Seeking: Dynamic Women Who Don't Need A Hero
Confession time: I love me a good low budget fantasy series. If it's on a second rate cable network, and it features magic, medieval times, and roaming adventures, I'm in. I lived for Xena: Warrior Princess and all its chakram throwing, ululating battle crying, lesbian subtext possessing glory.
One day, out of the side of my eye, I noticed a familiar scene playing on my friend's tv. Two women, clad in white robes on horseback, were in the process of summoning a spell to open a magical barrier in a lush, Lord of The Rings looking world.
And that's how Legend of the Seeker caught me, hook, line, and sinker.
Thanks to the wonders of Netflix, I've taken my time leisurely catching up on the first season and preparing to devour the second. However, as the series has gone on, I've noticed an obnoxious trend with the female lead character, Kahlan. From the beginning, it was clear that Kahlan was not to be trifled with. Outside of her confessor powers (which can force people to tell the truth, or enslave them), she's quite handy with knives and isn't afraid to get down and dirty in a fight. Impractical white-robe-and-heaving-bosom-bodice aside, she started out as a pretty good representation of a heroine.
The tough, no nonsense Kahlan came as a stark relief to the generic blandsome, goofy Richard. The Seeker himself (as is typical in the modern incarnations of epic heroes) is good, kind, and sure. His aw-shucks demeanor and boyish grin are ever present in the series - but Richard lacks any negative qualities to balance out his goodness. Without Oedipus style hubris, and lacking the rage and vulnerability of Achilles, Richard is just a lovable cardboard cut out on an adventure.
Sadly, Kahlan is also going the way of the two dimensional heroine. After a promising first three episodes, her character began to fall in love with Richard, despite his total lack of personality. While she still doesn't need saving (as she angrily remarks after Richard plunges a sword through a man she was attempting to turn), Kahlan has lost the acrid edge that made her so amusing, and become a hybrid of action star and damsel in distress. From crying soft tears over star-crossed love life, spending her waking moments obsessing over Richard, and generally playing second fiddle to a sloppy first.
The introduction of a good girl gone bad dominatrix (Denna, the Mord'Sith wielding a pain baton, who apparently must be clad in skin tight red leather) stokes more of my personal fears that the portrayal of women in the series is on a long slide downward.
(Oh, and obviously, they just had to find a way to get Kahlan into that outfit.)
As I get closer to Season Two, I am still holding out hope for some kind of resurgence of independent spirit in Kahlan. Though, with the news of HBO's production of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series
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