The Portrayal Of Women In Film And Television Today

         During my childhood, I saw the expectations in cinematic roles change between both males and females. In modern society, women have come a long way, generally being seen as free equal members of society. The cinematic field has come far in featuring women as these independent, important members of society just as expectation would have it. Many people who have grown up watching television or film before our contemporary society would have the expectation of a man saving, destroying, and or monitoring (keeping the peace) a fictional world. Both movies and televisions shows are directed by both genders. It would seem as though equality in modern day cinema would be there. Shockingly enough, society today is still evermore growing and changing their expectations and beliefs. Women are now being displayed more and more, but it is a work in progress. As a movie goer and a fan of many shows, seeing female heroes has become one of my favorite aspects of film because I am able to see more variation within the roles of gender in film. Since the element of female heroes has been introduced, audiences have a greater appreciation for the variation within film and TV.

         Particularly the way women are now being portrayed is quite fascinating. People may be used to seeing male heroes, but heroines are on the rise. The situations of roles they are placed into have become of more importance, thus their work is cut out for them. Women are now being given roles other than the expected ones. Roles that have more depth. “As portrayals of heroic women gain ground in film, television, and other media, their depictions are breaking free of females as versions of male heroes or simple stereotypes of acutely weak or overly strong women” (Avery, Carol A.; Bajac-Carter, Maja; and Batchelor, Bob). Many women are given the roles of female characters that are positively complex, more to them than just what a reader or movie goer can observe on the surface. These complicated characters give and make viewers think past the perception of expectation and deeper into the equal decision making process of an actual human being.

       In many fantasy fiction films, the audience watches the hero become who they are and learn of why they are who they are. Today, roles for heroines ensure a variety of just that. I love that I can see more background stories, it’s absolutely interesting when it comes to both genders. Women are given many supernatural or natural situations in which their destiny leads them down a road of leadership, thus becoming a heroine. The many background stories are completely original. Many of these works include recent trilogies such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, The 100, Reign, Underworld, both the volume set and TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They all have creations of worlds in which the heroine is completely the saver, overseer (peacemaker or watcher), leader, and or warrior of her world. She is capable of determining and creating justice or security for the greater good.  You do not need a male to constantly save the world for the world to get back to normal. “Characters like Katniss Everdeen are changing girlhood and challenging tired stereotypes by not waiting for some guy to save the day: They’re saving themselves and their worlds, too. Yet Katniss, her screen sisters and the industry have a very long way to go” (SCOTT and DARGIS).


Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

            These heroines carry on the same role as their opposite gender. They are often left with the burden carried by their leadership. I love this controversial idea of humanity. Often both female and male characters are led down this decision-making path and question their own humanity. It often seems as if a hero’s role comes with the burden of selflessness. The hero begins to feel for everyone they surround including the people they can save and those who are unfortunately not saved. I like that I can still feel for the female who carries this burden, and not look at it any other way. It is not weird, awkward or falsely done. When these emotions are occurring on screen the imagination and depth take over in the heart of audiences who can visualize it. A females’ character is as strong, courageous, honorable and lovable as any male’s, creating substance and meaning within her fictional world. My favorite television examples are the series Buffy the Vampire slayer and The 100. My favorite movie examples are Carrie (I loved the 2013 version, but the 1976 is the classic) and Underworld. These character roles were emotionally complex and suffered from fates much larger than themselves. A warrior chosen in her generation, she is the chosen one in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 100 juvenile prisoners are sent back to the earth to test its habitability; one girl takes charge in the TV series The 100. An innocent, pure, talented girl is raised by a religious Zealot is bullied until one fateful night in the film Carrie.

       The interesting motivation, need, and idea of heroines changing their situations within their own unique feature films does not only offer the audience a different perspective in the abilities for females, but also gives way for future meaningful heroes that girls and women can look up to and be inspired by. Film has the incredible way of making it so that it is the audience who escapes their reality, and if we can do that for both men and women, that would not only be equal, inspirational, and fair but a change for the better. Growing up in the late 90’s through early 2000’s, a girl such as myself, grew up watching a wide selection of Disney movies (both Disney classics and originals). I sought out inspiration and comparability no matter what. I always wanted to be like the characters I saw.  As I got older, I was able to appreciate films other than just Disney and Pixar titles. I was introduced to a wide variety of film in different genres that had diverse heroines and it made a…huge…difference.


