Subscribe to Bitch—an award-winning, 80 page feminist magazine. Image Map

TelevIsm: The Competent and Awesome Ladies of Bones

Image: The cast of Bones throwing up playing cards. From left: TJ Thyne as Jack Hodgins, Michaela Conlin as Angela Montenegro, Emily Deschanel as Temperance Brennan, David Boreanaz as Seely Booth, Tamara Taylor as Camille Saroyan, and Eric Milligan as Zack Addy.

Since I've begun my stint here at Bitch, I've been watching a lot of Bones on Netflix. Are you ready for a surprise, faithful TelevIsm readers?

I'm kind of in love with it.

I spend a lot of time critiquing how ladies and folks of color are portrayed on television, but Bones is a rare show that consistently portrays their politically marginalized characters as competent, admirable, and worthy of respect and commendation.

Bones, for the uninitiated, is a dark comedy/crime procedural. It focuses on a team of crimefighting forensic scientists who solve the mysteries that human remains can pose. I love it because it's an exciting, interesting show that showcases competent female characters who are fuel the ongoing plot and counter sexist tropes common to crime shows.

I am chiefly in love with Bones because it has an awesome cast of many competent and intelligent ladies. First, of course, is Temperance Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel. Called Bones by her partner, Seeley Booth, Brennan is the title character and the engine behind the show–she's the reason the cast of characters is together.

Brennan is awesome at what she does, and she knows it. She's by her own estimation a genius. Brennan is justifiably proud of her intelligence and her success, and in a rare feat for ladies on television, she is not shown to be a bitch for liking herself. She is proud of her success as a writer, and loves attention and applause for her achievements.
Bones is hyper-rational and less than emotional. Though this emotional deficit might be framed as a failure in other female characters, Brennan doesn't apologize for it. She likes herself just fine, her co-workers and friends like her just fine, and it doesn't impact her work she has a (male!) partner to balance out her shortage of intuitive reasoning. This flipping of the typical script–intuitive emotional man with hyper-intelligent, logical woman–is not the usual assignation of adjectives.

Additionally, Bones matches her male partner's strength on many occasions–she is well-trained in martial arts and often defends herself. Though he is typically masculine, she is sometimes the one who has to rescue him. She's an action star, too–not just Booth.

Angela Montenegro is an artist who assists the team by reconstructing facial features primarily. She also assists the team on other matters, sometimes scientific, sometimes social. She's a woman of color and a bisexual woman who is not othered by either of these qualities. She is a balance and counterpoint to Bones who brings unique and valuable qualities to the team. Like the other women on this show, she's happy and satisfied with her work and pleased with the consistently positive reception she gets from her co-workers.

s.e. smith wrote about Angela in "Excellent Ladies of the Small Screen" at this ain't livin:

She's a very skilled artist, and an amazingly talented geek. She has diverse interests. She's kindly, sensitive, and perceptive, but she doesn't fall into the "intuitive best friend" trap. She makes a great foil for Bones, but she's her own person…She doesn't fit into any of the easy boxes television has created for women, demanding that people view her as who she is. We constantly get to see her doing innovative and amazing things, and being appreciated for them. While we see her emotional side, Angela is not all about her emotions, and I like that.

You should really check out s.e.'s ongoing analysis of Bones– s.e. is much better versed in the show and points out a lot of issues with it that I don't cover here.

Another well-developed, competent, fulfilled woman of color on the show is Camille Saroyan, the boss of the team. Cam is a good example of a woman of color in an authority position who doesn't fall into any angry/uppity black women stereotypes. Cam has an interesting backstory–she is more flexible and less rigid than many of the characters on the show, casually mentioning following Phish for a summer in one episode. She's sensitive to the needs of her team, who like and respect her authority even when they don't agree with her decision. Women and people of color are not often shown to be such capable and worthwhile leaders, and Cam's characterization is commendable.

One thing that all of the above characters share is conventional beauty. All of the above ladies are quite thin and quite lovely. It would be nice to see characters who don't reinforce the beauty standard so mightily, but this is television. To the show's credit, their beauty is occasionally shown to be a privilege, but their bodies are also sometimes policed (as happens with all women, conventionally attractive or not).

