I was watching a documentary this weekend on the Eighties – you know, big hair, no cell phones. It was my childhood in review as they discussed the women on television story. I watched Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Cagney and Lacey, and while I was in high school, I wasn't quite self-aware and didn't understand how groundbreaking it was and what that could mean for me and my confidence.
Sometimes looking back on my early days, I feel disassociated with my life as though I wasn't actively participating in it. While I had a dream for myself and my future, I never connected an action to that dream. I didn't really think about the process of writing and what that would mean.
So back to my shows about strong, hard-working women who fought for the right to be treated equally in whatever job they took on. I could have used those ideas as a guide on how to manage my own career but a lack of confidence, had me taking one path rather than working on the path I really wanted. I spent my time working on Plan B, the plan to become a writer for some large company as I pursued my real passion. The problem is, I never really worked on my real passion, to become an author, spending my day writing books or magazine articles. There was too much fear in that unknown.
I find myself now, searching for the imaginary role models in Lorelei Gilmore, who finally followed her passion and opened her own inn rather than working in someone else's. I love old episodes of Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the women are strong and real as they work through their daily problems AND save the world.
When there's nothing on television or movies to use as a kick in the ass, I think of women like Amelia Earhart, or Kathryn Johnson whose mathematical calculations sent men to the moon, who followed their passions in their chosen field, fighting an uphill battle based on their sex and/or race.
It's not lost on me that what held me back from achieving my dreams wasn't necessarily my lack of opportunity it was a lack of confidence in myself. It's not an easy to fix to all of a sudden find the confidence to achieve your dreams. What I've learned in my 50 years is this, you don't achieve your goals by hoping and thinking it will happen. There is no guarantee that you'll accomplish your goals but you most certainly will not if you don't try.
The answer for me was to take my jealously and work harder, try different things as I try to finish my next book and sell the three others on Amazon.com.
Even if I have to fake the confidence for the time being, I must take the first step and the next step and continue, one at a time if I must. It keeps me moving forward rather than keeping me stagnant, in one place. And yes, I still watch the old shows, and the new gathering inspiration. It's like a recharge and reminds me that we all have similar struggles and if we can share the stories, we can all benefit.
It's something I remember especially on #InternationalWomensDay as I try to be my own hero, an active participant in my own life. It's sometimes a struggle, but totally worth the effort.
Reboots are all the rage. I've watched very few of them. Successful reboots invite you back into the family fold, pick up years later so that the fan can catch up with our favorites. Think Gilmore Girls. Other shows reboot the show's description but create new characters and maybe, just maybe bring back some of the original favorites (I didn't watch Beverly Hills 90210, but I read stuff.)
I'm a fan of a reboot though under very specific circumstances.
I enjoyed the Gilmore Girls reboot because I got to catch up with old friends. However, I'm not expecting that from the Charmed reboot. Here's why I won't be watching. I invested seven years with Prue, Piper, Phoebe, and Paige; these strong, powerful, vulnerable ladies. Their journey was my journey. They laughed I laughed. They worried, I worried with them.
What I would have loved to see, was a continuation of their story. Get a glimpse into their future or if anything visit with their children: Chris, Wyatt, Phoebe's three daughters and Paige's twins and son Henry Jr. Why? Because I loved the original women, and was given a glimpse into their future during the series finale. I saw that their future was good and that I'd watch.
While I'm all for the diversity that comes with the new cast, I'm in for a retelling of the story of three sisters who learn as adults that they are witches who must fight evil. For me as a fan of the original series, this seems like nothing more than a copy and no matter how well the story is told and how well the actresses are plunged into the world, I'm just not interested in investing any time to this new Charmed.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been talked about for a reboot. Again, seven years I sat alongside Buffy as she fought demons, and grew from a reluctant hero to one willing to die to save her family and friends. I watched her come back and struggle with life outside of heaven. I watched Buffy take down the First and close on of the gates of hell.
I will always admit that Buffy was the model I used when creating my own strong female, lead Annie Pearce. She was a blue print as to what a female superhero should be: strong, smart, beautiful, vulnerable. A complete package of a woman, her ups and downs. But if they retold Buffy's story, I shall also say no to that as well.
In the series finale, we had a clear understanding that the slayer was no longer alone. All potential slayers were now given the same powers as Buffy. She now had an army to work with her.
If the Vampire Slayer storyline was rebooted, an all new focus on one of the army, I'd be there anxiously watching how this new slayer would handle the pitfalls and accomplishments of her calling because it is a continuation of the original story. To retell Buffy's story seems like a copy I would choose not to see.
We fan are of Science Fiction/Fantasy are a loyal band of geeky nerds. We love our heroes and are loyal to them. If you give us copies we will be angry. If you further the story (think Star Wars Episodes 4, 5 and 6), we will be forever loyal and grateful and will watch hungrily. I promise you this.
One of my favorite television series is Supernatural. Do you watch it? On that show, two brothers, Sam and Dean, spend their days keeping the world safe from demons and other supernatural beings from the beyond. A recurring theme throughout the series is legacy and destiny. See, Sam and Dean were born into a “hunting” family. Hunters devote their lives to fighting the bad things that go bump in the night – vampires, sirens, spirits, and demons. Raised by their father, they travelled from town to town, staying in lousy motels until the evil de jour was gone—only to move on to the next town and the next threat.