Courtesy of AMC

          There are ordinary heroines who are also making a difference within the variation of television and film content today. These common heroes are keeping nontraditional, unconventional storytelling popular. Examples of unconventional films with ordinary heroes are: The help, Gravity, Flightplan and Disney warrior movies such as Brave and Mulan. In a nontraditional sense, these movies are examples that women can make a big difference in both the magical, fictionalized world and the tangible, current one we live in by staying within the contemporary universal scope of themed values we live by. This brings me to the point that women don’t need superpowers or magic to make an impact, be significant, or be heroic. Women have really proven their ability to embrace both simplistic and complex roles that they are given to them in both television and film.

           Some may say that the effect of advertisements, films, television, music videos, and video games portray women in the wrong light in respect to our current society, but I somewhat disagree. According to the Scientific American, “Superhero movies and other forms of entertainment, which are often viewed as a temporary escape from reality, may in fact be shaping our realities in ways that are more harmful than heroic” (May). Based on the study the authors found that entertainment media in contemporary society can affect gender role expectations, cultural standards, personal perceptions and attitudes in a negative way. While I do think that the authors made an extraordinary approach to the issue I believe other wise. We gain ideas, understanding, imagination, and experience from the tangible world in which we live in. The point in which this article is making about the temporary escape from reality actually being harmful for us can be countered. We need the temporary escape from our very short, busy, hard lives. If anything the media portrays our attitudes towards one another. The only way I see it as harmful is to place blame on the very medium we contribute to.


Courtesy of NYFA

         As a culture, I believe that people tend to go with what they perceive, overhear, and believe about how things are. This kind of variation results in subjective televised, broadcasted, and aired cultural norms. Are all of our cultural norms right? I don’t believe so in the least bit, nevertheless perspectives are learned, and observed anyways. I believe that this distraction can also be the best thing for us, depending on the temporary escape. I do not believe that it necessarily should be gender based. If you think about it, fictional heroes like Thor, Spider Man, Captain America and many other heroes are pretty much all stereotypically the “preferred” unrealistic body shape or size, so how much different is it for a heroine running to save the world in her heels with the preferred body “physique?” They are both biased examples. The problem lies in the societal expectation and the overall taught mentality.

         In my opinion, we have come along way in airing diverse, unconventional content which is a huge plus however, the expectation and mentality of the variation we include within our broadcasted media is still changing. We are now beginning to show gender queer relationships in various shows like Orange is the new black, Greys anatomy, and The 100. Many shows lack diversity as far as relationships are displayed.

crazy eyes

Courtesy of Bustle

       The matter of the fact is that entertainment media is supposed to be a temporary escape from the world we live in, and we can only let it harm us by what we allow to go on within the tangible world we live in. There are certain things we will never be able to do such as fly, or have the strength to move a city, and we all have that understanding, nevertheless the fictional world does not limit either gender to do so within film. With that being said, if we do not limit variation of both genders to participate within what we broadcast, which adds to our entertainment we are not only being fair, but we are taking a step in the right direction. We can fix the mentality of society’s expectation by including variation within roles and creating a balanced way of thinking. For example, Grey’s Anatomy. It’s a series which portrays an equal representation of gender and sexuality.

    Thinking past cultural standards and personal perceptions, we can agree that the tangible world we live in limits our nonfictional lives. In film, we set the limits in what happens throughout the duration. Heroines like heroes are given the responsibility to save people from what they can not control. The gender related issues that have impacted the variation of women’s roles within film have somewhat dissipated which has left audiences wanting more information and having more interests in what women can bring to the screen story related. According to the Vulture List, “Over the nearly 50 years’ worth of TV and movies covered here, female superheroes have fought an ongoing battle against one-dimensional representation, lack of backstory, underdeveloped personae, and relegation to eye-candy status. As women have knocked down barrier after barrier (both literally and figuratively), they’ve kicked the damsel-in-distress label to the curb in favor of more complex portrayals” (Leeds). We gain sympathy and personal attachment for what these women do, not so much what they look like. Their character is important personality wise, and that adds a big factor into our caring about them, as well as the community built around their character.


