I am going to reference Katie Nelson’s blog post about women on television. She argued that characters like Olivia Pope and Ally McBeal are successful in the workplace and not in their loves lives. They are strong women, but cannot be successful in both areas. What does this mean about the portrayal of women on television. Why can’t we be good at both? Why can’t we have a family and have a career? Men do it! Or at least, that is what society tells us.
In this blog post I want to extend Katie’s argument with the introduction of another show and another character that proves her point. One show that I have been newly obsessed with is Quantico. Quantico is about Alex, an FBI trainee turned agent who is at the heart of a terrorist attack. Through present shots as well as flashbacks viewers see the journey of finding the internal terrorist behind the bombing of grand central.
Now Alex, like Olivia Pope, is excellent at being an FBI agent. While she gets caught up in the terrorist mess, and is accused of being a terrorist herself, she seems to be the only one that questions what is going on. She is dedicated to finding the truth and her abilities as an agent are proved over and over again. Her love life? Not so much. It seems that if every relationship she establishes somehow gets in the way of her duties as an agent. Her lover, Ryan, her friends, Shelby, Simon, and Caleb, and even her mentor Liam.
Now what does this say about the portrayal of women on television? It brings me back to I Love Lucy the 1950’s domestic ideal. Alex seems to be a modern day anti housewife to an extent. She is successful in her career, but not in her personal life. She cannot have it all and has to choose. Meanwhile, Ryan her lover, seems to be able to deal with his personal relationships and career flawlessly with no consequences. While Alex is the protagonist of the show, it seems like her flaws reflect those of the anti domestic ideal of the 1950s.
Another thing I would like to point out here is the inequality of the dress of the women in the show. Has anyone noticed that the women recruits outfits are low-cut, while the men have higher necklines? Or the fact that Alex is always wearing something that shows off her figure in a sexualized way? For me this just further emphasizes the fact that women are sexualized on television.