1. Marscaleb

    Marscaleb Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2014
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    16

    Women: What are some good movies/shows for portraying women?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Marscaleb, Jul 1, 2020.

    I was talking with someone about - well, something else - and it occurred to me how well this also relates to writing.
    I'd like to be able to write more realistic women characters; characters that women can relate to better.
    Too much of what us men write tends to portray women more as some sort of ideal that men want from their women, or as some flat and shallow stereotype, or worse yet: as what is really a masculine character just acted by a woman.

    So I was talking with someone who described how people can really learn a lot about other cultures by watching movies from that culture; that there are subtle nuances that we can start to subconsciously pick up on, and over time we learn and shape ourselves to that culture. And part of the problem is that we do that with our own culture too; we shape our understanding of various archetypes and classes of people in our real world based on works of fiction, especially as we have more interaction with this fiction than with those real-life counterparts.

    So the point is: I could learn more about realistic female characters if I shifted my media diet to include more shows/movies that depict women in a more realistic light, rather than as vessels to fulfill a story written for men.

    So I would like to ask all the women here: what are some movies/shows that do a good job of portraying women in a more realistic light? Or what are some movies/shows that you feel you make a stronger connection with? Or failing all that, what are some good "chick flicks" that I normally don't care to watch but would probably give a good range of believable women characters that don't just boil down to common stereotypes and archetypes?
     
  2. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2020
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    211
    ...At the risk of being offensive, please don't watch chick flicks. The women in those films are some of the most shallow creatures ever. Granted, they might be somewhat realistic, given the number of times I have been dragged to them and people seem to enjoy them... Nah, there's a fantasy/escapist element in chick flicks. It's the equivalent of watching Arnold Schwartzenegger movies to research men. Given how PC western media can be these days, I recommend watching foreign films that are not held up to the same uptight standards. Barring that, films made before 2005ish.

    What particular situation will you be writing women in? If it's a particularly devastating situation, you might want to check out The Gulag Archipelago and its section on women. Despite being a cartoon, Azumanga Daioh portrays high school girls pretty well, especially since none of the girls ever get into relationships. If you're really insistent on the chick flick thing, try Little Black Book. It's stomachable, but really only accurately portrays a particular subset of women. Also, Project Runway was really fascinating in terms of psychology, but that might just be me, lol. Actually, now that I think about it, reality shows might help you more than fiction. Might. You know they like dramatic people.

    I dunno. I think your best bet is to just talk to actual, real women about particular things that have to do with your manuscript. That, and reading nonfiction books about things that have to do with women -- not "women's books", because those tend to talk about what the author thinks rather than how we really are. Read actual biographies of women. Heck, talk to women here. What specific story do you have in mind?
     
    Xoic likes this.
  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    3,179
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    Think about women you've known—relatives, friends, co-workers, girlfriends, etc. Observe them in their natural habitat (this must be done very carefully or can end in an ass-kicking by multiple men or jail time). Keep in mind that some women are very masculine and some are more feminine (and the same is true about men)—and in very different ways. Some women can be masculine by being physically strong and on the wrestling team, some by being aggressive, some by being emotionally strong and resilient. Some worry about breaking a nail, some bite their nails and like to hit a punching bag.

    Maybe rather than watching movies, try to see something more real (like the reality shows @GraceLikePain mentioned, though those can be fake or heavily manipulated). Maybe watch interviews, for instance how Jennifer Lawrence acts in an interview compared to say Kristen Stewart, or Gal Gadot compared to Brie Larson, maybe Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  4. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,552
    Likes Received:
    3,889
    One of the strongest women I've ever seen portrayed on tv or in a movie is Ellen Ripley of the Alien franchise. She's intelligent, direct, and can fight off the Xenomorph queen like a boss.

    Another strong set of female characters is the best friend pair of Beth Latimer and Ellie Miller of Broadchurch. Tragedy between the two families should rip them apart but they grow stronger and each of them is the strength for the other at some point.

    I can probably think of a few others, but those are the ones off the top of my head.
     
    The_Joker, marshipan, EFMingo and 3 others like this.
  5. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    3,179
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    The interesting thing about Ripley, the part was written originally for, was it Paul Newman? I think so. Or Steve McQueen? But he ended up not being available and they went with Sigourney instead, with no changes to the script.

    I particularly like the portrayal of female characters in the Netflix series Jessica Jones. They're all strong in very different ways, with character flaws and issues that they deal with each in their own way. The show was created by a woman (from a comic book that I think was written by a man, but with a strong feminist slant) and all the directors were women. Maybe all the writers as well? Not sure on that one.
     
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin We may just go where no-one's been.... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,265
    Likes Received:
    12,389
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    I guess Beaches, Steel Magnolias, and Thelma and Louise are probably out.
     