Courtesy of The New York Times

    Personally, I am able to see the humanity within the heroic character that a woman is portraying very well. Heroines can gain the same amount of emotional attachment from audiences as a hero can, not only through a variation of plots, but in character portrayal, that’s why heroines should be given the credit they deserve no matter their gender,  racial, and sexual differences. Heroines are not only radiating with meaning but they are affecting audiences by showing women and girls that they too are represented well.


Works Cited


Leeds, Sarene (November 2015). The 25 Best Onscreen Female Superheroes: Vulture Lists. Retrieved from


May, Cindi (June 2015). The Problem with Female Superheroes: Scientific American. A division of Nature America, INC. Retrieved from


Savery, Carol A.; Bajac-Carter, Maja; and Batchelor, Bob (2014). Heroines of Film and Television: Portrayals in Popular Culture. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved from


SCOTT, A. O. and DARGIS, Manohla (September 2014). Sugar, Spice and Guts: Representation of female characters in movies is improving. Retrieved from






The One-Dimensional, Stereotypical, “Normal” Female Detective No Longer Exists

          In the decade following Veronica Mars, the transformation of the portrayal, and cinematic focus of female detectives on TV has dramatically changed. By examining both new and existing tropes within contemporary crime series, the display of lone and partnered detective work, and how mainstream television dramas contribute “entertainment” to the reality we live in; we can then further understand how many crime series have begun contributing to the development of empowered, female detectives.

            Veronica Mars just may have influenced the need for female detectives to make those witty, one liners during very serious episodes. After all, it was Veronica Mars, a female detective that set the trend for complexed female, empowered detectives going forward. Aside from its catchy theme song We used to be friends, and her clever voice over; Veronica Mars was able to touch on important topics such as: rape culture and justice, community police work, wealth inequality, and dynamic detective partnership. Through flashbacks, the series effectively develops the characters, and sets up the plot. In doing so, viewers can understand what presents the motivation, and conflicts of interests for Veronica. One of the more recent crime series, Broadchurch depicts a female detective, Ellie Miller who is the exact opposite of Veronica Mars. Veronica does not let conflicts of interest derail her from excelling at her police work. In Veronica Mar’s world…she distrusts those around her; and anyone could be a suspect. Veronica investigates crimes associated with her classmates, neighbors, and community by researching, and gaining thorough evidence throughout various episodes.


                                                            (Courtesy of Glamour)

Unlike her peers, she is a detective which makes her more resourceful, smart, and knowledgeable about the people she lives amongst, and the reality she lives in. However, these flashbacks remind her of who she used to be, and the world she used to know.

In the pilot, Veronica’s voiceover says, “They gave me a choice. I could stand by my dad, or stand by Duncan and my dead best friend’s family. I chose Dad. It’s a decision I live with every day. And you want to know the kicker? I don’t even know what’s true anymore. Maybe everyone else is right. Maybe Dad screwed up the investigation. Maybe I gave up my circle of friends – my life – over an error in Dad’s judgment.”

 After her rape, the loss of Lily her best friend, and the decision she had to make between her father’s reputation, and Lily’s family; Veronica decides to handle it all with strength, motivation and hope. Her dynamic partnership with her father Keith, and her friend, Wallace allows for times of sadness, laughs, and hope. This dynamic partnership may have added to relatable partnerships between detectives in various gender roles, and detectives with different personalities. Contemporary series like Broadchurch, The Killing, present day SVU, and films such as Miss Congeniality, The Heat, Rush Hour etc. present such personal bonds between the partnered-up detectives. Where a dynamic partnership forms between a male and female detective. Nicci Gerrard refers to the show Broadchurch, in her article, “Move over, Morse: female TV detectives are on the case now” stating that “There might be frictions and rivalries, but the two detectives share secrets and a wry humor, drink pints of beer and glasses of wine together, bring humanity and wit to a world of poverty and gruesome murder. The two of them and their female boss normalize female authority in a way that a woman alone cannot.”

