I Don’t Hate Westerns As Much As I Thought
Hello and welcome back!
I am going to just delve into my thoughts, but before that I just want to state that I have decided to get rid of Sharp Objects off my list for two reasons. One is that it graphically depicts self-harm, which is very hard for me to watch, especially after spending the past two weeks watching murder after murder. The second reason is that the protagonist is an alcoholic and is dealing with several mental health issues, and it seems that her issues are the root cause of her moral ambiguity. I am looking for characters that are morally ambiguous regardless of issues they have. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on these two shows.
I am going to be honest. This is not a typical show that I would watch to say the least. In fact, it deals with two of my least favorite genres: science fiction and westerns. I found myself getting a bit confused with the supernatural elements and also because I wasn’t familiar with Wyatt Earp with the exception of a one-off mention in a Modern Family episode. That being said, I actually enjoyed myself a lot. The protagonist and titular character was all too compelling, and just when I thought I figured her out, she would throw in a twist that was much needed.
Wynonna is the great-granddaughter of famous gunslinger Wyatt Earp, and she has to take on the job of heir to the Earp name after her older sister died when they were younger. Essentially, her whole job is to kill the reincarnated souls called revenants that Wyatt had killed back in his day due to the Earp Curse. As a character, Wynonna is set up to be your typical action girl, who wears tight tops, has snarky remarks, and does dangerous stunts.
However, this trope unravels itself, and we find a complicated, layered woman. She feels tremendous grief and guilt for the loss of her sister and father, the latter of whom she accidentally killed. She also feels a duty to kill the revenants, but as soon as she found the seven that killed her sister and stole her father, she develops a taste for killing and slowly starts to spiral. She has nightmares about the night her life was turned upside down, and she even attempts to kill a man who is human and not revenant.
The biggest moment for me was when she claimed she liked killing, not just for the security it brought her but also for the act itself. It’s clear that Wynonna is morally ambiguous, as she struggles with what is right to do. I would say she is a mixture of someone who has morally ambiguous traits and does morally ambiguous actions. She knows what the right thing to do is most of the time, but sometimes she acts and views events in a morally dubious way.
In a world that is ruled by Heaven and Hell, it feels very easy to box Wynonna in as a hero. The writers could have easily made her the paradigm of female fighters, but instead they chose to explore her dark side and make her someone who makes mistakes and sometimes does questionable things unmistakably. While this show isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, I found Wynonna as a protagonist to be rather refreshing and I recommend this show to anyone who has a remote interest in sci-fi.
How to Get Away With Murder
Holy cow. This show completely exemplified moral ambiguity. Watching it was definitely a task. It has the longest first season with 15 episodes, and it did not disappoint. Viola Davis’s Annalise Keating was by far one of the strongest women I have analyzed. She is also the most ruthless, but I will explain more later. I truly enjoyed this Shondaland show, as it had everything I could’ve wanted. It had murder (obviously), romance, betrayal, and complicated relationships. I REALLY noticed the web of relationships and it definitely stood out to me that you could not trust anyone in this show. It’s truly very masterfully done.
For those who have watched the show, I am sure they can understand how Annalise is morally ambiguous. First, I want to talk about her demeanor. She is very cunning and harsh. She is set up to be the stereotypical cold hearted workaholic who chose her career over a family life. We’ve seen this trope throughout television history, and it was so refreshing to see her emotions explored. We see the facade she puts up trying to be the strong woman she is, but we know it’s a facade because we see her struggling and in pain. She, like a lot of the morally ambiguous characters we’ve looked at, has suffered trauma in her past and also pain in the present, as she figures out her husband is cheating on her with a recently dead university student.
When I was first talking to Amy, my advisor, about morally ambiguous female characters, she mentioned that a lot of them need a cause for the way that they are and it’s easy for writers to chalk that up to one event that happened that affected her significantly. This concept applies here as well, because we see Annalise reveal that the source of her anger and the reason that she is the way that she is is because she was sexually assaulted as a child. I want to point out that we have no idea if this is true, rather it is simply what Annalise is telling us.
That being said, Annalise is incredibly morally ambiguous. She covers up the murder of her husband believing that he killed the university student he had an affair with, even when it’s revealed (to the audience not the characters) that he never actually killed the student directly. She constantly lies and uses people as pawns without thinking twice. She is manipulative and domineering, and yet we know that she is trying her hardest to do the right thing. She is a character who is morally ambiguous innately and has morally ambiguous traits. She knows what is right and what is wrong, but she chooses to act based on necessity and protection.
Overall, I really actually liked both these shows, and more than that I loved their protagonists. Both are intelligent women who refreshingly break the mold that they are set up to fit into. Over the next week, I am going to continue to watch the shows, but I am preparing to slim down my list, simply because I have SIX shows left to watch. I will try to finish the last six shows by this week, and if not then I will watch some next week as I start preparing my character.
Thank you for reading! Until next time!