This has been a particularly crummy week for great women. Obviously I’m annoyed as all get-out that ABC canceled Agent Carter (even as Captain America: Civil War nears $300 million in domestic gross alone). It is certainly worth considering the show’s flaws even aside from ratings — this Medium post articulates a lot of what it was up against from the inside, and why the second season stumbled where the first season seemed so promising. I don’t agree with all of it, but I can’t deny a lot of it.
That said, I’m convinced more than ever of the show’s importance, especially when CBS passed on a Sarah Shahi-led series for being “too female,” when Woody Allen still commands respect, when Donald Trump brushes off years of humiliating women, when we’ll never get to see Gina Torres as Macbeth, when Iron Man 3 originally had a female villain but got rewrites because it literally wouldn’t sell toys, when instead we get… the MacGyver reboot nobody ever asked for. Per Bustle‘s Sabienna Bowman:
If female leads and women-led shows with passionate fanbases are being disregarded by network TV, then the message begins to feel like women should take their “too female” tastes somewhere they might matter — or just not expect TV to represent them whatsoever.
Well. There’s a Change.org petition to bring Agent Carter to Netflix, where I think it would be a much better fit alongside Jessica Jones, now Marvel’s only female-helmed brand. The petition has more than 75,000 signatories from around the world. While we’re waiting for that to pan out…
- There have been a lot of dumb takes on Civil War, but not all hope is lost. NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour took on “Captain America, Aaron Burr and the Politics of Killing Your Friends” — thank you, Linda Holmes, for everything you are. Tor.com also looked at the emotional underpinnings of the story and how they refute the need for successively bigger world-ending threats. My favorite article on storytelling trends, proved right again!
- For more great women who are creators, Vice has a nice interview with cartoonist and illustrator Kate Beaton, who left “prestige” creative cities Brooklyn and Toronto for Nova Scotia, and with good reason.
- The Wall Street Journal looked into how good the jobs created by the economic recovery really are. Pair with Emilie Shumway’s essay on the psychological toll of job-hunting among young people who don’t yet have the experience to get hired… anywhere they used to, really. Not that it’s any better if you have the right experience anyway.
- At Lilith, Yaëlle Azagury’s must-read personal essay looks at growing up Moroccan Jewish and all the languages that entails. Pair with lexicographer Ben Zimmer’s take on Lin-Manuel Miranda, language and the immigrant experience in Hamilton.
- Finally, lost in the fallout over an editor potentially losing his job because of an identity from a former life, chef Eddie Huang wrote the excellent “On the Oppressive Whiteness of the Food World” first.
Ultimately, context aside, I think all these links come down to one sentiment, perfectly and profanely (as usually) expressed by Star Wars: Aftermath author Chuck Wendig:
For the next week, I have this problem: I want to be on the Internet, and particularly social media, but I also want to go into seeing Captain America: Civil War next Friday without having seen most of it in either leaked clips or people talking openly about spoilers. Concurrently, I’m also eager for any news at all about my favorite TV show, Agent Carter, and whether it’s been renewed. (Surely it would be terrible to cancel this amazing show while Peggy Carter’s surviving crew is dominating silver screens worldwide? Then again, I’m biased and think any circumstances under which we lose Agent Carter are terrible.)
So, I’m not quite in hiding, but I’m enacting any number of precautions to be sure I get my peak #TeamCap experience. Happily, this does mean I’ve found a lot of good stories I’ve enjoyed.
- We’ve all learned a lot about Prince and the ways he changed the world. I had no idea Prince also lived with epilepsy; Karrie Higgins’ essay “Prince and the Sparkle Brains” is a deeply felt and movingly written look at disability and representation, and a must-read on every level.
- I’m a big fan of lists, and having recently become a big fan of making comics, I was delighted when Science of Us underscored the benefits of drawing your to-do lists.
- Pop culture is all superheroes all the time these days, except when it’s taking a breather in Westeros. The Imaginary Worlds podcast has a great episode about, well, the practical concerns of fantasy and sci-fi — namely, “The Economics of Thrones and Starships.”
