A Review of Utopia (TV series)

[Trigger warning: sexism, pregnancy, sterility, violence, child abuse]

So, Utopia is a comic-book inspired, refreshing series of 6 episodes. There would be much to say about it, for example about the style of it, with endless static shots and extremely edited colours (it’s like a comic book, get it?) which could be seen as… a bit pedantic, to be honest, but it’s really only just annoying in the first couple of episodes, the later ones are much less over-stylized, thank fuck.

However, I wanted to consider only the representation of women in it. At first sight, we should be delighted: so many female characters! Utopia is really symptomatic of the numerical view of fair representation. But when you see a bit more about who these characters are… Well, maybe 6 episodes is just not enough to really develop that many characters.

One woman, is pregnant. Her sole role in the series is being pregnant. Then it turns out she was a liar and gets killed.

One woman is sterile. Her sole role is to be sterile, and (obviously) reallly really to want a kid. At any cost.

One woman is diseased. Genetically. All her actions are imputable to the fact she is diseased: her interest in the conspiracy, her betrayal, her not wanting to date the male hero. She is that bisexual girl from House, basically.

One woman is Leeloo from the Fifth Element. This dawned on me mid-series (unhuman-likeness, improbable haircut) but you’re supposed only to realize it at the end, when she learns that what they were looking all along (it’s not called the Fifth Element, so let’s say the genetic disease thingummy which will change life on Earth forever) was IN HER. The actual words she is told is something incredibly tasteless and disturbing, like “You were looking for answers, for proof of your father’s love, he loved you so much he put it inside you”.

So, we have: the pregnant, the sterile with a will to mother, the diseased and the miraculous walking pharmaceutical. The four main female characters are therefore pure expressions of their biology. The only one that seems like a real character in the end is one we never get to know anything about, as she is a spy whose alllegiancies or real story are uncertain til the very end. But she is a powerful strong-willed woman who seems not to have everything about her dictated by her biology, so yay.

All this to say, fair representation is not about numbers, and forcing a higher number of women can mean just using more set female stereotypes, which Utopia chose to do.

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