Brisco County: Dixie Cousins

So your TV show needs a sexy female lead who’s going to be the male star’s lover. How do you construct her so she appeals to men without getting women like me coming after you with pitchforks?   Can you, dare I ask, perhaps even write her so she’ll appeal to women like me as well?   Yes, you can. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. got it right with Dixie Cousins (Kelly Rutherford), and here are their secrets, starting with the   superficial and moving inward:

    • If sexy is a requirement, make her a showgirl. Not a doctor, lawyer or scientist. Giver her the job shared by Marilyn, Mae and Madonna. That way, her sex appeal is a built-in feature, not a discordant add-on.
    • Make her costumes gorgeous and elegant, instead of Victoria’s Secret heroin-hooker chic. Leave something to the imagination.
    • Don’t have her use sex acts or flirtation to get what she wants. It’s as cliched and unbelievable as deus ex machina: believe me, if men were that easy to manipulate, women would rule the world.
    • Give her a life aside from her love affair with the star. Brisco never knows when he’ll see Dixie again, and whenever they meet up, it’s usually under unusual circumstances brought about by whatever she’s been up to.
    • When you do visit cliches, such as her wanting to settle down and him not being ready for a commitment, personalize it. Show us why they feel this way, instead of assuming we, like you, accept the cliche as a norm in male-female relationships.
    • Never put her in direct competition with the lead guy. Give her a separate set of strengths and weaknesses, so he can remain #1 at his important Lead Guy stuff, and she can be #1 in other ways. Equal doesn’t necessarily mean “same”.

      Follow these rules, and you’ll have a massively elegant, sexy, street-smart leading lady for your leading man, and even I will become a shipper for them. Seriously. I love how Dixie and Brisco begin with a simple, quickly-consummated sexual attraction, and slowly over the course of the show fall in love – plausibly, with no steps left off-screen. I love the conversation where she tells him that, much to her own shock, she’s finding she wants to settle down, and he explains that he’s not ready to commit because he saw what his dad put his mom through – finally, a man gives a reason why he has commitment issues, instead of leaving me to assume it came with the Y-chromosome. And I can’t speak for everyone, but I love how there’s no understanding between Dixie and Brisco. When their separate but equal lives pull them in different directions, with Dixie’s path being just as important as Brisco’s, they make no promises of fidelity or future encounters; but somehow they always inevitably drift back together. It’s the height of romance and sexiness, all in one package.

      Comments

      1. Gategrrl says

        Wow. I remember watching Brisco County Jr when I stumbled on it one day, and got kind-of caught up in it, but I don’t remember this part of the show at all – I remember Brisco’s relationship with his partner, whose name I can’t remember off-hand.

      2. Gategrrl says

        Oh, and I wanted to add – ITA with you on the “This is a Ship I Can Get Into” — now, if only TPTB on Stargate approached the Daniel and Vala thing this way, I even might have gone on board with it – but not the way it is contructed now.

      3. Jennifer Kesler says

        The partner was “Bowler”, and pretty much EVERY relationship in that show rocked. Great cast chemistry combined with writers who aren’t afraid to stick their necks out and explain why characters behave or feel as they do.

        That’s what Stargate’s lacked for a lot of years: the nerve to explain where characters are coming from. They’re afraid if we hate the explanation, we’ll lose interest. But the danger of us seeing no reason on earth why these people would like each other, let alone love, is worse.

      4. scarlett says

        I reckon, beyond the obvious of mounting costs, that this is why the show got cancelled; the audience had left in droves because they didn’t give a crap about characters, or their relationships.

      5. Lacy Jane says

        Hi. I absolutely loved this because it was so spot on. Did you know that Amanda Wickwire, Professor Wickwire’s daughter, was originally supposed to be Brisco’s recurring love interest? But the chemistry between Kelly Rutherford and Bruce Campbell was such that they couldn’t just let it go after one episode, so they decided to make Dixie the recurring love interest. Plus, she was extremely popular with the fans. I remember when I first watched the pilot and I saw Amanda and Dixie, I knew the intent was to make Amanda the more likable character, but I couldn’t get enough of Brisco and Dixie. And you’re right, any show that wants a sexy female love interest should model her after Dixie Cousins!

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