- The overlap in the Venn diagram of nerds and book-lovers is huge. LitHub has a nice entry in the ongoing genre of KonMari response pieces, “On the Heartbreaking Difficulty of Getting Rid of Books.” Pair with the Atlantic‘s more socially skeptical piece, “Marie Kondo and the Privilege of Clutter.”
- This week a friend and I broke out some DVDs I own but had never watched: the early episodes of the ’80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, one of my most formative texts. A close analysis of the famous theme song led us to theorize that the Leonardo voice actor sings it. However, the truth was even better: The voice of a generation is a high-concept session artist named Jim Mandell. He spoke briefly to Dish Nation in 2014 about, among other things, his work as dieselpunk music visionary Miles Doppler. A great mystery of my childhood, solved at last — and weirder than I could have hoped.
Good morning, friends! I am back in Chicago for the first time since I moved to New York, and I have been doing a really excellent job of revisiting all my favorite haunts, including pulling a double-header with the superlative Improvised Shakespeare Company last night. (That’s a Top 5 Thing I Miss About Chicago item, by the way. Probably the most magnificent improv ever improv’d — not to get hyperbolic, but it’s true.)
I also watched the GOP debate in Detroit. That sure happened.
Here are some links that have nothing to do with the GOP debate, because honestly, what more is there to say?
- There are enough hedgehogs in Ipswich to require a dedicated hedgehog officer.
- The second season of Agent Carter ended last week, and it was amazing and I loved it and very much want more. Alas, the ratings are worrisome (as they always are with your favorite shows, right?). TV Guide and Variety both wrote excellent defenses of the show, and I’m not above not-so-quietly linking a “How to tell ABC you want Season 3” guide. This show is both important and great.
- Speaking of excellent feminist role models, if you haven’t read firefighter Caroline Paul’s excellent op-ed “Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared?” you absolutely should — and, if you want to see what they’re up against, follow it with A. Hope Jahren’s piece on women in STEM and the male colleagues who harass them out of their careers.
- I did j-school in Evanston, but I came to Chicago for Hyde Park. Chicago magazine just did a brief shout-out to six great things happening on the South Side these days. It’s nice to hear about good examples, because UChicago’s relationship with the neighborhoods where it lives hasn’t always been exactly rosy.
- Have I still not been able to distract you from the GOP debate? I mean, at least one woman literally thinks living in 1939 — not high on the list of good times in history — is a better option than the present.
I posted my first story for Hello Giggles today, and it’s one that’s close to my heart in a lot of ways. Agent Carter is a TV show about a woman kicking ass in the 1940s, but it’s also, in its first season, a show about confronting grief. “What Agent Carter Gets Right About Grief” is a personal essay about television that finally presents something I’ve lived with for many years in a realistic way — and makes it the protagonist’s greatest journey.
The second season just premiered last night, but you can stream the first season right now. It’s only eight episodes, and even if you’re not familiar with Captain America, it stands well enough on its own that I can’t recommend it enough.
- Given the seeming avalanche of beloved celebrity deaths over the past week or so, everyone has been trying to understand both public and personal grief. Three very useful links:
- Despite the above, Agent Carter is also a fantastic, heart-clutchingly wonderful technicolor spy noir, with more than a little excellent comedy thrown in. It’s not the only genre show I’m keeping an eye on; thank goodness for io9‘s exhaustive list of what’s to come across the networks.
- If you’re looking for another exhaustive list of excellence, the 2016 National Magazine Award finalists were just announced, and there are links.
- This week saw a conversation in the publishing industry about the value or gatekeeping effects of workshops such as the prestigious six-week Clarion program for sci-fi and fantasy writers. It led to some good conversations about what “makes” a writer, but disability activists have also spoken out forcefully about the privilege baked into the structure of such events. Applicable throughout society, not just the SFF world.
- I loved this Huffington Post video about using shipping crates as portable, sustainable gardens, especially since I also just listened to 99% Invisible‘s “Reefer Madness” episode (it makes sense once you dive in, but trust me, Roman Mars is giggling too).