A Writer's Journey

June 8, 2015

Complicated Women

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

There’s a post that circulates around tumblr. Everyone does a version of it, myself included. It’s about writing women as real people. Here’s mine.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about complicated women. Namely two, from TV. Yes, another TV post. You can learn a lot from it.

First, we’re going back to Once Upon a Time. When I started to watch it, Emma and Ruby were my favorite characters. But then something happened during the second season. Regina started to grow on me. By season three, she was becoming my favorite character.

By season four, I was a full blown Evil Regal.

Why Regina? Lots of reasons, if I think about it. In season 2, Regina is quite the underdog. She’s reviled by the town, her son rejects her and she is framed for murder by her own mother. I love the underdog.

But it’s more than that. She’s been through a lot, especially for a so-called family show. Her mother is emotional abusive and manipulative. She also killed Regina’s first love, Daniel, and forced her into a marriage with the king. It left her vulnerable to the manipulations of the Dark One, who taught her magic. All of this formed her into the Evil Queen, bent on revenge to the point she curses everyone to live in Maine.

Stephen King would be proud.

Regina then adopted Henry as a baby, raising him until he started to clue into the fact that things weren’t exactly normal in Storybrooke. He learned he was adopted and sought out his birth mother, which starts the series proper because she happens to be the one person who can undo Regina’s villainous work. Regina was in full villain mode in season one, trying to preserve the life she built for herself. In the end, she loses it as Emma breaks the curse.

Which brings us to Season 2, where she is the underdog. It’s also the start of her redemption arc. She is willing to sacrifice herself to save the town, even after two days of being tortured. Luckily, it didn’t come to that. But then her son was kidnapped and she had to go to Neverland to save him.

lana Lana Parrilla, who plays Regina.

I’ll pause here for now and switch shows. Let’s go to Smash. I believe I’ve ranted about it before, but here’s a refresher: Smash tells the story of how a Broadway musical comes to be (sorta). The second season of the show corresponded with Once’s. In this season, I started to drift away from supporting Karen and found myself more of an Ivy fan. At the time, I figured it was because she had swapped places with Karen—in season 1, Karen was the underdog and now in season 2, Ivy was.

At the start of the season, Ivy was still only in Bombshell’s ensemble and she gets let go in the premiere at Karen’s request. Ivy is then off auditioning again but is still haunted by some of her actions in Season 1. Until she manages to snag an audition for a big role in a revival of a musical version of Les Liaisons Dangeroux. Then her career seems to self-correct, even if the production is a train wreck. She’s the bright spot and everyone is talking about her in a positive way again.

Derek ends up resigning as the director of Bombshell in order to direct Hit List. Karen follows him. Tom becomes the new director of Bombshell and is able to get Ivy back as Marilyn. She and Derek even resume their relationship. All seems to be going well.

There are still some hiccups for her. Her mother, who she has a problematic relationship with, is cast in Bombshell as Marilyn’s mother. She also clashes with Tom now that he’s the director. Ivy even ends up cooling her relationship with Derek, afraid he’s still got feelings for Karen. Then she ends up pregnant. Since the series ended this season, I can tell you Ivy’s ending. She won the Tony Award for her portrayal of Marilyn, seemed to be in a better place with her mother and reconciled with Derek, telling him of their baby (though off screen).

hilty Megan Hilty, who played Ivy.

I didn’t make the connection until this year. You see, part of me wishes they hadn’t made Zelena (Rebecca Mader) Regina’s sister. Mostly because I see a resemblance between Lana and Megan. I would’ve loved for Once to have snagged Megan and made her Regina’s sister. One who may have had a better life than Regina, free from Cora’s influence. Someone who could be both an ally yet a hindrance to Regina’s redemption.

Then I realized Ivy and Regina were a lot alike. So I wondered if I also wanted Ivy and Regina to meet. Which then led me to realize I started to like the two women at the same time. So I decided to think about it more. And I came to a conclusion: I started to like the complicated characters more than the black and white ones.

I like the characters with a bit of edge. The ones who may not be so likeable at first. But who have layers of sadness under those rough edges. I like to learn more about why they are the way they are. (Both Regina and Ivy go back to their mothers). They draw me in and refuse to let me go.

Not that I want them to. Even two years after Smash had ended, I’m still fascinated by Ivy. To the point that sometimes when I think about the third season the show never had, I wonder if the pregnancy storyline was introduced to usher Hilty out so the show could just focus on Karen. Once is still on, so there are more facets about Regina to learn about.

I can’t wait.

And I want to study what makes them compelling in hopes to making my characters better. To make complex characters as well.

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1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on momentarylapseofsanity.

    Comment by facetioussoup — June 8, 2015 @ 12:39 am | Reply


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