And there is one regular female character who varies from these standards: Caroline Julian. Julian is a lawyer and a woman of size. Though she looks much different from the beautiful, conventionally fit men and women of the Jeffersonian, her size is not shamed or ridiculed. On the problematic side, Julian is more demanding and "scary" than any of the other characters on the show, playing into the "angry black woman" stereotype that is often disproportionately applied to black women of size like Julian. However, she is also another entry of a character who is competent and framed as valuable.

There are a lot of issues with Bones, as with any show. There's some ableism, some sizism, and some cissexism in different episodes. I'm only on my first watching of the show, and I'm only halfway through the fourth season. But it's also a show that has a strong cast of excellent, competent female characters. The show refutes sexist tropes by placing women as competent holders of scientific expertise, legal authority, and physical prowess. Bones frames women as competent and worthy of respect from themselves and others, and that's something to be commended.

Enjoy reading this article? Good news! Our quarterly magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, is packed with 80+ pages of feminist analysis, reviews, illustrations, and more. Subscribe today!

Subscribe to Bitch

Comments

42 comments have been made. Post a comment.

love and sex

I remember seeing an episode a year or two ago in which Bones was casually dating two different guys to satisfy her intellect and sexual desires. I can't remember the whole episode now, but I recall being very impressed with the shows depiction of women casually dating. At the time, I was casually dating several people and it took me a while to understand that "this is ok! and completely normal! and monogamy isn't the only option!"

I think they've done a

I think they've done a pretty good job with it, but apparently [spoiler!] it's been dropped in the fifth season.

*Spoiler*

I was disappointed at how that turned out, though. In typical Dr. Brennan fashion, she failed to take into account their feelings and the situation imploded when the two gentleman met each other. Bones of course was baffled as to why they both dropped her like a hot lasagna. To its credit, the show has had a few positive portrayals of non-monogamy, but it is mostly still othered as being the domain of the hyper-rational.

Bones watching

RMJ,

I'm so glad to read about a new show that is not a douchefest to watch now that regular-season programming is on hiatus. I've avoided Bones just because it looked like a run-of-the-mill crime procedural (not my fave genre), but now I am going to give it a try. My television is grateful to your recommendation :)

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I love it! It's still pretty

I love it! It's still pretty much brain candy - I definitely don't feel particularly challenged by it. And it's definitely got some problems that I'm not addressing here. But it's a fun show that I enjoy quite a bit :)

I LOVE Bones!

Admittedly, I'm sort of drawn to this crime-type genre, but this is by far one of the most intelligent shows of its kind.

Does anyone else get a kick out of the fact that Emily Deschanel is a real-life vegan and the show occasionally has animal rights plot lines, like when Angela gets obsessed with saving a pig? Jorja Fox was able to pull off similar things on CSI before her character was cut. I like to think these ladies have some sway in the matter. Hope it isn't just wishful thinking :)

I did not know that!

I did not know that! Interesting!

Thanks for your analysis. I

Thanks for your analysis. I don't like the character Bones - very little acknowledgment of race privilege with the lead - and the first episode I watched featured a fat girl who was "delusional" and stalking Angel - whatever his name is on the show.

People tell me it gets better, but that was a heck of an introduction. I think in order to get into the show one really has to like the lead character and I find her grating. Only white women get to act the way she does and be positioned as competent.

Also, as a lifelong historian of police procedurals, I would say that Bones barely adheres to the tenets of the trope. I wouldn't classify it as a procedural. it's more of a Dr. Who type show that happens to solve some crimes.

Cop procedurals rarely showcase cops as the pratfall. Bones is more like Quincy MD

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Thanks for the counter-point!

Only white women get to act the way she does and be positioned as competent.

Ooo, good point! I like Bones personally, but I see where you're coming from. And that episode that you mention is definitely problematic, considering how it results in violence at the end.

But the karaoke was

But the karaoke was slamming. I am going to give Bones another shake because I do think it may take more than a couple viewings to get the groove of the show. It took me a long time to get into many shows that go on to be favorites. And while I personally might not like the lead character, heavens know, an unlikable lead (to me) had not stopped me from being a huge fan of a show - Quincy MD again an example.

My mama loves her some David B, so if I am expecting a holiday invite I need to get with the program!

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Sometimes it takes a few

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get into a show! I always give three tries to account for the wrong episode/mood. I had to give Lost and the Office several shots, and I remember rejecting KOTH out of hand several times because of the accents specifically...a prejudice I had to reconsider when I started dating a dude with an even stronger accent.

