English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: topic4

Pregnancy – a call to empowerment

Whiskey Lullaby, the sixth episode of the second season of Wynonna Earp, is a complex and messy affair. The little town of Purgatory, where all the demon revenant affairs have been occurring for more than a century, has been put under a sleeping spell for a very long time, enough time for our pregnant protagonist Wynonna to start showing. This is the result of the Widows’ magic, as they are trying to buy enough time to find and reopen a portal that Wynonna closed. As Wynonna Earp is more of a lighthearted, story telling, demon butt kicking show as opposed to one with an obvious social commentary, the argument of the episode is not immediately eminent. After a bit of pondering, I honestly feel like the show is arguing that strong women exist and being petty is sad in this episode. Wynonna just discovers that she is pregnant, and with the time that is stolen she is forced to fight a sorcerer and two witch wives while strongly showing (and the actress was actually really pregnant with her own baby while filming!). Later in the episode, one of the possible fathers of Wynonna’s child shoots and kills the sorcerer, who while is a demon, is also a harmless old man. He does that out of rage against Wynonna, and the writers show him as a heartless and jealous mess to convey the idea that it would be dumb to do petty things.

Nun reporting the murder of a priest at the hands of the widows.


Although the show is, once again, not a social commentary as much as it is a fantasy show about fighting demons, the underlying theme is undeniably a charge for feminism. With a female show writer, female lead actress, and a diverse cast, Wynonna Earp is one of the most empowering shows for gender equality on air right now. By adding a pregnancy storyline, the show once again tackles the scenarios that haven’t been represented on television before because of the lack of female fighter protagonists. With this, it is clear that Wynonna Earp is calling for society to embrace females as heroes.

Grey’s Anatomy is all about YOLO

Grey’s Anatomy can often be a quite emotionally packed television show, playing with ones emotions as people die left and right. As someone who is not generally a “cry-er”, I can attest to this fact. I think this has been done to send a clear message to the viewers that life is short and to make the best of it and don’t live with any regrets.

Whether it was Meredith drowning causing her lover to realize he wasn’t there for her, or Izzy’s patient and fiancée dying, or the chief trying to get back with his divorced wife only to find she had moved on, this show constantly shows how short and unexpected life can be. Even despite the overwhelming emotions felt by viewers, they come back and watch because this message is so true and important in their lives.

Over and over, a scenario repeats where a doctor gets worked up with fixing and saving a patient only to have them flatline on the Emergency Room table. It influences their personal lives as they realize that life is too short to hold a grudge against a loved one or to not speak to a friend or even to not tell someone how much they love them. In fact, that is one of the worst pains humans can feel: the pain of “what if” or “what could have been”, the fear of the uncertainty. The hospital is the perfect place to enforce this theme because of not only the deaths but also the fact that these doctors and nurses have less time for personal lives and so the theme of living life to the fullest is further emphasized by the fact that these individuals have shorter amounts of time to pursue their passions.

The recurring theme that the characters keep facing- YOLO (You only live once)

The Humanity of the Inhuman

**Spoilers Ahead**

I am now going on my fourth episode of Westworld, and the show does not fail to captivate me. It continues to use amazing acting, intriguing storylines and mystery to enthrall its viewers. Needless to say, it continues to interest me.

One way by which this show continues to captivate its viewers is by incorporating difficult questions into the theme. These themes make us question our morals, our beliefs, and humanity’s futures. Is it right for there to be a theme park for people to satisfy their questionable acts? If the humanlike droids don’t “feel”, does that make void the illegality of assaulting/raping/killing them? Is an act committed in this park against a droid considered to be of the same questionable moral character as doing it in real life? Continually, the show continues to pose these questions to the viewer without giving answers. Ultimately, it is up for us to decide.

A theme Westworld continually addresses in the third episode (and clearly will be throughout the show) is the concept of machines being able to “feel”. While this may seem cliché for a show which involves robotic humans, the way in which it questions it is all the more interesting due to the acts being committed on these robots by the humans. It appears that the writers are leaving it up to us to formulate a belief, but their argument seems to be along the lines of “it depends”. Inconclusive, clearly, but for good reason. It seems that the robots are “learning” how to have human emotions throughout the show, however, is it only because of the programming created by the humans themselves? Is it really original? These questions seem to be the basis of their argument, one which they leave purposefully vague so that we ourselves can determine it.

The show demonstrates its argument through character interactions. We continually see the head programmer interact with one droid in particular, whom begins to show signs of human behavior. This is our introduction to the conflict, as we delve into deciding whether or not this droid is capable of having these emotions. The argument itself is demonstrated again as inconclusive by having characters mention droids cannot feel, while the programmer continues to get attached. If I were to make predictions, I believe this theme will be a major portion of the show. Since the show is about immoral acts being taken out on droids by humans, the question of the morals of these actions being taken out on potentially “feeling” machines will continue to arise. Surely, the show will continue to explore this complicated theme further. And as we move into a world of more advanced technology, it seems all the more relevant.

