What have been your favourite empowering storylines?
Stories can give excitement, but so often they can also provide hope. Here are just ten of some of the most empowering storylines from TV.
1) Gohan’s hidden powers (Dragon Ball Z)
How rare it is for a child to become the hero, while all the adults look on weakly. What was superb about Gohan’s storyline was that he never wanted to fight. While the adults raced to beat each other up, Gohan always wanted peace. His power only exploded when other people were being hurt and he could only fight to stop their pain. Gohan was the antithesis of Cell who only ever wanted to cause destruction, yet had never been raised to be a hero like the reluctant half-Saiyan. Gohan showed true power lies in love, and that gentleness deserves respect while aggression should not be idolised. For an anime based around fighting, he was a radical young warrior.
2) Rebecca finally realising her feelings for Greg (Crazy Ex Girlfriend)
Rebecca had treated Greg appallingly as she pined after Josh who never really cared about her. Finally, she cut the crap and started to realise that people who support you in life are far more important than chasing after people who aren’t worthy of respect in the first place.
3) Greg then leaving Rebecca (Crazy Ex Girlfriend)
Okay, so I’m glad Rebecca finally woke up but Greg could do better. Throughout the series, Rebecca had been horrible to him. She’d ignored his existence, used him when she couldn’t have Josh and then cheated on Greg when Josh finally paid her some attention. It was awful, toxic behaviour. It was positive that Rebecca started to see the value in someone supporting her, but it was even more of a relief when Greg left. They both could do better than that relationship. Sometimes acknowledging love but choosing to move on is the best course.
4) Clarke rejecting Finn even though she loved him (The 100)
Clarke is one of the best representations of bisexuality and biromanticism around. She’s a fantastic protagonist and she showed that with how she rejected Finn after he’d lied about having a girlfriend (he thought Raven was dead but, still, it’s a horrible thing to do). Clarke loved him but she deserved better and she knew it. She wasn’t hanging around for any guy to mess her about. It was a refreshing and revolutionary moment in a world where TV just loves having girls swoon for mediocre men.
5) Kelly defending her past relationship (Black Mirror)
Another great bi character was Kelly, but what was empowering was the way in which Kelly defended her past loves. So often when bi characters get with someone of the same gender, their past history is erased. Kelly shouted her bi identity proudly. She loved Yorkie, but her past relationship with a man she loved would not be erased.
6) Phoebe breaking up with the cop because he shot a bird (Friends)
Morals before men, particularly men who shoot birds just because they aren’t morning people. So many of the relationships on Friends were trash so it wasn’t a break up anyone was going to mourn, but Phoebe did it for the right reasons and stuck by her beliefs.
7) Eleanor Guthrie running the show (Black Sails)
Arguably, it would have been better for Eleanor to just leave the island with Max and have a beautiful happy queer relationship as they sailed off into the sunset. However, Eleanor chose power, and she ended up being the one on the island everyone either feared or hated. She ran the show, and in a world of pirates that is an amazing achievement.
8) When Kate left the island (Lost)
Jack was dying anyway but it was his last wish that the island should be protected. Kate didn’t even offer to be the one to help him save it though. She wanted off that damn island and to sort things out with her (sort of kidnapped) family. Jack had put her through crap for that island and it was heartbreaking that Jack would die for it, but finally Kate got to decide her own fate. She lost the love of her life, but his fate was already sealed, and she got to finally make her own decision about whether to be on the island, and what her story would be like beyond either Jack or Sawyer.
9) Strand saving his friends (Fear The Walking Dead)
Strand was grieving, Travis jepordised their entire safety and Strand was always someone who put his own interests first. He couldn’t let his friends die though so he sacrificed his own place within the confines of the hotel. What’s more, he didn’t even go with the others. He was on his own path but he wanted to help his friends out where he could. It was the least selfish act to have happened in that show.
10) Sophia explains anatomy to inmates (Orange is The New Black)
This was a small but empowering moment for so many reasons. Bio-essentailists love to go on about female-assigned anatomy but here was a trans women explaining the basics to a load of oblivious cis women who desperately needed her help. It was a moment of solidarity between the inmates but it also highlighted how crap sex education often is, and how exclusion and binary it can be. By adulthood, everyone should be able to know and understand their own bodies. Sophia fought back against a society that just loves to silence any talk about vulvas and vaginas.
What have been some of the scenes in television that have gotten you cheering? Share your favourite empowering TV moments in the comments below!