    Some Guy likes this.
  7. Malisky

    Malisky Sirocco Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    Messages:
    2,193
    Likes Received:
    4,017
    Location:
    The Middle of Nowhere The Center of Everywhere
    In some cultures, for example in the generalized idea of the westernised world, women are considered (nowadays) more equal to men (in the sense of qualities and rights) so I believe that there is not a crystal clear distinction apart from the physical as to how they think or interact in comparison to men, meaning that in general, both sexes overall share the same needs and react upon them. In other cultures though, these needs differ, due to more strict rules over each of the sexes expected roles into society, making a gap between their mannerisms, which I believe is the outcome of the different expectations that accompany each sex, be it man or woman.

    So, to put it short, where has your female character grown up? With what morals and what influences? She might be the odd one out even in her country though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  8. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2020
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    211
    Actually, coming back, now that I think about it, you should read books about children. Like, raising kids, the psychology of kids, that sort of thing. Why? Because they're the only books nowadays that willingly admit that there is an inherent difference between men and women -- they have to, because boys and girls behave with general differences. Like for example how men go through a chemical process that separates both halves of the brain. You know that left brain- logical, right brain- artistic thing? That's a male characteristic. When women do either of these types of activities, both sides of the brain light up equally. Likewise, when boys get into fights as kids, they can actually become closer friends. When girls get in physical altercations, it generally means the permanent end of the friendship. Women are also more risk-averse, have finer motor skills, and are better at recognizing other people's emotions.

    Taking Sex Differences Seriously is a good book to try. Hang around the parenting section. 'S helpful.
     
    The_Joker and Xoic like this.
  9. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    3,179
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    Very intriguing, I did not know this.

    9 Differences Between the Male and Female Brain
     
  10. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2017
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    672
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The Good Fight, tv series, has a great range of interesting female characters.
     
  11. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2017
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    672
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    If you've already got this all figured out, why do you need more material?
     
  12. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2020
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    211
    ??? I didn't post this thread.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  13. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2017
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    672
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Sorry, my mistake.
    You're advising the poster who asked for cinematic depictions of realistic women to read books about child psychology? I suppose it can't hurt.
     
  14. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2018
    Messages:
    6,613
    Likes Received:
    9,980
    Location:
    The kingdom of scrambled portmanteaus
    Before any recommendations, let me ask what situation your female characters are in? Not specifically per character, but relevant to the parts of the story. Is it a crisis, a tragedy, a day in the life? If a fictional character is female, what part of the story does she specifically contribute to?
    I do not ever want you to question why you want a female character, just remember:
    There are females (those you don't know), but there aren't any women - there is The Woman. The woman you are looking at or talking to or dreaming of. The woman who gives the orders, or takes them, or designs the process.
    If you're a male, remember that only females can put themselves in groups they call women. They are evolved to create communities. Men are evolved to create groups, or generalize them. The average woman had better not exist, or we haven't been paying attention.
    If you're going to create a female character, figure out the vibe the character gives, then go look for an example. Just know that you may find a male in a movie who sparks that same vibe that your female can have. I have a female Master Chief modeled after a male marine Sargent.
    If movies are your research, you'll have a lot to watch, so include documentaries for perspective.
    Now to specific movies/actors.

    Sissy Spacek - The River
    I agree about Sigourney Weaver (in most everything)
    Twister (figure it out)
    The Day after Tomorrow
    Fifty First Dates
    Geena Davis (everything)
    The Rookie
    Phenomenon
    (I'll think of others)
     
    Xoic likes this.
  15. Proficere

    Proficere Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2020
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    40
    Edit: AHAH- TLDR, research what it is you're trying to relate! So much time wasted... XD

    Lots of women experience the same hardships as men, it just might have just happened/was handled differently. Example: Trauma, financial loss, heartbreak, etc. Keep in mind the outside factors that could also influence them (women's rights, racism, objectification in the workplace, sexism, etc).
    I think this is still too vague of a question. I wouldn't know any movies but I would say being relatable is too subjective. What book are you writing? Who is the target audience? Is it just 'all women' in general, or is it supposed to appeal to a preteen dreaming about her sparkling vampire? What is the woman's role in the story? How do the other characters/society interact with her?

    To some readers, they see being an irresistible piece of eye candy as empowering and confident. For others, the relationship/appreciation of a character can be based on how they handle hardship.

    One of the things I personally pick at is consistency. I wouldn't expect the bubbly, blonde airhead stereotype (that also sleeps with the all-male cast) to be able to deliberately decipher some terrorist code on the spot. If, however, someone who was extremely, sexually active decided to chime in and show her wisdom for a spell, it can create genuine intrigue and a newfound respect for the character.

    I'm an oddball that doesn't really care what the female does. I focus on things like morals and conflict resolution, regardless of gender. Are they worried about their sex life or becoming the next hot thing on instagram? Yawn. Are they confident being themselves during a time where it is still unacceptable? Did they crack under the pressure, or did the find another way?

