Samantha Jones from Sex and the city given similar treatment. As Jones pursues his career and the people of Manhattan, writers often remind us of his anti-child belief system. It was made explicit when he asked a mother and her crying baby to leave a fancy restaurant.
“I understand that your son and I have to live side by side in this city,” he said. “But maybe you can take her somewhere more suitable for Happy Meal, so I can eat a happier one.”
Ironically, by freeing these characters to break free from the marriage/child pipe, they’re stuck in one thing different: the constant explanation of why they have no marriage or children.
Marriage and its effect on the female character
Marriage has always been the quickest way to steer an attractive female character down the aisle of anonymity.
From Clara Bow’s character Betty Lou in the silent film He (1927), up to Gossip Girlthe credits roll once the women, whom we watched over the course of the season develop into complex characters, fulfill their destiny: their identities homogenized with – more often than not – mediocre men.
Sex and the city ended when Carrie’s big bag, Friends ended when Rachel gave up her dream job for Ross, How did I meet your mother ends when Ted’s wife has been dead long enough for him to finally ask Robin out.
Even Catwoman can’t escape the clutches of marital terror: At the last moment That The black knight rises (2012), director Christopher Nolan tames the cat into an ancient life on the Italian coast with Bruce Wayne.
Women take control of storytelling
Florence + Machine King is the latest counter-call, and slowly more interesting women’s stories emerge as more and more women take control of our stories.
On his Grammy-winning album Daddy’s House (2021), St. Vincent hits the tune with his song My Baby Wants a Baby. Asking himself if he should have children, he argues:
‘But I want to play guitar all day / microwave all my food’
Her reasons for not wanting children go far beyond the caricature and disaster explanations that have flooded pop culture—it’s refreshing, and a far more acceptable answer to the choices facing women my age and generation (especially as someone who likes microwaved food a little more than she should. ).
It is perhaps no coincidence that these alternative narratives are most common when women are at the helm of the narrative – St. Vincent produced and wrote the album himself.
Maggie Gyllenhaal 2021 Movie, The Lost Princess, complicated – in a good way. The protagonist is not the healthy, unselfish mother we are used to, but one who has struggled. She both loves her children and hates the “devastating responsibilities of motherhood”.
Then there’s the Emmy Award-winning British TV series, flea bag, written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. It’s both hilarious and heartbreaking, an inspection of the intimacy of female friendships, family politics, and the inner turmoil of a woman who is both utterly self-assured and utterly destructive.
Waller-Bridge said: “It’s amazing to know – and convincing – that such a dirty, perverted, hot-tempered and screwed woman could make it to the Emmys”. A dirty, perverted, angry, chaotic woman who doesn’t need a redeeming arc to concern us.
And wide city, The five-season show, written by Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, focuses on the friendship between two women as they navigate work, relationships, struggles, and celebrations in New York. The show ends with them leaving to pursue their careers.
These stories are more interested in the complexity and grit of their characters, stories that don’t strip women of their identity before, during, or after children and relationships.
A thunderous reminder of Florence + Machines King will reverberate in spaces where narratives written by women have long been ignored by popular culture: I’m not the mother, I’m not the bride, I’m the King.
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