"Only white women get to act

"Only white women get to act the way she does and be positioned as competent."

Can you be more specific...what about her acting that way? The reason I ask is because I'm a white woman and so I know I'm looking at her through my own privilege so I want to make sure I'm getting the full sense of the meaning.

I find her to be a little bit odd and sometimes harsh (as opposed to pooping sunshine and butterflies) towards her friends.

I think the character who I

I think the character who I find unlikable (but I love that actress. That family is filled with TALENT!!!) has personality traits - I am making some big assumptions, since I haven't seen a lot of episodes - that are positioned as "quirks" and I can't tell (maybe someone can help me) if the writers are suggesting something other about Bones than she's just not a warm fuzzy person or not as adept at appreciating social cues. If there is something beyond merely depicting a woman who isn't warm and fuzzy - then I will need to probably reassess my understanding of the character. That said, I do find the use of a black female character to round out Bones' soft edges to be similar to Tamara Tunie's dynamic with Mariska on L&O: SVU, which definitely feel weird to me, given that it seems the M.E.'s character (who technically isn't all that warm/fuzz, but has some "informed" nurturer thing because she's a black woman) is supposed to add a more humanizing quality to Benson. The same isn't asked of Stabler (though he's quite cop show tropeliciously emotional) so it's kind of tokenizing and sexist. I'm definitely over thinking this. It's cut grass season and I'm on benadryl.

I am open to seeing things from another perspective and I've liked the conversation happening here muchly.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I see Bones' character as

I see Bones' character as less quirks and more just character traits - part of the reason that she needs an people person counterpart. They're a constant topic of discussion as both a flaw (not understanding nuances/conventions) and a strength (being able to disconnect from the emotions of the situation). I think that her reflection in Zack is a little problematic, considering that he turned out to be a serial killer.

That said, I do find the use of a black female character to round out Bones' soft edges to be similar to Tamara Tunie's dynamic with Mariska on L&O: SVU, which definitely feel weird to me, given that it seems the M.E.'s character (who technically isn't all that warm/fuzz, but has some "informed" nurturer thing because she's a black woman) is supposed to add a more humanizing quality to Benson.

Agreed on L&O! But, Cam actually doesn't really play this role in Bones - that's more Angela. Bones and Cam are good working partners who complement each other, but they are often on each other's nerves: there's a rivalry component since Cam dated Booth seriously before the action of the show and there is clearly chemistry b/t Bones and Booth (problematic on its own). Cam also has to shut Bones down sometimes and tell her the parameters of what she can and cannot do.

But on that tangent, Caroline Julian does kind of fill that humanizing, nurturing role - she basically blackmails Bones into kissing Booth under the mistletoe.

Wait, what?

...more of a what now?

More of a... "Dr. Who type show"???

I... I don't even know where to start with that one. Other than to tell you it's spelled "Doctor Who", and to point out that it's infinitely crazier than Bones. Granted, they both feature a major geek for a main/sort-of-title character (amusingly, it's the character's nickname or pseudonym and not their real name in both cases), but first of all, The Doctor is a charmingly quirky alien, and second... just, no.

Bones has a touch of the weird, but it's no more scifi than House or CSI are. In Bones, you might have a body that is found in a chimney dressed like Santa Claus, sure, and you had that Voodoo-themed episode in New Orleans... but in Doctor Who, they're regularly fighting, say, communistic cyborgs that have time-traveled to Victorian London, or vampires that turn out to be alien fish-people, or stone statues that only move when you're not looking at them and can kill you the split second you're not (scarier than it sounds. "Blink" and the other two "weeping angels" episodes have given countless people nightmares...). Come on, people. No episode of Bones will EVER be as weird as any given episode of Doctor Who, and you know it.

I also feel like it sounds like you're trying to slight Doctor Who, somehow. Maybe it's just my inner geek twitching at the misspelling, though. And at the oddity of the comparison... it just seems so random. If I was going to compare it to any scifi show, it would have been X-Files, because the character dynamic (competant, hyper-logical female scientist, sensitive male FBI dude) is fairly similar. But Doctor Who!? Just... seems really random to me.

