring female lead character.


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Annmarie Morais


Annmarie Morais’ involvement in Killjoys and her leading role in episode 6, which we are focusing on, certainly brought in her style with her. This can be seen in the episode through how Dutch faced one obstacle after another; first disagreements within the team, then finding out her target is her respected mentor, afterwards getting abducted, but still staying strong and assertive throughout. This is pretty much unlike the other episodes by different writers where Dutch would often fall back a bit and have her team take over the lead such as that of “Sugar Point Run”. Furthermore, the whole episode is written with Dutch as the centre of focus throughout while for other episodes it’s usually an equal split between Dutch and her teammates. Moreover, the discussions between characters in also considerably more dominated by Dutch in this particular episodes, especially when she holds the monopoly over the decision making.


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Dutch and Her Team


Although Annmarie Morais is not known as feminist, her toughness and strong female character have indeed leaked into her writing, making her episode of Killjoys filled with its own kind of unique personality, just like her other television works. However, how much of this is due to Annmarie Morais’ influence and how much is from the writing team as a whole is certainly debatable.

Killjoys Experiences with a New Theme – Non-Sexual Relationships

Today, we’ll be exploring the themes present in “Killjoys”. Since you’re back, I expect that you have a genuine interest in “Killjoys” and have already watched it. I’ll try to minimize the number of spoilers, but if you are still worried you may consider watching the first 5 episodes before reading on.


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Michelle Lovretta


In August 2015, the showrunner of the Killjoys series Michelle Lovretta interviewed with Veronica Scott of USA Today – Happy Ever After. In the interview, Michelle points out one of the major themes that ran through season 1 of Killjoys – a “non-sexual relationship” between characters of different genders. In fact, the sexual relationship of main characters with others of opposite sex have become somewhat defining of television shows since the 2000s. This includes major hits such as Jane the Virgin, Game of Thrones and The Good Place, which have featured sexual relationships between characters of opposite gender (or sometimes the same) as one of the storylines, for some being the entire driving force of the show.


Hannah John-Kamen as Dutch and Luke Macfarlane as D'avin on Killjoys. (Photo: Syfy.com)

Main Characters Dutch and D’avin of Killjoys


Michelle’s Killjoys certainly proves that sexual relationship between characters within a TV show isn’t the key to a successful series. Adopting a non-sexual relationship theme, the relationship between Dutch and Johnny, as well as D’avin who joins later on, is more of a brother and sister relationship. They certainly do not have any sexual affection towards each other (please don’t argue the relationship between Johnny and Lucy is), and none of their action and the decisions they make can be attributed it. Instead, the whole season is progressed by the values of each character, both similar and different, such as families, friends and loyalty. The departure from using sexual relationships as a storyline and adopting a non-sexual relationship theme brings out the brotherhood and sisterhood in the series together with the added benefit of making the motives of characters appear much brighter. At the same time, this usage of the theme of non-sexual relationship criticises the overgeneralisation of sexual relationship in pop culture while providing an alternative for the audience.


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Lucy in Killjoys


Furthermore, the successful adoption of a non-sexual relationship theme demonstrates romance isn’t essential for TV shows to grasp the attention of its audience. Instead, one without could still have the same elements of action, sympathy and arguments while being more easily understandable and relatable. This provides the audience with a completely different experience, probably one that the general population would easily connect and relate to. After all, not everyone has experienced or like romance, while on the contrary, everyone has experienced some kind of brotherhood/sisterhood.

This brings us to what this theme of non-sexual relationship contributes. While it certainly makes us reflect how pop culture has been overusing sexual-relationship to capture audiences’ attention, it also brings out the decisions we as human beings often must make; what is more important? Family? Friend? Loyalty? Responsibilities …… In case you need a reminder, life is not always a choice between who do you love or choosing between a sexual relationship or something else.


Liszewski, Bridget. “KILLJOYS’ MICHELLE LOVRETTA WRITES WHAT SHE LOVES”. Thetvjunkies.Com, 2016, https://www.thetvjunkies.com/killjoys-michelle-lovretta-writes-what-she-loves/. Accessed 11 Sept 2018.

Sara-goodwin. “Interview: Killjoys’ Tamsen McDonough Talks Fan Experiences, Playing a Spaceship & Being Part of the MCU.” The Mary Sue, The Mary Sue, 1 Nov. 2016, www.themarysue.com/interview-killjoys-tamsen-mcdonough/. Accessed 12 Sept 2018.

Scott, Veronica. “Interview: Michelle Lovretta, Creator of SyFy’s ‘Killjoys’.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 29 June 2016, happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2015/08/20/veronica-scott-killjoys-michelle-lovretta-interview/. Accessed 11 Sept 2018.



