Episode 2: Bad girls and female anti-heroes

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman... meoooow!

In our second recorded session, we sat down to talk about the history of bad girls, the female anti-heroes we love and loathe, primarily focusing on film and television. Looking back to origins in mythology and classic literature, our conversation worked its way to the modern “bad girls,” from the tough action ladies and Blacksploitation film heroines, to evil Disney queens and stepmothers, to current television characters. We talk about how content creators still fail in their portrayal of female anti-heroes, as well as share our personal favorites and examples of getting it right, so to speak.

This episode isn’t too heavy on specific plot discussions of TV shows, but things may get spoiled for you if you haven’t:

  • gotten to the point that you actually know who River Song is and her background (season 6 of Doctor Who reboot)
  • don’t know who Nikki is on Misfits
  • haven’t watched Battlestar Galactica as far as the Battlestar Pegasus story arc
  • you’ve never seen Kill Bill (what!?)

You may listen to this latest episode in the embedded player below, or download (right-click save)/stream directly from this link. As always, remember that we are available via iTunes, so find us and subscribe! Also, please comment and let us know if you have any discussion themes you’d love to hear us take on in some of our upcoming podcast episodes.

Included also are some videos to supplement the podcast:

The birth of Harley Quinn

Catwoman’s first night out on the town

O-Ren Ishii knows how to make an entrance

Bonus! Eartha Kitt singing “I Want to be Evil”

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7 Responses to Episode 2: Bad girls and female anti-heroes

  1. GeekGurlPhD says:

    Loved the ep…very interesting! Now have the stream download set up so I won’t lose track of y’all. :)

  2. koreofasphodel says:

    Great episode! I loved hearing your thoughts on Greek mythology in respect to female characters. I’d love to see that as a topic for an episode sometime!

  3. Ora says:

    Preface: I’m grossly underviewed when it comes to the Whedonverse, except that I have seen every episode of Firely (plus the film) many many times.

    So when it was mentioned about the kind of character Adelle DeWitt is in Dollhouse (I’m familiar with the concept but haven’t seen any), it very much reminded me of a female version of Malcolm Reynolds. Could it be that Joss Whedon just recycled Mal into a female character for Dollhouse? Just a thought to throw out there.

    Also, definitely Mystique for the win here. I think there is so much to her character, and I’d love to read all the issues with her in them after having researched her entire history in comics on various wikis online. She is not exactly a villain, though. I would say she best categorizes as an anti-villain. I’m going to talk more about Mystique in a couple submissions I’m planning to send to you all (one on identity, the other on gender and/or transsexuality), so just stay tuned… ;-)

    • Lois Lois says:

      Hi Ora,

      As a Mystique fan (greatest of great anti-villains) I can tell you right now that I’m looking forward to your pieces since Mystique’s gifts make her a great character to study! Can’t wait to read them!

  4. Joss says:

    I’m very late in commenting on this episode, since I only recently discovered your podcast. But anyway, I wanted to commend you on another wonderful episode. Thanks for bringing up mental illness! I don’t see mental illness (and disability in general) being discussed as much as I think it should be. And really, there’s a lot that could be said about it. The violent mentally ill person that we often see in pop culture is especially disturbing to me, since mentally ill people are more likely to be the victims of crimes rather than the perpetrator.

    And there are other things relating to mental illness and villains that I think are worth talking about as well. For example, how is mental illness treated differently in male characters vs. female characters? A character like Dexter is kind of weird in that he’s both violent and mentally ill, yet in the audience is supposed to see him as sympathetic because he only kills “bad guys.” I’m not sure there’s a female equivalent out there.

    And then there are the times when mental illness (and other disabilities) are used as a punishment for bad behavior. The first example I could think of was Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter. After behaving like a pompous ass throughout the book/movie, he’s punished with mental illness after a spell backfires. There are examples of this sort of thing happening to female characters as well.

    Anyway, I think I’ve rambled at you enough. I’m really glad I’ve found this podcast and look forward to listening to more.

  5. Tanya says:

    Hi Joss! Thank you so much for tuning in and for such thoughtful comments. We’ve got a couple podcast episodes coming up down the line (we’re been pretty sporadic as we’ve been expanding our website content AND preparing for our panel at Geek Girl Con).

    That’s a pretty good point about Dexter. The only equivalent I can offer up is the character of Alice Morgan (played by Ruth Wilson) on BBC’s “Luther”. She’s narcissistic, sociopathic, has killed, is hyper intelligent, yet she is portrayed as a surprisingly likable ally for the Det. Luther (Idris Elba). If you haven’t seen the series, I really recommend you check it out.

    There’ve been some instances where a female character would see or hear things (Wonderfalls, Joan of Arcadia), but I don’t quite remember if the character was explained as having some sort of mental illness to explain those scenarios. Whatever it is, the women were frequently doubted and mocked for their “ability.”

    I’m def no expert, but I would really love to see more diverse, eloquent coverage of characters with mental illness in TV and film.

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