Although I guess they do share having a number of strong female characters... though I would actually give the edge to Doctor Who somewhat in recent years, especially because of Donna, who was NOT a rail-thin 24-year-old, and was totally one of the best Companions, ever. Seriously. Equal parts feisty and spunky and sympathetic, and beautiful, too. ;) Deity of your choice bless the British for recognizing lovely women no matter what their age.

I also feel like it sounds

I also feel like it sounds like you're trying to slight Doctor Who, somehow. Maybe it's just my inner geek twitching at the misspelling, though. And at the oddity of the comparison... it just seems so random. If I was going to compare it to any scifi show, it would have been X-Files, because the character dynamic (competant, hyper-logical female scientist, sensitive male FBI dude) is fairly similar. But Doctor Who!? Just... seems really random to me.

Thanks for proving my point better than I could. Your response with its tone argument and spelling correction is exactly what I meant. Both Bones and Doctor Who seem to have fans who cannot stand to have their shows critiqued in terms of its overtly problematic elements and instead opt to defend their show by being problematic themselves, rather than entertain the notion there are people in the world who might find the content, the messaging (geekery is a white pursuit), lack of POCs in not stereotypical roles kind of fucked up.

Also, might want to avoid the use of "rail thin". It's a nasty way to characterizing a person's body. Body acceptance is new hotness to be sure, but must not come at the expense of others. the use of "Rail thin" denotes judgment much more so than my comparing Bones and DW, both of which are shows I would be open to, if their fans were so annoying and off putting.

So again, thank you for being a reliable Doctor Who fan. You saved me some work. Cheers!

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Why Does It Matter That's She Was Fat?

So they can not cast a fat person as Booth's (that's his name) stalker why? I think that is just ridiculous.

I myself am a fat women and do not see why it's not okay to cast fat actors as unlikeable characters. I'm a fan of bones and know the episode you are talking about and the women they cast was a good actor who played the part she was hired to play. That should be all that matter.

Also her being fat had nothing to do with her being a stalker. Just because she happened to be fat and a bad person does in no way imply that everyone that is fat is a bad person. Which I know you already know so I really don't see the problem.

I'm not trying to start anything I'm just genuinely interested in why you take offense to it. Please Help me understand your reasoning. Maybe I'm missing something here.

Thanks for this post! I

Thanks for this post! I hadn't heard of this show, but now I'm going to give it a try.

Bones becomes damsal

The character Bones started out being very tough. Skilled in martial arts / self defense and would go to the shooting range to practice. Over the years this part of her character has been slowly written out. It used to be that when Booth would try to save her she had all ready saved her self is some elaborate fight seen. Now the roll of damsel in distress comes up far more often than it used to. Its very disappointing and I'm excited for the action star Bones to come back.

good reasons to watch...

I loved this show! The interactions between the characters started out a little cliche but quickly settled into a very interesting and complex storyline. It's a pity it's gone downhill this last season with an overemphasis on stereotypical romantic tensions. Things I especially liked as a feminist in the show...
1- A Socially awkward main character that who wasn't abusive or just "quirky". While this trait was often played for laughs it wasn't completely dismissed as something not worth understanding. The theme of not jumping to conclusions in the case was echoed outside of it.
2- Angela and Hodgin's mature relationship inside and outside the lab. While the relationship was hardly drama free it wasn't milked for all it was worth. Even as things fell apart the calm nature of both characters prevailed.
3- David Boreanaz. What can I say man looks good in a suit especailly of the birthday variety.

I think this is a spot-on

I think this is a spot-on analysis of the show. I've been watching it on my Netflix instant queue, and I'm also about halfway through the fourth season. I admit I started watching the show for David Boreanaz (big BtVS and Angel fan here), but I have been really impressed with the show's female characters. They are all presented as smart, capable, funny--definitely never perfect, but still as people who deserve and receive respect.
You really hit on the issues I sometimes have with the show, too. There have been a couple of episodes where Brennan has flat-out told someone to lose weight (both times the comments were directed at women), in the interest of their "health," of course--so annoying, although the incidents did seem to be played as examples of her social ineptitude. Then again, there have been several instances of her railing against the conventional beauty standard--plastic surgery, beauty pageants, etc.
And I love Ms. Julian, but she definitely veers far into "sassy/angry black lady" stereotype territory.