At the beginning of the series, Sam has found a way out of this calling. He enrolls as a law student in California. That is until Dean knocks on this door and begs for his help to find their missing father. And with that, Sam is sucked back into the hunting game. Sam finally understands that he cannot escape his legacy. He is a hunter, by training and by family destiny. No matter how many times he attempts to carve out his own path, he is still hunting 13 seasons later. Ultimately he realizes that this is his role in life – to keep saving the world.
Another one of my favorite television characters is Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She too is led by her destiny. Unlike Sam, Buffy has no idea that true evil exists before assuming her slayer powers as a teenager. Her learning (and accepting) curve is much steeper than the other protagonists who have never known life without demons. She laments that her simple high school life is gone and tries to embrace her new skill set and her destiny. As the series comes to a close, she is still committed to combating evil even though the journey has been physically and emotionally exhausting.
Our Wizard Hall heroine, Annie Pearce, also has her own legacy – one that has been passed down from her father (like Sam) and one that involves inheriting powers (like Buffy). Annie’s father worked as a Wizard Guard and now she is following in his footsteps. She was born into the magical world and has had her powers since birth. Unlike Buffy and Sam, Annie has never questioned her path.
Somehow Annie seems to be able to carry this load without losing herself to the shadows that lurk underneath. Maybe it is because Annie has the best of both worlds—the powers needed to succeed and the history to accept this responsibility. Maybe it is because Annie is a part of a greater magical community with a whole infrastructure behind her while Buffy and Sam have to fight their battles with only a few cohorts by their side. Or maybe there is something in Annie that just makes her more innately suited for the job.
Regardless, these characters constantly succeed and beat the malevolent forces they encounter. They are all fierce fighters because of who they are and because it is their legacy. I find them each inspiring in their own way. Share some of your favorite characters with me on my Facebook page.Continue reading
I left with a little disappointment floating around my head. It wasn't what I had expected to be doing after a trip to Wizard World, one of the many comic cons that spring up every year. It could have been a totally cool conversation with a with an actress from a show that inspired my characters; the strong female character.
I fell in love with Buffy. The characters, the story arcs, the development and most importantly, I was impressed by Joss Whedon and his ability to create these real women. Women who are strong, who fall and pick themselves up and write their own rules.
I explained to Charisma Carpenter, the actress who played Cordelia Chase, how much I loved the show, the female strong female characters. I proclaimed my admiration for their creator, Joss Whedon and how his characters were the blueprint for how I developed my own characters.
She expressed her congratulations on my writing my books but asked me what I thought about the Joss Whedon news that had recently come to light.
I had no idea.
Charisma shared the news that while Joss was married, it is alleged he had multiple affairs and asked about my thoughts on that. My first thought, I could separate the two. The man who was raised by a feminist. A man who was a self-proclaimed feminist, who won many awards for his work.
But can I really separate the two?
It was disappointing to say the least. I had admired him for so long. What I felt was his true work, spoke to me, inspired me as I wrote about Annie Pearce., developing her in a way that made her a real woman, a strong woman. Buffy Summers as my model. Was it all fake?
As I grapple with the meaning of this news, I still feel that how Joss Whedon wrote women, was spot on. They feel real, they are relatable, and beautiful and smart and they each have flaws and issues and problems they face. Just like me. Just like my characters. That for me is real.
Is he entitled to write them? Yes he is. Do I have to admire him? I can admire the work that he has done. The characters that mean so much to me, but I no longer admire the man the way that I once was. He isn't perfect. But then, either am I. He doesn't have to apologize to me and I can still watch and love the characters that were created. Maybe some day I'll have different thoughts. For now, I'll move on to what's most important to me. Saying what I need to say about myself as a woman with dreams and goals. And maybe in the future, I should create my own blue print for the strong female character. I think I can do that.
I'm a television junkie, who in what I choose to watch, oftentimes finds strength and confidence. My choices run in cycles. I can be hooked on re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed, only to grow restless for something different. There's been cycles with the Big Bang Theory or MASH and recently Gilmore Girls. Always choosing shows that have a personal connection, whether it was to a storyline or to a character.
My cycle now is an attachment to shows in which the female lead is struggling through a life event or doggedly pursuing a life's goal. As much as I watched Gilmore Girls, I came to realize that I didn't need every episode to satisfy this weird need. Just a handful of episodes held personal meaning for me. Right now, storylines about Lorelei buying and running her very own country inn, in both the original and the reboot, grab my attention and hold on tightly.
I've re-watched the fourth season as if it were my blue print for becoming a successful author. I cry when Lorelei cries, or cheer her on as though I'm unaware of the outcome. In that experience, I gain an odd sense of strength and confidence.
Grace and Frankie. Though I'm considerably younger than any of the main characters, and have nothing in common with them, I'm drawn to them and their struggles. It's a familiar theme of surviving a difficult change in life; trying desperately to pick oneself up off the ground and move forward. I'm not divorced and/or in my 70s but I do understand how difficult it is to discover yourself and how to achieve a dream. This hilarious show, and even funnier season, I can't stop watching the emotional roller coaster that comes with starting their own business. Yeah even selling vibrators come with unique challenges.
Choking back the tears, Grace and Frankie fight for their demographic, for their product with doubt and confidence at the same time. With each step they take forward, I can almost touch their goals too.