Monday, April 03, 2006

I watched last week’s episode of Smallville last night. It’s felt like a while since we’ve gotten new episodes, but frankly, I hadn’t really minded not having to watch it. Part of it is the fact that, after five years, nothing seems to have really changed or evolved on the show. (How many other shows could kill off a supposedly major character without a single ripple?) But part of it is just an increasing dissatisfaction with another aspect of the show.

A few episodes ago, we got a story dealing with Lois and Chloe being menaced by the spirit of a murdered girl out for revenge. It was a truly pedestrian episode, and could have come from almost any supernatural TV series: Buffy, Angel, Supernatural, Ghost Whisperer... Take your pick. But in talking to a friend about it, I realized that it really brought to the front a problem that, sadly, I had only been registering subconsciously.

So here’s the problem I currently have with Smallville, and I don’t know if it’s a problem that’s always exisited and I--shamefully--didn’t notice before, or if it’s been something that’s been growing over the past few seasons. But every woman on the show is either a victim or evil. And I recognize that, it being a show about Superman, almost every story is going to involve characters needing to be rescued by Clark Kent. I get that. But it’s not constantly ending up tied next to explosives that makes Lana a weak victiim character--although it certainly helps--it’s the fact that her character isn’t strong enough to tell Clark that she isn’t putting up with his crap any more and walking away. Chloe exists to pass on information to Clark and get tied up. Lois exists to tease about the future, and to get tied up and beaten.

And then I read in last month’s issue of SFX that Erica Durrance, who plays Lois, has a phobia of water. And last season, she was put in a death trap that involved a slowly flooding room gradually covering her with water and threatening to drown her. And this season, she fell in love with Aquaman, a storyline that required the actress to spend lots of time in the water.

And I read this, and I’m thinking the producers had to know of her phobia. And there was no particular reason for her to be the one Aquaman falls for and not, say, Chloe, since the characters are completely interchangeable. And this is complete conjecture on my part, but it almost sounds like the producers made he decision to put the actress in an uncomfortable position. And if that’s the case, and you combine it with what appears to be a mysogynist streak running through the storytelling, and it just leaves an increasingly bad taste in my mouth.

And I’m not quite to the point where I don’t want to watch the show, but it’s bothering me more now than it should.

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