Ifritah recently wrote a piece about La Femme Nikita where a perfectly good female assassin got a crises of conscience and wonders if she should act like more of a soft, caring woman. I was thinking of it as I threw beer bottles at the TV screen while I watched an episode of All Saints which did a hatchet job on a perfectly good realistic-if-not-saccharine-sweet female character.
And yet another perfectly good tough-as-nails female turns out to be really a softie/insane/pathologically self-serving. (Someone remind me at some point to do a piece on Sharon Stone’s character in The Practice.)
I think I’m going to stop writing articles about All Saints for a while, so disgusted am I at their disintegration of Deanna Richardson.
Basically, Deanna’s ambitious. She gets in there and suggests ideas aggressively, and makes sure she gets the credit for it. I didn’t see a problem with it. I want credit for the things I do, too. And I liked that they tempered her ambitious, aggressive side with a woman who tried hard to integrate herself into the existing social circle of the ward, a woman who was shy and awkward when it came to the doctor she was interested in, Jack.
But Deanna is, and always will be, the replacement for Nelson, who took three months off for his wedding and honeymoon. Except then his fiancee dies (this is one of the soapier parts of the soap/drama) and everyone’s rooting for Nelson to get over his grief and come back to work. Not that there’s anything wrong with Deanna. She’s just not Nelson.
If I had to deal with a whole ward of “˜when is the person you’re replacing coming back? because they were much better’, I’d get a bit cranky, too. My way of dealing with it would have been to find another, better job, and send all the doctors and nurses at All Saints a grand “˜fuck-you’ after I’d jumped ship (done it before; it’s fun), but Deanna’s way was to undermine Nelson who, quite frankly, didn’t seem up for returning to work anyway. I wouldn’t have done it Deanna’s way, but I could understand her motivations. She was resentful the rest of the ward took great pains to exclude her, and wanted to buy time to prove her mettle. And Nelson really wasn’t fit to return to work, anyway.
So far, so understandable. But then the boss, Frank, catches on to what Deanna’s doing and gives her an ultimatum; either quit or I’ll have you fired. Now, if I was Deanna (and as I seem to relate to the ambitious women rather then the nice girls, I think I’m in a position to speculate) and was given a few hours to myself to contemplate my next move, it would be that the only graceful exit was to extract a glowing reference from Frank and move on to another, better job”¦ and maybe send them a grand “˜fuck-you’. Except her ED doctor boyfriend Jack, who immediately catches onto the fact she’s upset, pesters her to open up. So she blurts out the only plausible story she can think of at a moment’s notice without incriminating herself; Frank sexually harassed her.
Even at this point, I could understand her position. Having been caught up to no good by her boss, she’s forced to think of a good lie to her boyfriend who demands to know why she’s upset. It’s dishonest and manipulative, but it shows a sense of self-preservation that I can’t help but admire.
Which brings me to the following episode which had me throwing beer bottles at the screen. Having dug herself into that hole, she could have quietly extracted herself from it. Self-preserving people always know how to make the least amount of enemies while extracting themselves from holes. She could have resisted Jack’s urgings to press charges, she could have whispered a word into Frank’s ear that it was best for everyone concerned if he gave her a glowing recommendation and sent her on her way. But no. She presses charges against Frank and shamelessly lies to all concerned, knowing that whatever happens, the ward will hate her for usurping their beloved Frank and Nelson. The opening scenes show her forcing a reluctant Jack to take sides when the Deanna of previous episodes, who was clearly fond of him, would have done her best to keep him out of it.
I hated it. Not because she was a self-absorbed, manipulative bitch, but that she had started out as a nice enough, if somewhat ambitious woman who TPTB had seen fit to reduce to a self-absorbed, manipulative bitch. Because, you know, all good tough-as-nails females turn out to really be softies/insane/pathologically self-serving. I realise how bitter this sounds, but believe me, I’m making fun of my own values almost as much as I’m making fun of the ones set out by the patriarchy.
Over the space of an episode we see her going from upset about being unappreciated to a pathological liar; from genuinely fond of her boyfriend to coldly manipulating him. Did the show suddenly take on misogynistic writer who saw fit to teach this bitch a lesson for going after what she wanted? I sure hope so, because the alternative makes my blood run cold for the future of Australia’s flagship drama.
After nine years of women-friendly storylines, I expected far, far more from All Saints. I just hope this is an anomaly and not the promise of things to come.