A fascinating deep-dive into how shows from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Equalizer have changed the way women are portrayed on television.
The last three decades of television have been a formative and progressive time for female characters, as stronger, more independent women have appeared on screen to guide a new generation of viewers into their own era of power. These characters battle vampires, demons, corrupt government officials, and scientific programs all while dealing with the same real-world concerns their audiences face every day.
In Fierce Females on Television: A Cultural History, Nicole Evelina examines ten shows from the past thirty years to unveil the enormous impact they have had on the way women are portrayed on television. She reveals how Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Alias, Nikita, Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, Homeland, House of Cards, Orphan Black, and The Equalizer feature extraordinary lead characters who are at the same time utterly relatable, facing surprisingly familiar questions in their everyday lives regarding sexuality, gender, and how to fight back in a patriarchal world.
Fierce Females on Television shows how, even with their captivating mix of melodrama, mystery, magic, and martial arts, these shows nevertheless represent the audience’s own desires and fears. Finally, viewers of science fiction, fantasy, spy, and political shows have strong, modern women to watch, admire, and emulate.
Nicole Evelina is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction, non-fiction, and women’s fiction. Her books have won more than 50 awards, including four Book of the Year designations. She was named Missouri’s Top Independent Author by Library Journal and Biblioboard as the winner of the Missouri Indie Author Project in 2018 and has been awarded the North Street Book Prize and the Sarton Women’s Book Award. In addition to books, her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. Her other book in the Cultural History of Television series is Sex and the City: A Cultural History.
PART I: THE SHOWS AND THEIR LEADING LADIES
PART II: THE ISSUES
About the Author
This entertaining study from novelist Evelina surveys how, since the mid-1990s, a new crop of shows has centered around 'stronger' and 'more independent' female leads than the medium had previously seen. She suggests that such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, and Jessica Jones foreground the concerns of ordinary women, even when their protagonists have extraordinary abilities, marking a shift from the working mothers (Clair Huxtable in The Cosby Show) or unrelatable superheroes (The Bionic Woman) that had been the norm.... [F]ans will enjoy the fresh insights into some old favorites.
Evelina takes a close look at ten television shows from the last two and half decades that feature strong heroines in this slim, engaging volume. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed at the end of the 1990s into the early aughts to more recent shows like Agent Carter, Orphan Black, and the current incarnation of The Equalizer starring Queen Latifah, Evelina examines how the lead female characters navigate sexism, lean into family and friends for support, and fight the patriarchy. Evelina readily acknowledges the shows' failings, or in some cases, those of their creators, including how many do not feature characters of color, and how others, such as Homeland, leaned into problematic stereotypes. She also expertly conveys how each of the ten shows was groundbreaking in its representation of women taking center stage and fighting against the many obstacles in their way while inspiring female audiences. Evelina offers a guide to three essential episodes from each show in this delightful analysis for fans of some or all of the shows featured and for those new to them.
A thoughtful and accessible read for teen fans looking for a deeper dive into any of the featured shows.
Award-winning Evelina uses 10 television shows from 1994–2022 to explore feminist issues.... [T]his is an accessible study of archetypes and their pop culture iterations.Evelina gives viewers of the featured 10 shows an excuse to binge watch some of their old favorites.
When it comes to expositions on fierce and fearless females, there's no better authority than Nicole Evelina. Her deep dives into the badass—and, sometimes, sadly forgotten—women of history is unparalleled, and her research is second-to-none. Evelina continues in this tradition with the Fierce Females on Television contribution to the Cultural History of Television series. Her approach to characters ranging from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Carrie Matheson of Homeland is both brilliant and relevant, and she explores everything from character development to topical issues in an intelligent, multifaceted way, without coming across as inaccessible. Fierce Females on Television is a fine contribution to the Cultural History of Television series, and a must-read for both feminists and gender studies scholars alike.
Nicole Evelina’s Fierce Females on Television: A Cultural History mixes a breezy writing style with a comprehensive overview of the emerging bad-assery of women on television from the mid-1990s to the present day. Examining heroines from Buffy to The Equalizer’s Robyn McCall, Evelina not only ties their fierceness and femaleness to their sociopolitical contexts and broadens the discussion beyond superpowers to include characters such as Peggy Carter and Carrie Mathison, but focuses on the nuances—and responsibilities—of power and what it means for a woman to wield it.
This book was highlighted in the Forthcoming Titles in Performing Arts & Mass Media, 2023 list.