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December 4th, 2014 (06:13 pm)

December 4 - Vanessa Ives -- [personal profile] d_generate_girl

Oh, God, I am so unprepared to write this post; work kind of beat me senseless today. Still, in the interest of keeping up with the meme, and with the understanding that I am promising a rain check for full-on meta:

Vanessa Ives, for those of you who are just joining us, is the central character of Showtime's Penny Dreadful: she's a young Victorian woman (and note that I don't use the term "lady"; she was definitely brought up in that class and still enjoys a few of its privileges, but has proceeded to kick about 90% of the behavioral norms in the teeth) with a very peculiar relationship to the spirit world.

... actually, she's more or less a witch in the old-school, Malleus Maleficarum, Salem Village sense. And she's really, really peculiar about her long-lost childhood friend (whose name sort of happens to be Mina).

Throughout the course of eight episodes, she proves herself to be almost unremittingly selfish, obsessive, secretive, hypocritical, destructive, self-destructive, and willing to tolerate really profound human evil as a means to an end.

I love her like pie. (And she does have good points.)

(I do not really have the energy at this time to start talking about media representations of female characters, but I'm just going to say that I adore this show for letting Vanessa just be Vanessa, and for actively undercutting any suggestion that she might be headed for a redemption arc, and that is all.)

What I adore about Vanessa, specifically, is that despite Penny Dreadful being sort of, um, heightened in its characterization, and despite her tendency to have, at most, the toe of one boot in this world, she feels real and unstereotyped in a way that very few fictional characters, and even fewer fictional women, tend to. The scenes of her as a child are extremely vivid and off-kilter and honest about... not about Childhood, but about the childhood of one pubescent girl in a specific context of time and place and relationships and interiority (and, incidentally, PROPS to the tiny actress who plays her, who is amazingly creepy and subtle and delightful). Which, really, is the whole point; she's not filling a plot-required position, she's not being created by her narrative, she creates it, through very specific choices made for very specific, complicated, kind of fucked-up kind of reasons.

Her choices create the space in which the entire story happens. It's kind of amazing.

Or I could just link you to Drea's vid, which says way more than I do, way more elegantly.

This entry was originally posted at http://thatyourefuse.dreamwidth.org/494270.html. Please comment there if you can.