So I mentioned in my last post that I have been binge-watching Bones. If you are unfamiliar with the term “binge-watching,” it simply means watching a TV show (or set of movies) in quick succession, from start to finish, as often as possible. People who do this often discover a show that has already finished airing, or at least has a good amount of episodes already aired. You could watch on Netflix or download episodes to your computer. You could even buy DVD sets if that’s what you want to spend your money on.
Now that definitions are out of the way, let’s get to the point: I have noticed a rather delightful phenomenon that occurs when I have been watching a certain show for several months. I start to emulate the mannerisms, tone of voice, and thinking processes of my favorite characters. Now, this phenomenon in general might not always be a good thing, but I have found that my favorite characters always end up being wonderful role models. These are not usually the characters I identify closest with personally, but the characters I admire most. I see qualities in them that I wish I saw in myself. They are brave, intelligent, and revered as the best in their field. They are also imperfect and human.
1. Buffy Summers (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
Buffy didn’t choose her role as The Slayer at the young age of fifteen. It was thrust upon her by fate and mysterious forces that she wasn’t even expected to understand. For the first few years, she struggled with her humanity and what it means to be the savior of a world that seems to have evil at every corner. But as she grew into her strength and learned more about her legacy and place in the world, she was able to rise to astounding heights of bravery and self-sacrifice. With the help of her friends, she did more than the ancient men who created the Slayer line could have ever thought possible. She saved the world countless times.
Buffy was not perfect. She may have had supernatural physical strength, but she made stupid decisions, doubted herself, misjudged people, and many times, just didn’t know what to do. Sometimes, she was just plain airheaded. But all of these faults co-existed with her determination to do the right thing and protect the people she loved. She was a multi-dimensional character that any girl could relate to, or at least look up to. At least that’s how I feel. When I was binge-watching BTVS, I noticed I became sillier, snarkier, and more assertive. In a good way. Also, Buffy might have the best one-liners out of any character I’ve ever seen and I love it.
2. Colonel Samantha Carter (Stargate SG:1 and Stargate: Atlantis)
Ah, Sam, you will always have a special place in my heart. I grew up watching Stargate with my family, but when I started watching SG1 on DVD with Kurt, I realized that I didn’t recognize any of the episodes or characters, at least not at first. Maybe my family was watching Atlantis. Either way, I very quickly found a kindred spirit in Major Sam Carter, who would be promoted to Colonel by the end of the series. She is unbelievably smart, resourceful, level-headed, and professional. Military officers, scientists, and students of both revere her as the best astrophysicist in the country, if not the world. Whenever a character mentions how widely known and respected she is, I always swell up with pride, like, “That’s my Sam! She’s so awesome!”
Amazing as she is, Sam is still human. But that is what makes her so admirable. She isn’t perfect, therefore, little girls around the world can more easily look up to her as a role model. She is, for the most part, more rational than the average woman, or least what the mainstream media would have you believe is the average woman. But she still has her moments of weakness. She still struggles with what is ethical and what is the lesser of two evils in trying situations. She reacts to emotional situations just like any healthy human, even if sometimes she bottles it up. But then, in the military, there are some things you just can’t talk about. Like your passionate love for your commanding officer. So we’ll give her that. When I’ve been watching Sam often, I find that I am more optimistic and better at problem-solving. Always great things!
3. Dr. Temperance Brennan (Bones)
Did you know that the character of Dr. Brennan is based on a real person, Kathy Reichs? Reichs is a forensic anthropologist and author of a series of books starring forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan. TV Brennanis not based on the Brennan in Reichs’ books, but on Reichs herself. On the show, Brennan is the author of a series of books starring forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs. The real Reichs is also a producer on Bones, insuring that all of the science is accurate. Nothing bugs me more than a story that takes real life science and riddles it with accuracy errors.
Anyway, Temperance “Bones” Brennan is a very different kind of character from Samantha Carter or Buffy Summers, or any other character I’ve admired before. Not only is she very intelligent, highly-educated, and very brave, she is also extremely socially awkward. Sam can be awkward at times, but not to the point where her awkwardness is a major source of humor in her show. Temperance, once completely unable to comprehend humor, especially based in pop culture, eventually learns to recognize sarcasm, hyperbole, and metaphor, and enjoys joking with her colleagues. I love that she grows. We learn that her coldness comes from the abandonment issues she gained from her parents’ disappearance when she was fifteen. She learns to trust others and open up her heart by working closely with Special Agent Seely Booth to solve murder cases. Booth is her polar opposite in many ways, notably his religious faith and sentimentality. Bones is strictly an empiricist, but eventually gives up trying to argue philosophy with Booth and ends up respecting and accepting what he believes because she cares for him and sees how important it is to him.
I love Brennan as a character because she is not just an archetype of the “nerdy girl.” She is beautiful, and she knows it, but not in a way that makes her conceited. She is highly sought after, both by aspiring scientists who want to work with her and by men who want to date her. She is shown to have interests other than her work, yet is still very passionate about her field. She often takes things very literally and is unsure of how to respond to others’ emotions, yet still has a healthy emotive response to situations in her own life. She is at the top of her field and sees no reason to downplay her intelligence and esteem. She is awesome.
Kurt has said that since starting Bones, and especially immediately after finishing an episode, I have been calmer, more logical, and more rational, which are all things I could really work on. I truly want to be Dr. Temperance Brennan when I grow up. Even before I thought of being a writer, I thought of going to school to study forensics. Maybe it was all those crime shows I watched growing up. If I am ever given a million dollars, I am going back to school to be just like Bones.
Who is your favorite TV character? Are they a good role model for you?