Breaking Bad: Does anything bad happen after this part?
I'm just not going to make it past episode three of Breaking Bad. You can't talk me into it, because even though it's the most-discussed TV show in America right now, I don't want to watch it. I'm a proud member of the Breaking Bad dropout club and I'm staying that way.
I admit I didn't join the Breaking Bad bandwagon for years. In 2008, a screenwriting professor suggested I watch the show after I wrote a similar screenplay about a woman with breast cancer who decides to take back her life—but I held off. In the flurry of grad school life, I didn't want to get sucked in to what everyone said was a completely addictive show. Until now.
In the last week, I've binge-watched every episode of Breaking Bad. I've been surprised, overwhelmed, humored, angered, saddened, and excited, and that's probably what show creator Vince Gilligan wants.
It's Friday! Finally! Here's all the feminist news on our radar from the end of the week.
• The announcement yesterday that Private Bradley Manning would now be known as Chelsea Manning and should be referred to as female instantly highlighted the varying media outlet policies on trans issues. While GLAAD encourages all media to use a person's preferred pronoun, places like NPR refuse to switch pronouns until a person's "desire to have his gender changed actually physically happens." [New York Times]
On TV, there's a new guard of heroines calling the shots. From chipper Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation to fractured Carrie Mathison on Homeland to narcissistic Amy Jellicoe on Enlightened, we see women anchoring our favorite shows. So what makes these characters so often cringe-worthy?
In The New Yorker, TV critic Emily Nussbaum took note of this new small screen female archetype, the Hummingbird:
They're different ages; some are more manic, some sweeter or more sour...But they do share traits: they're idealistic feminine dreamers whose personalities are irritants. They are not merely spunky, but downright obsessive. And most crucially, these are not minor characters. On each show, the Hummingbird is a protagonist—an alienating-yet-sympathetic figure whose struggles are taken seriously and considered meaningful.
At first glance, this seems like a mere gender shift from the lauded male antiheroes whom TV audiences have embraced. Think Tony Soprano, Dexter, Don Draper, and Walter "Heisenberg" White. And to some extent, it's true: Contemporary audiences love to root for the bad guy, so why not the overwhelmingly eager woman?