Veronica Mars evaluated a character’s development before, and after sexual violence; this in turn focuses mainly on the detective Veronica becomes. Some tropes that I found within the series were: how Veronica hides the fact that she was assaulted from those closest to her within the first season, and how rich kids often receive different punishments than that of others. However, I also believe that the series introduces a new trope that we often see today. Veronica Mars explores the interesting notion behind the victim also being the detective as well. Similar shows like Marcella explores this idea also. “For in this female world, the detective is also a victim. The walls between the professional and private worlds collapse and this allows the viewer to identify with the character…we can never identify with the expert, the invulnerable or the flawless”, says Gerrard.

In introducing the aftermath of sexual violence, viewers could say that Veronica Mars may have used such inspiration from shows like Law and Order: SVU. However, one thing viewers can identify with today is that there is a cat and mouse like game which often forms between Veronica, and the various suspects within each episode because, the series explores the ideas of trust, and peace. Although, the three major storylines involving Veronica’s rapist, Lilly’s murderer, and her mother’s disappearance are not solved right away; there are developments on these three storylines over the course of the series. In her article, “Veronica Mars, ‘TV’s Realest Depiction of Rape, Is Going to Be a Movie” Arielle Duhaime-Ross states, “Of the series’ three main-story-lines, Veronica’s rape was the only one creator Rob Thomas sustained for the entirety of the show. Veronica loses her virginity at a party in being drugged by one of her classmates. She spends the entirety of the series trying to uncover her rapist’s identity and bring him to justice — something she finally succeeds in doing in the very last episode. [There] is [e]xceptionally smart writing, and acting aside, the date rape story-line is what made this particular teen drama different from all that ones that aired before it. Unlike most televised rape accounts, Veronica was no damsel in distress waiting to be rescued.” Unlike many female detectives that came before her, she showed strength, personality, complexity, and uniqueness; Veronica Mars may have started the ongoing portrayal, and trend of realistic, empowered, female detectives, while displaying an acknowledgement of rape culture. This led to series like: The Killing, The Fall, Marcella, and Broadchurch.

            The Fall further expands upon a classic thriller’s take on the depiction of sexual violence, and presents a complexed, unique female detective by the name of Stella Gibson. Like SVU’s detective Olivia Benson, and Silence of the Lamb’s Clarice Starling, she helps the serial rapists’ victims, whilst still trying to understand the rapist, and bring him to justice. Only the female detective, Stella Gibson, brings you home with her. Throughout the show, the viewers see beyond the surface as Gibson mixes her personal, and professional life making it extremely interesting, confusing, and complexed. “For this female cast often bring[s] their own psychodramas into the traditional whodunnit, making it rich and bleak and murkily complicated. They are themselves mysteries; they resist easy solutions and the dynamic momentum of plot, which drives forward in spite of the repeated tugs of red herrings, and gets tangled up in the downward pull of character, in the labyrinths of memory, sadness, anger and guilt” says, Gerrard. Stella gets as much of attention as the killer does. Television portrays Stella’s sexuality, and personality from an intimate perspective…and it makes viewers more interested in her character. In this way television has made the detective just as important, multidimensional, relatable, and interesting. This attention to Stella Gibson’s quirky features, views on feminism, and odd personal life demonstrates a change in the way cinema plays a huge role in determining the main focus of a character in storytelling. Gerrard states, The Fall explores notions of femaleness and sexual violence and it does so in a way that is powerfully unsettling and sometimes queasy-making. The camera lingers on its central character: her strongly beautiful profile and the full curve of her lips; her sleek hair, her gorgeous silk shirts (almost as iconic as Lund’s jumper), her shapely calves, the way she looks as she swims, as she undresses. She is itemized, fetishized, turned into a body, watched and assessed. It can feel that the way the serial killer watches his victims is eerily replicated by the way the camera watches Gibson.”


                                                            (Courtesy of BBC)

            The Fall also addresses the “normalized” roles of gender, and challenges the stereotype viewers are historically used to. Viewers see Stella Gibson making out with a female colleague in one episode, and having sex with her male detective partner in another. Stella’s personal diary is found by the serial killer, in which presents the issues Stella had growing up with her father; this further complicates her motivations within the case. “She complicates this by her own sexual behaviour; aloof, icy, sexually passionate without being warm, she uses men the way that men traditionally use women. She turns them into objects, the way that women are turned into objects by the male gaze or, at the other end of the spectrum, by the rapist. Gibson, like Tennison or Lund, destabilises the traditional whodunnit. Fictional male detectives in the past have often been robust figures of competence, standing at the centre of the plot, from where they make sense of the incomprehensible, turn chaos into order, join up the clues to find the criminal, restore normality. But we no longer have such a belief in authority (the “Evening, all” of Dixon of Dock Green), in disinterested genius or in absolute answers. The world we live in now is more tentative, contingent and compromised; the doctor, the priest and the detective can’t solve everything”, Gerrard further adds.

