Northern Exposure: Eve

Eve was an occasional but memorable character on Northern Exposure. She was a hypochondriac, which might pass for a female stereotype.

She kidnapped Joel and held him hostage in her cabin in an attempt to force him to treat her imaginary disorders. That’s where the stereotype falls apart. She’s crazy and cunning, and through the series shows a knack for dragging Joel into lengthy battles of medical logic against his better judgment. If he convinces her she doesn’t have this disorder, she comes up with three others he has to prove she doesn’t have.

Valerie MahaffeyThe most striking thing about Eve is probably that she’s as funny as any of the guys on the show, and funnier than most. Maggie, Shelly and Ruth Anne usually played it straight, setting up the moments for the guys to swoop in and be hilarious. In fact, unless a woman has her own comedy show a la Roseanne or Lucy, actresses generally get a lot fewer chances to be funny than actors. If your first response to this is “that’s not true”, make a list of five shows, and then list how many men and women regularly get to be funny on them. If you still don’t agree, leave a comment below. 😉

Eve was totally wacky, in a scary sort of way. You never knew what she might do next, and she could go from pleasant to homicidal in the blink of an eye. Valerie Mahaffey stole scenes, probably without meaning to, because she was just that good. Wonder what the hell happened to her? Haven’t seen her in years.


  1. says

    Eeek – when I first saw “Eve” as the heading of the article I thought I was in trouble or something o.O

    But of course, no, no it wasn’t.

    I must say, not only has reading this site gotten me hankering to rewatch Northern Exposure, it’s really opened my eyes to just how women are portrayed. There’s many a radio add. I would have simply ignored, but now I do what I call the “swap test”: if a man were in the same role as the woman, would he be saying/reacting in a similar fashion?

    And most of the time no, no he wouldn’t. So thanks for this site, it never really struck home about certain things, certain expectations etc. that women automatically seem to embrace, etc.

    And I would be an active forum person, if I didn’t hate forums so much :_P

    And so this comment actually relates to the article in question, if a woman is to be one of the funniest, does she also have to be one of the craziest characters, I wonder? There’s no doubt that on SATC that Sam Jones was the funniest character [Carrie? Bitch, please..], and yet many have hailed her character as unbelieveable, over the top, and even downright crazy. Hmm.

    There hasn’t been a believeable portrayal of women since Ab Fab – yes, some think that show is utter fantasy, there are women really like that. Plus where else could you get such truth as:

    SAFFRON: “Mum, what gives her the right to treat people that way?”
    EDDIE: “Well because she’s *thin*, darling.”


  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    AbFab is slightly exaggerated in some places, but yeah, there are definitely people like that. Part of its brilliance was that it’s all about the sort of hideous abuse people put each other through – really nasty stuff – and they get away with some very frank truths because they couch it in comedy. That’s one of the great potentials of comedy in general, and AbFab took that potential to new heights.

    And BTW, commenting here is actually preferable to using the forum, as far as I’m concerned. I set up the forum for those who prefer it, but I actually kinda hope some film and TV people someday stumble across this site, and I think they’re more likely to read comments than to read the forum.

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