Hooray for TV atheists

I also find it amazing that Bones gets to be a committed and unapologetic atheist - something most shows shy away from. Some of my favorite moments are when she and Booth (who is Catholic) discuss religion. I get a little thrill each time.

I think one of the things

I think one of the things that may help Ms. Julian escape the "sassy/angry older black woman" stereotype is her career. She is a successful prosecutor who sometimes proves elemental to "getting the bad guy."And she doesn't her fondness of Booth and Bones get in the way of her job.

She isn't just the feisty neighbor or aunt who just throws sass in when there is a lackluster moment. It is apart of her character and her character helps move the plot along.

Regardless of where and how

Regardless of where and how "sassy/anger" is position, whenever it is used as an aspect of a black female character it's pretty reductive. There are no degrees of appropriateness as it relates to the stereotypical depictions of sassy/angry black women on television because it actively adopts a monolithic view of black women regardless of their station in life. There are much better options available to writers - like say - using some the same nuance with white characters to craft fully realized POC characters.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I watched and loved Bones up

I watched and loved Bones up until the last episode of s3 (I quit because of that episodes - for non-viewers, this has nothing to love do with feminism or the women on the show) and I agree with much of what you said. However, from info from people I know who are still watching, it seems that the show is really trying to soften up Bones in a number of ways - as someone said, toning down her action heroine status, increasingly portraying her "cold", straightforward personality as a failing and something she should get over, etc. And then there's Booth; while he's a lovable douchebag, he's still a bit of a douchebag, and he gets more credit than other "genius wranglers" (who are either female with male geniuses, or male with male geniuses), even when he's wrong.

Spoilers.

SPOILERS!

Yeah, I've read at this ain't livin (linked above) that Bones suddenly wants babies, which is disappointing to say the least.

6th Season of Bones

It's actually been renewed for a 6th season I think?
http://thedailytruffle.com/2010/05/peter-rice-announces-new-fox-primetim...

what about numb3rs?

i haven't really seen bones, so i don't have anything to say about it, but i was watching numb3rs and was struck that for a while, all the main female characters were not white, and the show passed the bechdel test every week.

Numb3rs is... iffy. On the

Numb3rs is... iffy. On the one hand, you're right. On the other, for a long while, basically for a whole season, both Liz and Amita seemed to have as their only functions to be Love Interests. They are marvelous characters in their own right (although the fandom hated them both for this stretch, and still hate Amita a lot), but weren't actually written in a way that showed their respective awesomeness at all. I don't watch Numb3rs any more, but I understand that Amita's role has become more important, more central to the show (I don't know if it has simultaneously become less scienc-y), but other than it's really a show where everyone but Charlie, Don and to a certain degree Alan, are peripheral.

amita's roll did get bigger,

amita's roll did get bigger, and liz and don broke up, but she didn't get less storytime on the show. and it didn't get less sciency (i'm not sure why you would think amita's larger roll would mean less science. she's a scientist!). at some point, don was sort of out of commision, and david was taking over as boss, and the fbi focus really switched to not-don. and at another point, charlie wasn't allowed to work with the fbi because he had committed a crime (though a person of color who committed basically the same crime was taken to jail, which was problematic), and amita started working with the fbi herself.

it was the last season where i thought about it, so i wasn't considering prior seasons, just the show as it was when i was watching. i'd never thought of liz or amita as just love interests, but i totally see what you're saying. still, if it hadn't been cancelled, it really felt like they were moving away from the epps's, so far as the focus.

With Amita's role getting

With Amita's role getting less sciency, I meant that I suspected they would focus less on her job and more on her and Charlie's relationship, esp. with SPOILER: engagement and all. END SPOILER
I saw a few episodes into Don and Robin's (Robin's plenty of cool too) relationship, and I really enjoyed how Liz was kept in the show, and even got a bigger role and some actual personality, after she and Don broke up. I enjoyed her scenes with Nikki too, the little I saw of them.

But if we're talking Numb3rs, we can't forget Megan, who was for a while one of the most well-rounded women characters on TV, kicking ass, being an accomplished profiler and being in a fulfilling, if somewhat unconventional, relationship, without falling in the superwoman trap. Yay Megan.

