So this is probably going to be a recurring theme of these blog posts as I figure out more and more what bothers me with popular women-targeted movies and tv-series. In this instalment we’re going to talk about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, partially because I just started watching it and partially because I read a comment on twitter about this recent trend of stories that seem feminism on the surface but really isn’t. Crazy Ex Girlfriend was one of them, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Jane the Virgin two others and I’m going to toss in 30 Rock there too for good measure, because they all do the same goddamn thing.
Granted, I’m still really early in Crazy Ex and I have yet to see Jane the Virgin, so consider me ready to be proven wrong. So far there does seem to be a trend in these shows that also stuck out to me in Sex and the City the Movie, where women are consistently portrayed as naive, selfish and emotionally stunted. This in itself isn’t a problem. I’d love to see more female leads and supports that are allowed to be less than perfect – Ghostbusters is a perfect example of doing it well – but the message that’s sent with these messy wonderful women is less than good.
When men are portrayed as immature and selfish, it’s rarely at their expense. No, it’s just good fun, boys will be boys, they’ll come out the hero in the end and get the girl because girls are just as stupid! When women get the same treatment though, it’s at their expense. The solution to their problems is so often a man. The problems they face are because of their own flaws as women, whether it’s because they don’t take care of themselves enough or because they fall into the trap of beauty routines mandated by the patriarchal society. As women, we can never win and I’m noticing that very same thing in three of these shows (I’ll get back to you on Jane the Virgin, some day).
The annoying thing here for me is that they do try to discuss some serious stuff here. Kimmy Schmidt addresses topics of PTSD, 30 Rock discusses the difficulty of balancing a career with the desire to be a parent before it’s too late, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend starts off with questioning whether a well-paid job is the right path to being happy and content in your life. Good topics that I’m sure is relevant to a lot of women, but they’re so steeped in irony and cheeky controversial jokes (racist, sexist, homo- and transphobic) that it comes off as disingenuous.
It’s the same problem I had with Sex and the City the Movie. I’m a sloppy, confused, childish, sometimes selfish woman and I’d love to see someone like that be the hero in her own story just like men get to every single day, but when I watch that story I don’t want to feel like I’m being made fun of. I don’t want to feel like the only thing I can do is be a man-repellant or try to steal a prettier, thinner woman’s boyfriend while the audience laughs because how could I, when I’m so fat and my hair is so greasy? I don’t want my daddy issues to be the punch line. I don’t want a man to be the one to explain how wax strips and impossible career ambitions are stupid. I don’t want my identity to be smothered in irony.
Honestly, just go watch Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite instead, or Grace and Frankie. They had some heart, which is more than I’m getting from any of these things.