Finally, after a year of hard hitting one hour drama shows, two pilots sealed the deal for me just when I thought there was no hope for the remainder of 2014. ‘House of Cards’ ended its second season with an overly dramatic table knocking from Frank (something which was more fiery than the 12 episodes that preceded it), True Detective left me feeling all dreary about the fact that there was no other thread to the story to obsess about (however I must admit that I too was swallowed up by the mayhem about who was going to be in the cast for the second season- not Brad Pitt, thank God) and Fargo spun me into an avalanche of a journey that was chilling (and a little idle at times, unfortunately).
But then it was silent.
I thought it was time to hit IMDB and look up some feature films I had shamefully missed out on. There were so many that I watched. So many, that I understood why the same type of film wins at the Oscars. EVERY YEAR.
Then, these happened:
Two highly riveting dramas lead by female characters. Thank you very much. And who would have seen this coming? For some reason I was under the notion that execs would block all chances of such a concept because it was against tradition and a bane for “sales” (which we all know is total BS).
So here we have two very different stories with strong leads who are tormented by their pasts, hope for a better future and are actively working towards it, have highly challenging professions and are- wait for it, because it made me raise my brows- extremely secretive.
Yes, they keep things from us and from those around them. The latter is fun to watch, but the former is really risky. Especially in the case of ‘The Honourable Woman’, Nessa Stein (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) is plagued by her past- an event that took place which has caused terrible repercussions in her present life.
We spend every episode trying to uncover this and we learn more about her as a person in the process. It’s skillfully done, as writer Hugo Blick makes sure that we are with her, invested in this journey that gives us very little clues.
On the other hand, with Extant, we know what Molly (played by Halle Berry) is dealing with right from the beginning. The thrill is in watching her trying to hide her secret from her family and friends, some of whom are evil- therein lies another pit of secrets which we have no access to. The antagonists hold the veil over themselves and we want to find out about what they’re hiding.
Female characters can be more complex and fun to watch, especially when the drama is so carefully crafted to seem like a deep web of hidden truths and past experiences of characters that we yearn to untangle before us. I think this should spark off more shows (there have been perhaps a few here and there in the past) where female actors are deemed equally capable as male actors in carrying off gritty and thrilling stories for audiences to be a part of.