During the numerous press interviews I attended at SDCC this year, I got to talk to a number of actresses on shows like The 100, The Magicians, Lucifer, Mr. Robot, and the upcoming Frequency and Time after Time. The word “empowering” came up so many times that I lost count. It came up again with all of the ladies of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Preacher's Ruth Negga during their panels. That word kept coming up.
Whether it was actress Portia Doubleday talking about how she feels empowered by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail to really dive into Angela or The Magicians' Stella Maeve speaking about how amazing it feels to play a character like Julia, you could see the light in each of these actresses eyes as they talked about how it felt to be given the opportunity to play a character that was well-rounded and real.
They praised their showrunners, their writers, their fellow actors for giving them the opportunity to play women who weren't stereotypical, who didn't need a man to complete them, who weren't just a slut or a ditzy secretary, or just fine until things went crazy and then a man would step in to “save them”.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of sci-fi/fantasy television and movies, but it wasn't until SDCC that I realized the reasons I'm even more engaged with so many TV shows currently is because of that female empowerment. It makes the characters more interesting and it also makes them more fun to watch. Knowing that each of those actresses also love playing their characters makes me even more enthused and excited to see what's coming.
Look, I know some people are like “okay, we get it, girl power. Fine.”, but there's something really invigorating about seeing women do things that used to be strictly done by men. Women used to be the ones being saved, now they're just as able to save themselves or others. Look back at movies from the 50's and 60's (and 70's and 80's..) and you'll see a lot of women who need a man to help them in one way or another. A lot of women who are strippers with hearts of gold, wives who don't get any real screen time, love interests who stay behind as the hero goes off and saves the day. I grew up with it and the only place I saw a glimpse of something different was in the science fiction and fantasy realm. Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor were women who challenged the status quo and they were, for the most part, the exception and not the rule.
With shows like The Expanse, Killjoys, The Magicians, The 100, Wynonna Earp, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Preacher, and so many others, we're starting to see an entire genre embracing women as the powerful and amazing beings they are.
It's just as empowering to the actresses playing the roles as it is to the women and girls watching. That's pretty cool if you ask me.