I discovered the TV show “Justified” about a week and a half ago, and I suppose you can say I’m obsessed. It’s a modern day western about Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, Clint Eastwood style gunslinger with a cowboy hat and holster stationed in present day Kentucky. It hasn’t just moved to the top of my “best cop shows” list, it’s vaulted leaps and bounds over the nearest contender, and continues to gain ground. It’s now my third favorite show behind “Sherlock” and “Firefly”.
I had never heard of it before despite the fact that it’s going into its fifth season, and I have a theory why: I’m one and a half seasons in, and so far there are very few strong wymyn characters.
We have Ava Crowder, a woman who on first glance should fit. She shot her abusive ex-husband with a shotgun, a signature weapon for her that she’s used to defend herself throughout the first couple of seasons. But Ava’s role in season one was to shag Raylan and get kidnapped twice so Raylan can rescue her. In season two so far she’s had another character steal money to pay off her debts (well, kind of, but let’s not spoil any more) and nothing else, at least up to the point I’m at. So she doesn’t count.
Then there’s Raylan’s ex-wife Winona, who first divorced him and then later her new husband Gary. She seems like she would fit, but she has the same problem Ava had. So far her primary role has been to ask Raylan for help, do nothing in return, get rescued by him, and shag him. So she’s out.
We have our token black female U.S. Marshal*, but frankly she’s so obviously there for the sole purpose of having somebody black and female that she barely counts, and stands as the sole weakness of the show for that reason.
So in season one we have no major strong female characters. Season 2 changes this a bit with the introduction of Mags Bennett, the main villain of season 2. And I think it’s no coincidence that season two is the only one that won the show Emmys…one of them for Mags Bennett (the other for her son, Dickie). Since then, no Emmys for “Justified” despite rave reviews, and I mean rave – like, 4.5+ out of 5 rave.
I don’t know. It’s just a theory. And who knows? Maybe it changes as the show goes on. But I think it makes a lot of sense.
*And not only is she the only black and only female marshal, she just so happens to be by the boss’s own admission the “best marshal he has”. Barf.