Can droids feel emotions?

the story about a little guy that lives in a blue world

The first episode of Fresh off the Boat is about as provocative as one can get when it comes to social issues for POC and immigrant families in the US. The writers of this show certainly aren’t scared to put their opinions and experiences out there, I mean Eddie Huang even named the main protagonist after himself. I thought Arvin’s commentary about the irony of the title was interesting too, essentially remarking that the family isn’t really fresh off the boat (from China or anywhere), but really from D.C., a markedly American town… and by saying ‘American’, let’s be perfectly clear that I mean all kinds of Americans. Chinatown very much being included. For that reason, I felt that Arvin’s observation shone a riveting spotlight on the theme of the storyline: that all people, background and skin color aside, are equal, but are treated as if they aren’t.

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uh oh…racism? *sips tea*

Personally, I enjoy the way that Eddie Huang brings us this theme. He doesn’t do so in a condescending or stark manner, but rather uses comedy, like Eddie’s quirky obsession with Nas, or the use of slang by the stereotypical ~cringy~ dad, plus a very stereotypical accent as the cherry on top. Because this theme is so provocative, especially in today’s political climate, the comic relief more effectively communicates Huang’s side of the story. As Eddie says as he’s preaching his life plan to his parents at the dinner table, he’s taking “a seat at the table” in a conversation far larger than himself or the show. By representing this Chinese American family as the focus of the story, and really by daring to tell their side of the story, Huang not only communicates the theme but tells it through a lens of respect and empathy which makes his message more tender and approachable.

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and so is this theme, @Eddie

If we’re really honest, we all know people get treated differently, whether you lie on the side of privilege or not so much so. Overall, I have already really attached to the characters. I enjoy them. And I enjoy their story. The one with less privilege, the real one, the awkwardness, and the struggle. This theme, so clear yet so delicately presented, is still very much present and poignant in Fresh off the Boat. And so far, I’m diggin’ it.

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i <3 fotb

Works Cited:

Huang, Edwyn. “Fresh off the Boat.” Season 1, episode 1, Hulu, 2015.

Family is Everything

Well, I’m six episodes into Fresh Off the Boat, and so far it’s SO GOOD!  I realize that’s probably about as subjective as I can get, but I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the world through the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy facing a lot of challenges in a new, unfamiliar environment.  I also find the focus on the family element to be extremely refreshing.  While many modern dramas highlight family conflict (kids disrespecting their parents, parents tearing each other down, grandparents being portrayed as old-fashioned and therefore irrelevant), Fresh Off the Boat depicts the Huang family as people who love each other and genuinely want the best for one another.  That’s not to say that they don’t ever argue, or they live without EVER making each other’s lives miserable every now and then.  They’re not perfect, despite what Jessica desperately wants her sister to believe (“Success Perm”).  But at the end of the day, they’re all on the same team, which leads me into the first theme I’ve noticed in this show: Family is everything.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  What about the guy who grew up in an abusive home and hasn’t spoken to his parents in decades?  Or the little girl with an alcoholic father?  Is family everything to those people?  And no, that’s not what I mean.  As we’ve talked about in class, shows like Murphy Brown and Jane the Virgin present the idea that family isn’t necessarily two parents and two children in a suburban house with a white picket fence.  Sometimes, family isn’t even who DNA says family is.  Family is all about love, kindness, patience, and support.  In some cases, family may be all that you have.  In a setting where an immigrant family moves to a new city, everything that was once familiar to them has changed.  Everything, that is, except for family.  I think Fresh Off the Boat argues that if you have your family around you (no matter what form that “family” may take), everything else will fall into place.

I see this theme clearly displayed in the episode “Home Sweet Home-School,” in which Jessica begins supplementing her sons’ education with some extra assignments at home.  Eddie is upset because this new homeschool program means he can’t spend his afternoons playing basketball with his neighbor friend, and even Louis thinks Jessica has taken it a little too far.  The episode ends with Jessica lightening up and Louis playing basketball with all three of his sons, and even though Eddie’s friend later joins them, Eddie realizes he’s happy with just his family.  His whole world has changed, but his family has his back, no matter how crazy they drive him.  The show uses this episode to prove that family love manifests itself in different ways, even if it’s as overbearing as Chinese Learning Center at home.  No matter how much his life changes, Eddie always has his family.

C’mon, admit it…deep down, y’all love each other.

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