Not sure how I feel about

Not sure how I feel about this assessment. While the female characters (and it's Caroline Julian, not Catherine) are strong, I think this show does less for feminism and more for the gifted. Most talented people are portrayed as being extremely geeky, socially incompetent, etc. This exists in the show, but isn't exclusive. Temperance and Zack are both socially awkward, Sweets is inappropriate, etc. but they're good-looking people who contribute to the world and have relationships, and I think we can forgive those individuals in casting for picking attractive actors, especially Emily. Research related to giftedness will show time and time again that female genius' are highly discriminated against based on their sex and are believed to be physically unappealing (despite evidence to the contrary).

There are also many problems with the show (as with anything). Despite Booth being the emotional/intuitive one, he is still extremely masculine. In one episode, Booth tells Brennan that talking to her isn't like talking to a woman... she's one of the guys. When she turns it back and says that when she's talking to him it's like talking to a woman, he is ultra-offended. Is it a good thing that this conversation happened, or a bad thing? I really don't know - it just hangs there and I was never sure if we were meant to take anything out of it or if she was actually trying to insult him.

What I do think is unfair is to claim that the show is ruining the lead (Bones) by softening her up; that making her more emotional is counterintuitive to creating a strong, female lead. She's flawed and that she can recognise her shortcomings is part of what makes the characters believable. How she was way back in season one is great for entertainment, but one cannot function that way unless you wish to be an island unto yourself. She needed to change, and what does work is that she isn't the only one changing... she's impacted Booth as much as he's caused her to grow, and that may not pan out for feminist television, but it's how the cookie crumbles.

.... And yes, my understanding is that the animal rights episodes are very related to Emily Deschanel being vegan. She won a Genesis Award for 'The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken.'

Thanks for the note on

Thanks for the note on Caroline Julian, it's been fixed.

I'm not really arguing that this is a feminist show, FYI. I'm just saying that it has a multitude of strong and competent female characters (whom I haven't even covered in full here!) which is cause for praise bc there are not a ton of awesome competent ladies concentrated on one show in television.

I don't agree about the portrayal of intelligent people. Traditionally-defined and rewarded "intelligence" is a privilege, and accordingly there is not shortage plenty of sexy, social traditionally smart people on television. EG: Jack Shepherd, Juliet Burke, Sayid Jarrah, Lisa Cuddy, the president on West Wing....there is no shortage of the lives of the very "smart" on television.

I recall that scene that you mentioned. I thought it was a nice way to throw a sexist backhand compliment on its head, myself.

What I do think is unfair is to claim that the show is ruining the lead (Bones) by softening her up; that making her more emotional is counterintuitive to creating a strong, female lead. She's flawed and that she can recognise her shortcomings is part of what makes the characters believable. How she was way back in season one is great for entertainment, but one cannot function that way unless you wish to be an island unto yourself. She needed to change, and what does work is that she isn't the only one changing... she's impacted Booth as much as he's caused her to grow, and that may not pan out for feminist television, but it's how the cookie crumbles.

First off, this wasn't my argument. I'm a little disappointed in this direction, but I don't think it's ruining her. Second (spoilers ahoy). She was functioning perfectly fine - she was happy and successful, with plenty of friends and lovers. They didn't need to make her into having a sudden desire for motherhood to show growth. That's a sexist trope. I don't have much of a problem with the prospect of her and Booth dating, but she was fine the way she was.

Still the motherhood trope

Still the motherhood trope was introduced in keeping with Bones' personality of a logical thinker. She experiences children in multiple episodes leading up to her revelation, enjoys being around them and has somewhat dealt with her childhood issues of abandonment (which are hinted at being the source of her lack of interest in family). It may seem to come out of no one to her friends and co-workers, but I think it makes sense for her to make the decision for herself without the approval of her peers.

I did have a problem that her interest in children seemed to peter off after Booth is diagnosed with the brain tumor. It seems if she was really interested in having children, and the trope was not just being used to give fans hope of a deeper emotional connection between Bones and Booth, that she would have continued to seek sperm donors into the fifth season. If I remember correctly, the issue is barely raised again.

I think it's worth noting,

I think it's worth noting, RMJ, that really early on in the show, in a TV interview for her first book, I think, Brennan says she does not want to have children because she has seen too many horrible things. The switch to suddenly wanting children just...doesn't make sense for her character... so I agree that it is just a trope to make that change, and that it serves no purpose other than softening up a character who didn't need to be softened.

Why change that now?