Conversation between DCI Eastwood, and Stella Gibson Season 1, episode 3:

[DCI Eastwood:] When did you first meet Sergeant Olson?

[DSI Gibson:] That’s what really bothers you, isn’t it? The one night stand. Man fucks woman. Subject: man. Verb: fucks. Object: woman. That’s ok. Woman fucks man. Woman: subject. Man: object. That’s not so comfortable for you, is it?

            This leads many viewers to believe that female detective shows like, The Fall are contributing to recent ones such as, Marcella, and Broadchurch. While Veronica Mars had a smart reason for separating her personal life from that of her professional life; the two female detectives Marcella, and Ellie Miller do not. What do these female detectives have in common? They are all so strongly connected to their community. What makes them so very different is how they entangle their personal and professional lives together. In Marcella, we see this entanglement play out through an extreme, unsettling plot within the first season. It is a classic TV trope that a woman throw herself into her work because, she needs a distraction from something traumatic that has happened to her. In this case, Marcella throws herself into her work to avoid dealing with the fact her marriage is failing, her husband’s affair with Grace Gibson, and most importantly because, she has lost a child, by the name of “Juliette.” Another trope within this show, would be the cheating spouse who causes those closest to him/her damage in one way or another. Lastly, another trope within this show could be that the wife is cheated on, she can’t handle it, and she decides to kill the mistress. What is so enticing about Marcella, is the fact that viewers can witness a dirty detective’s destruction from the abuse of power. Marcella goes to great lengths to depict Marcella as someone who is innocent to viewers.

            Several major things about female detectives which have changed is that the female detectives are much more involved within their show’s plots, they also are more complexed, and they have trouble with keeping their personal lives and professional lives separate. Marcella depicts a female detective as a victim like Veronica Mars had. Except Marcella only appeared focused when covering up her own tracks, but distracted when making life changing decisions, which makes things much worse for her. Marcella has an interesting way of showing how Marcella has been affected by the aftermath of the changes that took place within her personal life. “Fictional detectives are often loners, but being women makes them doubly alone. Many thrillers are about good and evil, but these thrillers are about being human, flawed and in trouble. They make us care not only about the outcome – the satisfying narrative click is still there, if sometimes a bit muffled – but also about the characters. We identify with them, fear for them, want them to be happy, know they won’t be, want to own their shirts, or jumpers, or coats. For a while they are more real than our reality”, says Gerrard.  However, we are at odds with her complexed character, because of her violent outbursts, the terror she inflicts upon her husband, witnesses, and suspects.

MARCE                                                            (Courtesy of The Odyssey)

            In Broadchurch, viewers see a visually compelling story revolving around the death of a child in a small town. The series presents a much different female detective; however, she is very much involved within her community. Very much like Marcella, it’s all about separating one’s personal life from their professional one. Detective Ellie Miller struggles to separate how she perceives her community as a detective from her role within her community as one of its members. This causes a conflict of interest for her when she begins to investigate the death of a boy who happens to be her friend’s son. This is a realistic portrayal of a conflict of interest that probably happens for those who work within the criminal justice field. Because of the investigation that follows the boy’s death, many suspects, stories and secrets are explored. As the investigation happens, Ellie Miller, the local detective takes a backseat to avoid this conflict of interest within her community which can be just as dangerous as abusing one’s power as depicted in Marcella. This female, empowered detective is much different than what we originally saw within female, detective characters that previously followed. However, it follows the trend of complexed, damaged, and flawed female detective in very fragile situations. In his review, “A Murder Haunts a Rugged Coast” Mike Hale states, “It’s a pre-eminent example of what could be called the new International Style in television drama: a moody, slow-moving, complicated crime story with damaged heroes and not much redemption to go around.” The cinematic focus in this show is fixed on the location of the town, emotions and expressions on people’s faces to heighten the overall mood. The way that television presents this dynamic partnership is personal. By putting two totally different personalities on a case together; it focuses on developing the weak traits of each. This female, empowered character certainly challenges the “normalized” gender role women normally play on TV by paving the way for women to doubt, challenge, and grow their skills in police work. Although Ellie Miller is doubtful, and defensive most of her role, she overcomes this by working alongside the main detective, Alec Hardy. In response to the trend of messy resolutions within many series like this one Gerrard states that “[L]ives have been wrecked and grief cannot be assuaged. It uses the old tropes to make new meanings. There can’t be happy endings anymore. Female detectives represent this new kind of reality because, they often become implicated in the stories they are trying to make sense of. Women, however defended they are and strong, have a vulnerability about them simply because of their gender.”

