On TV and in real life, there's a dearth of young women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. While a few bygone shows exposed the barriers against geeks in general (think My So-Called Life's Brian Krakow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow, and Freaks and Geeks's Lindsay Weir), contemporary television shows fail to portray the bumpy path that exist specfically for young women male-dominated science and math career tracks. I say we need more characters like Willow.
I don't imagine many of you are Dollhouse viewers, not least because the new series by Joss Whedon of Buffy and Angel fame had a rocky ride of a first season. If you gave up on him, I have a new mantra for you: Joss is always worth the trouble. Joss identifies as a feminist, and indeed, before anybody scoffs or points to Buffy's short skirts or what have you, I encourage you to read this.
That said, Dollhouse ain't perfect, on feminist or any other grounds, frankly. I only managed to stick it out through its initial rough patch on faith alone. See, Fox forced Joss to retool the show and rearrange some plot development early on. This led to some awfully confusing early episodes in which the network's desire to sell the show as Sexy! seemed at odds with Joss's own plans. The premise of the show being a brothel staffed by people who have, literally, had personality lobotomies, this isn't just in bad taste - it is bad marketing.
Joss Whedon's Dollhouse premiered last week, and The Box breathed a sigh of relief. I've been waiting so long to see Eliza Dushku kick ass and smart off in the style of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of ass-kicking in the first episode. Or smarting off, for that matter. Maybe that's because Dushku's character, Echo, is without a personality for most of the time...except when she's imprinted with perfect abilities and sent on missions without her knowledge.
A series about a woman with no autonomy doesn't sound like it's going to win Joss Whedon another honor from Equality Now, right? But then again, all of his shows feature leading ladies who are good at things against their will…