(Spoilers ahoy!) Changing Angela into having meaningful relationships w/ women after breaking up with Hodgins and that whole Fiji Marriage thing...that was something I could believe from her character from what we have seen from her. It was a change that made sense (and a welcome change that veers away from the heteronormativity we see all. the. time. though, could we get some bi men once in a while?) for her, though not apparently an actual change before the series started. Or so I thought. Just MHO.

You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. ~ Jane Fonda

You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. ~ Jane Fonda

Yes! Also, Angela I believe

Yes!

Also, Angela I believe mentioned her bisexuality a couple times as an aside - talking about attractive women with Hodgins - so it wasn't a huge surprise.

Not sure how I feel about

Not sure how I feel about this assessment. While the female characters (and it's Caroline Julian, not Catherine) are strong, I think this show does less for feminism and more for the gifted. Most talented people are portrayed as being extremely geeky, socially incompetent, etc. This exists in the show, but isn't exclusive. Temperance and Zack are both socially awkward, Sweets is inappropriate, etc. but they're good-looking people who contribute to the world and have relationships, and I think we can forgive those individuals in casting for picking attractive actors, especially Emily. Research related to giftedness will show time and time again that female genius' are highly discriminated against based on their sex and are believed to be physically unappealing (despite evidence to the contrary).

This whole paragraph is so problematic...

I go with what I know, though, because I think Snarky and RMJ covered a lot of it very well...

I find it telling that the thought that "giftedness", social awkwardness, and those who contribute to society and have relationships must be mutually exclusive concepts...it's also a bit ableist. Why can't a person be so incredibly well off in one area, but struggling a little or just not doing as well in another? It might surprise some people to know that Hart Hanson himself has even said that Temperance Brennan possibly has Aspergers (even likely, as in, something they might be pursuing in a storyline later). How good this portrayal is, I don't know, it's out of my AOE, but I am familiar with debilitating social awkwardness and other mental disabilities, so I am saying that the concepts of contributing and having meaningful relationships as you say and having such disorders are not in fact mutually exclusive. It's something they wanted to do, but wanted to do right to avoid harmful stereotypes like the ones you are perpetrating, and now that we are seeing it a little more (on shows I have never seen, not living in the U.S. right now) it might be closer to the right time.

I enjoy Bones, I love s.e.'s analysis (because you can't critique good pop culture enough), and I will keep watching, and hoping we keep critiquing.

I also find it telling that you say "female characters" and yet you go on to list only one (white) woman among two (white) men. The two women of color mentioned in the post are also extremely exceptional portrayals of women in television, portrayals of women using their lady brains not oft seen (one was so well received after she was only supposed to be a temporary character, killed off in season two, that she was permanently written in).

You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. ~ Jane Fonda

You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don't find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. ~ Jane Fonda

A+ comment, thanks so much

A+ comment, thanks so much for the response. :)

Quick question

Could someone please define the term "cissexism" for me? I've never heard it before and had trouble finding much information about it. Thanks!

These might help.

http://www.juliaserano.com/whippinggirl.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisgender
http://www.deeplyproblematic.com/2010/08/why-i-use-that-word-that-i-use-...

The third linked page was written by the same person as this entry. All three define and discuss "cissexism" as well as related words eg. "cissexual," "cisgender" and "transphobia."

Thanks soooo much! This was

Thanks soooo much! This was really helpful. :)

3 dimensional characters *spoilers*

There is so much I love about this show, and I just want to address the "but then she has babies," argument. While I understand that pregnancy is an overused plot that can serve to undermine a powerful female character, the truth of the matter is that Emily was pregnant IRL, and instead of hiding it, and shooting her from the waist up for a season, they incorporated it into the show. They also had a shortened season, because she had a baby. It's seems pretty great that an entire show gave her time to have her baby. Not only that, but Bone's behavior throughout her pregnancy and after were very much in line with her character.
She fought back against traditional birth practices in favor of what she knew were more logical choices. And she didn't become a damsel in distress. She worked, until she gave birth. They even did a small spot on post partum body image. I just get tired of pregnancy being somehow anti-feminist. It can totally be used in an feminist way, but seriously guys, even feminists have babies.
There's also criticism of how it changes her character in subsequent seasons, into less of a bad-ass. I mean, I guess I can see it, but to keep her unchanged after having a child would seem less realistic.