BROAD                                                            (Courtesy of BlogSpot)

            I think it is important to realize that both men, and women can be depicted in all sorts of ways. Men are often shown as having little emotion within situations where women will have lots of emotion. But showing vulnerability is not based off gender, it’s all about cultural norms. The recent depictions of empowered, female detectives on television have been portrayed as ones with success, complexities, flaws, a range of sexualities, and determination. In creating empowered, bold female characters television is addressing the “normalized” roles of gender, and challenges the stereotypes viewers are historically used to. However, I do think that television is defining these women in a way that shows their inability to keep their personal lives separate from what is professional; Males struggle with this also.  The evolution of female detectives has come a long way. The one dimensional, stereotypical, “normal” female detective no longer exists because, the provisional truth of the world we once knew no longer exists.


Duhaime-Ross, Arielle. “’Veronica Mars,’ TV’s Realest Depiction of Rape, Is Going to Be a Movie.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 14 Mar. 2013,

Feeney, Nolan. “Veronica Mars: One of TV’s Realest Depictions of Wealth Inequality.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 13 Mar. 2014,

Gerrard, Nicci. “Move over, Morse: female TV detectives are on the case now.” The Observer, Guardian News and Media, 5 Oct. 2014,

Hale, Mike. “A Murder Haunts a Rugged Coast.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Aug. 2013,

Alias Grace: Netflix’s Latest Addition

The story of Alias Grace is about an Irish woman who emigrates to Canada; By the time she tells her story of the events which have unfolded, she is imprisoned but has put the past behind her.

Grace Marks tells her story from the very beginning to end regaining her memory for Dr. Simon Jordan. As she tells her story, the viewers witness tragedy take place at each point in Grace’s life. Dr. Jordan makes it clear that he is there to assess Grace Marks on her memory not on his judgement.

netflix alias grace

Courtesy of The Atlantic

Grace goes on to tell the Dr. about the events that had an impact on her leading up the grisly murders which have institutionalized, and imprisoned her. In these vivid, raw flashbacks of Grace’s acknowledgement of the tragedy, confinement and betrayal in her life, the viewers must be in shock from the use of this trusting first person narrative.

 Viewers see how the situations Grace once faced early on in her life has affected her maturity, and well being. Each event playing a significant impact on the audience’s trust of Grace: From escaping her father and losing her mother, to escaping from her maid post in Toronto and losing her closest friend, to the events that took place at her post with Mr. McDermott. Grace informs viewers of the provisional time which once was society. With her stories, she includes universal truths about money, gender, and power. She would also casually voice her opinions through witty lines like: “I knew what he was up to; but it was not original.”

Courtesy of Variety

Alias Grace introduces a complicated story line without answering the bottom line question of Grace’s innocence, or guilt. It also introduces an overwhelming interest surrounding Dr. Jordan’s perception of Grace, and his suppressed interest in her. For its audience, it addresses many important issues surrounding women now, and back then. “‘Handmaid’s Tale’ looks forward into where we could end up with gender politics, Alias Grace’ looks back to where we came from” says, Actress Sarah Gadon for New York Daily News.

At the Tiff screenings, Attwood reportedly stated, “If I had known the truth, I probably wouldn’t have written a book. And if I had known the truth and told it to Sarah [Polley], she probably wouldn’t have made this show. The interesting thing is the way everybody projects their ideas onto Grace. The fact that she had various stories that she told to different audiences… well, that always affects the story that you tell — who the audience is. Does it not?” says, Cosmopolitan.


