Another Reason Women Are Needed in Writers Rooms

Warning: this post contains spoilers for Netflix’s Living With Yourself, and is discussing the cliffhanger moment of the season. 

I like Paul Rudd. From my first exposure to him as Mike Hannigen (#FriendsFanForLife), to his classic comedy roles, and his surprise superhero turn in Ant Man, Paul Rudd never disappoints me. I was very excited when I heard Netflix was making a show starring Paul Rudd, and that he was playing two characters.

So before I dive into my critiques, let me just state: I really liked this show. I thought it was smart, clever, funny, charming. I thought how it was structured was really interesting and engaging. I had no problem binging this show. I think there is a lot to dig into about the commentary on depression and relationships and purpose and happiness. I could write multiple blog posts diving into the themes of this show. This show hooked me and sold me.

Until the last five minutes.

Let me explain.

It is my understanding that the shows timeline works something like this:
-The day Miles goes to have himself unknowingly cloned is the same day that his wife Kate gets her period (which is an emotional moment for her because she is trying to get pregnant).
-Miles hides that he has a clone from Kate for about a week. Miles and Kate have intercourse during this time.
-A few days pass where Miles, Clone Miles, and Kate interact but are not sure what to do.
-Kate goes to a conference for 5 days, and Clone Miles joins her for part of it. Clone Miles and Kate have intercourse during this time.
-The day Kate gets back from her conference she discovers she is pregnant.
-All of this takes place in roughly two-three weeks.

The cliffhanger of the season is that Kate announces to both of the Miles’ that she is pregnant and does not know who the father is.

Do you see my problem yet?

For those that don’t let me explain a few things about biology. Most likely you have heard that women have periods roughly once a month. This is called menstruation. But women have a whole menstrual cycle. This cycle has two major milestones: menstruation and ovulation. Menstruation is when women are bleeding, and ovulation is when women can get pregnant.

Pre-Ovulation can last for up to two weeks. Ovulation lasts for a few days, and during this time you are most likely to get pregnant. Peak ovulation is roughly 2-4 days. Semen can also live outside the body for up to five days. So if you are having unprotected sex, anytime during your pre-ovulation to ovulation window you run the chance of getting pregnant, but peak ovulation is when you are most likely to get pregnant.

Once pregnant, it can take a couple of weeks before pregnancy is detectable. Most women don’t realize they are pregnant for roughly 4 weeks. But even women who are trying to get pregnant and are testing regularly need to be pregnant for at least a week before it is detectable.

So now are you seeing my issue here?

While it is possible that Kate is pregnant, the chances that she would know that yet are incredibly unlikely. The timeline logistics for this cliffhanger make absolutely no sense.

And had a woman been in the writers room when this plot was being formed she would have known that straight away.

Again, I enjoyed this show. But a glaring plot issue like this is enough to throw me out of it. Especially when a glaring plot issue like this is also a major indicator that women were not involved enough in the conception of this show. A major misunderstanding of female biology has lead to a plot hole. A major under valuing of women has lead to a plot hole.

For me, this isn’t just a “Oh haha what a silly mistake”. This is a case and point that men don’t understand the lives of women, and aren’t willing to engage or consult women to get it right. When women are involved in the writing and development of stories, the stories portray women more accurately and more authentically. When women are not involved, the story comes across as lazy.

 

-Darci

Captain Marvel’s True Villain

Warning: All the spoilers! 

“I have nothing to prove to you”.

That was the moment that Captain Marvel may have become my favorite super hero.
Captain Marvel is a story about a woman named Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) who has amnesia. She is a noble warrior hero for the Kree, and during a mission she finds herself on Earth. As she attempts to finish her mission and reunite with her crew, she discovers the truth about her past and her current circumstance.
Her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) has been training her to be her “best” self, claiming that she must learn to control her emotions and learn to fight without her powers, otherwise the “Supreme Intelligence” will punish her.
Once on earth she learns that she received her powers during an attempt to prevent Yon-Rogg from stealing powerful technology, and that the Kree have been trying to suppress her powers ever since. Yon-Rogg has been controlling her, wanting her to stay under his power, and does so by making her question her reality and her gifts. He has her convinced that her powers are her weakness, and that if she uses her powers she will be punished.
And to anyone who has been mentally abused, this story hits a note that we can all relate to.
There are many things I enjoyed about Captain Marvel. I loved how confident and sassy Carol was. I love that the central love story was between two best friends, and that there wasn’t a trace of romance in the movie. I loved watching an alpha male (Fury) immediately trust and defer to a woman. I loved the climactic battle staged to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”. And I loved that the true villain of the story was gaslighting.
Abuse is more than just a physical form. Many abusers use mental techniques to overpower their partners, such as gaslighting. The abuser will consistently manipulate their victim into questioning their own sanity, their own reality. And this device is extremely prevalent within the relationship between Carol and Yon-Rogg.
At the beginning of the film, we learn that Carol, known as Vers at this point, has a device implanted to her head. Yon-Rogg claims the device is giving her the powers that she has, but if she cannot learn to fight without those powers the “Supreme Intelligence” will take those powers away from her. As they train he continues to tell her that she is not strong because she cannot beat him without her powers. That her emotions are making her weak, that her desire to know about the past she has forgotten are distracting her from fulfilling her full potential.
But here is the real kicker: that device implanted on her head is actually suppressing her powers. Yon-Rogg, the Kree, the Supreme Intelligence, none of them had anything to do with giving her those powers, and have everything to do with trying to keep her from discovering them.
This is a common occurrence in mental abuse. Abusers tell their victims, “you will never be good enough” or “you are nothing without me”. Gaslighting is done to trick victims into believing they are weak and worthless, which makes the moment when Carol reclaims her power and freedom in full force a very cathartic moment.
After Carol has defeated the Kree and the battle is over, she faces Yon-Rogg one last time. And he falls back on his old tricks. He is counting on his conditioning to kick in and for her to submit to him. He demands she faces him without her powers and prove that she really is stronger than him. And she blasts him down without skipping a beat. “I have nothing to prove to you” and drags him away. No grand speeches, no huge statements. And my eyes filled with tears.
How often have women been told throughout our lives to get a grip on our emotions? How many women have been told to not act upset when they were wronged? How many women have been called “crazy” for having emotions? For centuries, the perceived unreliability of women’s emotions kept us from owning property, voting, promotions, fair wages, or having basic control of our lives. And we have internalized all of this. We believe we aren’t strong, we aren’t worthy, we aren’t good enough. We have all experienced gaslighting.
Watching Captain Marvel claim her freedom, watching her face her true enemy with a calm confidence,  was such a cathartic experience for me. She saved herself, she embraced every part of herself that she was told to suppress, and she broke free from her mental prison.
-Darci