Fuck off, Don Draper, Walter White, Tony Soprano, et al. The age of the male antihero is over. Sure, you’ve had a good run. And, fuck, look at all those
shiny, shiny Emmys. But I’m sick of praising all these Difficult Men. You’re “damaged” and “complex” and “tough” and “violent” and “immoral” and yadda
yadda. But your time has come and now it’s our time. Welcome to age of Difficult Women.
Granted, there have always been Difficult Women on TV and in pop culture. But they’re usually the nagging voice to be suffered through by Difficult Men.
But not anymore. Now they get their own shows and change to shine. And it’s glorious, just fucking glorious.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about how there will
successful female antiheroes in the media. How there simply can’t be a female Tony Soprano. And,
while I agree it’s a different and difficult road women have to travel than men because of — let’s face it — sexism, that doesn’t mean we aren’t around.
There have been others. Nancy Botwin. Patty Hewes. Jackie Peyton. Beatrix Kiddo. Lisbeth Salander. And now we have three stellar new shows — “Orange Is the New Black,” “Orphan Black” and ” The Fall” — all revel in the world of the Difficult Women.
These might not be antiheroes in the sense of being hypermasculine men who treat the women in their lives like shit and will resort to any means necessary
to succeed up to an including murder. But they are antiheroes in the sense that they aren’t traditionally likable, noble or conciliatory female roles.
These are women with full agency — or coming into their own agency by way of a year long-stint in prison — who don’t give a shit about being polite.
Orange’s Piper (a whitebread princess thrown into prison and forced to confront herself and fundamentalist methheads), Orphan’s Sarah (a street kid who is
no stranger to the long con who fights against an international clonespiracy with lethal force) and Fall’s Stella (a brilliant detective chasing after a
serial killer who has no problem with one-night stands and no interest in making nice) are all antiheroes in their own way. They take the traditional
narrative of a female heroine and turn key aspects on their head.
I think one of those key elements of a good female antihero is the pushback. Pushing back against the expected. Against the preconceived notions of what we
should be, as heroines. This is more than about physical strength, the easiest way to signify a “strong woman.” This is about allowing women to be fucked
up and flawed. Allowing women to exist outside the “chick flick” genre. Allowing women to be their own heroes in unheroic ways. That makes them, in some
people’s eyes, difficult. And in my eyes, fucking fantastic.