    Inconsistency/delivery could be the fault of the writer- but it might also be shedding light that the character isn't always what they seem, and I don't generally like deception without good reason. Pretty much disliked all female witches from the Witcher series because no one could stop plotting/backstabbing each other over the dude. Buuuut a lot of other men would clearly say otherwise. Some people like being fought over. It's one thing to encounter conflict that others bring upon you, but as a female reader, I hate reading about any character that is self-destructive/so emotional that they drag themselves deeper into conflict. Just feels like a chore, and even then, I might not get that satisfaction of them having an epiphany of how blind and dumb they were.

    As already mentioned, I would say to look up documentaries based on what kind of genre you plan to write. Is it some teen drama? Look up documentaries or articles revolving around mental health and things that kids generally require around that age. Adventure story? Kids generally tend to have this sense of invincibility. Maybe some girl is trying to keep some dude on the ground? Maybe it's the dude trying to pull the girl out of a dangerous fantasy?

    I think what I'm trying to get at, is just add depth to them. Like... what are you doing for the males that you can't do for the females? Are you not giving them a background? Any indication as to why they are the way they are, or what they're about to become? Were they treated as an equal all their life or were they subjected to all kinds of things based on the gender they were born with?

    There are so many individual personalities that can be summed into cliches so I don't know what exact answer you're looking for, really. Sorry for the messy reply. I might just need some sleep.
     
  16. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    3,179
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
     
  17. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,778
    Likes Received:
    18,612
    Location:
    Scotland
    The one that immediately popped into my head was Last Holiday, starring Queen Latifah (one hell of an actress.) The movie's premise is fairly shallow, and all the other performances vary in quality. But she portrays a very believable woman, and it's a joy to watch.
     
    Dogberry's Watch likes this.
  18. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2017
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    672
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    That was a good movie.
    and predictable and not at all new, but she lifted it way up out of the ordinary. Fantastic stage presence.
    Actually, it reminds me of an older movie, with Angela Lansbury
    There, the supporting cast was exceptional; she didn't have to carry it alone. Still, another formidable female personality. Perhaps that presence comes with time and experience: I don't really notice any young women.
    I've had a crush on Sigourney Weaver
    since forever - not least because of her versatility: she's charming in comedy as well as credible in drama - and holds the viewer's attention even when she's not center stage.
     
    jannert likes this.
  19. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2020
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    211
    ....So I'm the only one who doesn't like Last Holiday?

    I don't remember if Queen Latifah's performance was particularly good, because I was so distracted by the terrible doctor character.
     
    EFMingo and jannert like this.
  20. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,778
    Likes Received:
    18,612
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yeah, he was bad. But he wasn't around all that much. She was fantastic. And she seemed very 'realistic' which is why I nominated this movie for the thread's OP.
     
  21. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    15,156
    Likes Received:
    29,972
    Location:
    Seat 29e, Air Gradia 452
    Hmm, how about American Beauty? True, all the characters are broken, but the film does a good job of showing just why and how they're broken. Allison Janney's character reminds me of one of my relatives on her bad days.
     
    EFMingo likes this.
  22. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    76
    Location:
    North Carolina
    This particular woman is fictional, but always one I thought was a strong female lead in a tv show, without being overbearing or unrealistic, Katheryn Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager. Given the writers came out with episodes that were of questionable quality, but I always thought Kate Mulgrew pulled off a really good portrayal of a leading woman. She was a strong and capable leader, yet at times you saw that she was uncertain and questioned her decisions like anyone else would. Every now and then you even got a peek at the woman behind the rank pips. Also a decent series if you like science fiction.
     
  23. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2017
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    672
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Agreed. They even worked in some intelligent humour and believable relationships. (Except Neelix. Nobody could believe him!)
    For complexity and character, DS9 is even better. Kira and Cassidy are worth noticing.
     
    Some Guy likes this.
  24. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,250
    Likes Received:
    3,625
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    How about 500 Days of Summer? Though the story is in a male perspective, all the characters are extraordinarily close to real looking and feeling people. Since this is about realistic women, I'll focus on Summer particularly. She is conflicted and often contradictory, but her behaviors below the surface maintain. She has many faults, and I think is a particularly awful person with an exterior of someone lovable. And I think what makes her particularly real is the roundness of her character as time progresses. She gets over a lot of her early faults, though the damage of getting their is left for others to struggle with. She is her own person, like her or not.
     
    Xoic likes this.
  25. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    155
    Phoebe Waller-Bridge is fantastic for this - Daniel Craig actually asked for her to consult on the Bond script to make Bond girls less, well, Bond girly.

    I'd say watch Eve in the first season of Killing Eve (or any of the characters for that matter), as I was watching it it just really struck me how real Eve felt compared to things I'm used to watching .

    Her show Fleabag is really good too.

    And as others have said, think about women you actually know, without the filter of pop culture only showing you certain aspects of them
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice