The Bitch is Back

When I was in my early teens, I loved Melrose Place. Specifically, I loved Amanda Woodward. Amanda was a much cooler character then the other women of Melrose, who were mostly complete nutcases or doormats who sat down and cried and waited for their boyfriends/husbands/fathers to fix things up after something bad had happened, usually Amanda getting the better of them.

When I told one of my friends that I thought Amanda was a brilliant character, she gave me this look, like there was something wrong with me that I related to the bitch more then I related to the nice girls. So I shut up and didn’t think about it again until I was reading an analyses of Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind.

Scarlett, it was argued, was deeply flawed. She was deeply ambitious and opportunistic, but she was also intensely loyal with a deep sense of obligation. She wasn’t exactly “˜nice’, but then, if she’d stopped to be “˜nice’, she would have starved to death. So it made sense that she should go out a hustle herself a living.

And I realised that was why I liked Amanda. Like Scarlett, like all the fictional (and real-life) women I’ve admired, she was flawed. And she had hustle. When something didn’t go as planned, she didn’t sit down and cry and wait for a man to fix things up. She went right on scheming.

Amanda used whatever asset was available to gain more power or maintain the power she had; but she never took advantage of people who didn’t deserve being taken advantage of. She schemed and outwitted all her professional competition (and any woman after her man) but showed a personal, if not professional loyalty to her friends.

And it should be remembered that Amanda was intensely loyal to the men in her life. She loved them, and if she left them, it was usually because they did something rotten, like cheat on her. Good for her for walking away from a man who didn’t deserve her. What, was she supposed to stick it out with someone who was unable to be faithful?

And true, she didn’t have many girlfriends, but if I had to pick from the other women of Melrose, I’d stick with the guys, too. I breathed a sigh of relief when Alison left the show; one more incident of her crying on Billy’s shoulder and I was going to send hate mail to Courtney Thorne-Smith.

And analysing my reasons for liking Amanda, I realised this was why I’d always related to the “˜bitches’ over the “˜nice girls’. When something went wrong, the nice girls sat down and cried and waited for a man to fix the problem, and the bitches went out and found themselves a solution by fair means or foul. Maybe I never entirely approved of Amanda’s way of doing things, but I always admired her willingness to make something of herself.

With or without a man.


  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    I find TV nice girls are so unrealistic. In real life I meet truly kind women who do stand up for themselves when pushed, and I meet doormats who are so deeply neurotic, the nice is obviously just a facade. I don’t meet truly nice doormats. So that type of characters rings false for me.

  2. scarlett says

    I think we were supposed to see that if you take what’s given to you and wait for a man to take care of you, then that makes you a nice girl and that’s what you should aim for. That’s why I never related to the nice girls, why I was rooting for the bitches. And come to think of it, a lot of them weren’t really bitches – Amanda stands out for me because from what I remember, she wasn’t really one to steal someone else’s boyfriend or be mindlessly cruel like Kathryn from Cruel Intentions. She worked hard, she played hard, she was quite territorial about what she’d earned, and apparantly that made her a bitch. Or maybe the standard for bitchiness has been raised somewhat since Melrose was canned.

    And now that I think about it,  those so-called ‘nice girls’ seemed to do far more man-stealing and back-stabbing the Amanda.

  3. says

    And now that I think about it, those so-called ‘nice girls’ seemed to do far more man-stealing and back-stabbing the Amanda.

    But see, it’s not wrong for a woman to sin to get a man – it’s a special exemption clause that the patriarchy was kind enough to grant us in the day when (a) we didn’t have souls, anway, and (b) getting a man was the only valid pursuit a woman could make in life.

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