Not Ruining a Space Opera with Boorish Behavior +1.3

Hi everyone! My name is Schuler Kleinfelter, and I’m a Music Technology major. I expect to graduate in 2022, but a victory lap isn’t entirely out of the question. Previously I’ve taken pretty standard English courses. I really enjoyed the analytical nature of AP Lang, and I despised the often-subjective and muddled nature of AP Lit. My favorite part of communication is phrasing and presenting my verbal or written communications in funny ways. I tend to struggle with nonverbal communication, mostly because I overthink it. I’ll spend so much time thinking about how to communicate what I want to nonverbally that I’ll miss my opportunity to actually do so. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve that this semester, although it will probably just take practice over time.

I never had cable TV as a kid, so I pretty much only watched PBS Kids and Sunday cartoons on The CW. I got Netflix a few years ago, and I’ve definitely spent more time watching it than I should have, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone to ridiculous levels with bingewatching. Almost all the shows that I’ve watched have been funny shows, but they haven’t been comedies first-and-foremost. I’ve watched procedural crime shows like Psych and Bones; space operas like Firefly and Dark Matter; fantasy adventure shows such as Doctor Who and The Magicians; fun science shows such as Mythbusters and The White Rabbit Project; and DC shows like Young Justice and Supergirl. I have very little experience with shows in which the main focus of the show is the relationships between characters or with shows in which the comedy is the main focus, because I tend to prefer shows where the comedy and drama are grounded by a central plot (as opposed to shows where the plot is secondary to the drama or comedy). So shows such as Jane The Virgin — where it’s easier to count the characters that haven’t diddled each other than the ones who have — will be new to me.

I have chosen to review Killjoys because it’s a space opera, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the other space operas that I’ve watched.

Killjoys Poster Art (click here for original image URL)

For anyone wondering, a space opera is a scifi show set largely in space (who would have guessed?) including elements such as daring adventure, interplanetary battles, advanced weaponry, chivalry, and characters with special abilities. The most famous of which is Star Wars.

Killjoys is about three bounty hunters called Killjoys who chase down warrants throughout an area of space called the Quad which is on the brink of a class war.

Fun Fact: before I decided on Killjoys I was considering sense8, and my title for this blog post would have been “A Sense8tional Introduction.”

New Blog Series on KillJoys

Welcome to my new blog where I will be writing about my thoughts and feelings towards various Television Shows.

For those of you who don’t know who I am, I am Terence Lui, a freshman of fall 2018 from Hong Kong studying at the Georgia Institute of Technology. This is my first time studying aboard. I am currently majoring in mechanical engineering and I expect to graduate in the year 2022. I know some of you are interested in my English background, here is a brief overview of it.


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Hong Kong – My Hometown


The English course I am currently taking, English-1102 on Television and Feminism, is my first English course at Gatech and the first college-level English course I have taken. However, I took 2 Years of English A – Language and Literature in the International Baccalaureate program back in high school and another year in pre-IB. For the rest of my 15 years of education, English classes have mostly been focused on grammar and reading skills. I must admit, English writing is definitely not where my strength lies. Instead, I would say I’m good at infographics (Visual Communication). Nonetheless, by the end of this semester, I hope to improve both my oral and written communication skills in English. As often, I struggle with speaking and writing confidently while also unable to convey my ideas clearly using such means. The reason of which probably lies in the major factors such as accent, word choice and sentence structure. By the end of this semester, I hope to become more confident and skillful in both oral and written communication.

In this series of blog, I’ll be reviewing the first season of the Canadian TV Show “Killjoy”, which was first released on June 19, 2015. As a note, television drama has never been my thing, no matter North American TV shows nor Chinese ones. Instead, I usually watch documentaries or the news as well as factual YouTube videos especially those on tech or history and I enjoy them really much. So, please forgive me for any misunderstanding or misinterpretation I may have towards television shows.


Trailer of KillJoys Season 1


Why did I choose to review Killjoys? This is actually quite complicated. But to sum it all up, I have always been interested in sci-fi books and movies and I especially enjoyed movies such as Interstellar and Star Trek. Killjoys have been recommended to me by my professor, and it fits perfectly into my narrow window of interest, so I am going to give it a try (and probably watch a season a day as I’m bad at stopping myself).

Hope everyone will enjoy my upcoming blog posts, see you soon.


“Cruises Travelling to Hong Kong, China | Star Cruises.” Asia Pacific Cruises, www.starcruises.com/sg/en/destinations/hongkong.

spacechannelvideos. YouTube, YouTube, 6 Apr. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST9OkLjTu9Q.

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