Courtesy of The Daily Dot

Santa Clarita diet review

Reviewed by Amanda Lyles


curtesy of Netflix

Green lawns, spotless streets, and a typical family living in suburban California.

Right away we are introduced to a modern picture of what this suburban family is really like however, the episode does not leave us guessing about anything. The Hammonds, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) a team of realtors who also have a daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson) are friendly and clever people. They also have neighbors who are involved within their community for instance, the classic nosey neighbor, Dan who works for the L.A. sheriff’s department. He suspects everything and anything to have potential problems. Victor Fresco, the show’s creator is known for taking ordinary situations and adding irrational humor to mock an unusual situation that would most likely be taken seriously in all actuality. The acting in my opinion is on cue. Timothy Olyphant is and Drew Barrymore are fantastic in portraying their characters. The show’s premise is a unique portrayal of the undead or if you must call them zombies. In many ways this series is relatable, in other ways not so much. The typical reaction of one family to one member’s change in behavior as well as, this show’s underlying unpredictability with their community’s interaction is there. As the series begins we notice that Sheila is ill. This leads to her throwing up and leaving evidence of a red ball figure.


Courtesy of Bustle

Sheila begins to emotionally transform from a woman who was once uptight, to a woman who has no impulse control due to her illness. Sheila encourages her neighbors to have affairs and she even buys a Land Rover. Vesco also adds slight emotion which gives the show balance and meaning. It constantly has its humorous moments however, at times the overall premise emanates which does make viewers sympathize for Sheila and her family. Sheila’s diet begins to change as she once only craved raw meat but, now only human beings. After Sheila realizes that she can no longer feel her heart beat she tells Abby and Joel who also cannot hear one. This Netflix original becomes increasingly witty in humor as they try to understand Sheila’s threatening condition. When the family understands that Sheila’s condition is complexed and they need answers fast this clever humor arises, “How could this happen, we are realtors!”. –Joel Hammond

“I’m so glad that these aren’t one of those diseases that dries your skin out” –Sheila Hammond

As the show continues, the Hammond family tries to find solutions for Sheila’s zombie-like condition which makes this show perfect for unpredictability. The story does have a foundation and isn’t just completely random with characters and their encounters with one another. The family works together and soon realizes that it isn’t as easy as they had hoped. Since Sheila’s condition has caused her to lose almost all impulse control, this leads Sheila and Joel down a dangerous, life changing path. Although, Joel often questions his ability to commit such cruel acts for his wife to stay sane and ultimately survive. Joel and Sheila try to kill those who are out casted out (rapists, murders, drug dealers and human traffickers) of society to justify their reasons for keeping Sheila alive.  I think the writing certainly brings up existentialistic questions about humanity. However, I wish it could have more of an impact. The writing could have more substance and mystery which would contribute more of an impact onto its viewers.

“It’s like my life is spiraling toward disaster and there’s no way out. I can’t even talk about it with the person I love the most because, she’ll blame herself and that’s not what I want.” –Joel Hammond


Image from The Sun

Joel tries to obtain more answers, we see that Sheila is beginning to have more symptoms. For instance, one of her toes falls off in which case, she tries to glue it back on. The writing does have times where it surprises or brings up more questions for the viewers. However, it could be more impactful if it didn’t answer all the questions right away. In other words, it could find solutions later and have more significance. At the end of the first season, Joel bumps into someone who happens to know about his wife’s symptoms. He knows an ex CDC scientist Cora Wolf who is experimenting in fringe biology (Portia de Rossi) and gives Joel the scientist’s number. The scientist and Joel come into contact and meet at the Hammond’s house. The ending of the series leaves us with a cliff hanger.  Joel is arrested for trying to get one of the ingredients for Sheila. Sheila is moving to the next phase of becoming a zombie in which she has become more aggressive and has asked Abby to tie her up in the basement. Lastly, the ex CDC scientist leaves because of Joel’s arrest. These cliff hangers could be used throughout the show rather than at the end of each episode to excited its viewers more. Although, I think they left off with a good cliff hanger.