I’m watching the fifth season of 24, and what I’ve seen so far of the show’s portrayal of women, I (mostly) love.
For starters, you have Martha Logan, the First Lady. She’s married to a man who’s both weak and ambitious – a dangerous combination – but shows intelligence, quick-thinking, and innovation. She questions her husband’s judgements. She doesn’t care that her husband just happens to be the US President; if anything, that’s more reason to question his judgements. Her actions and resolve play a crucial part in her husband’s downfall.
And then you have Audrey Raines, the daughter of the Secretary of Defence. She’s got a convoluted history with our hero, Jack Bauer, but that doesn’t stop her from being, well, intelligent, quick-thinking and innovative.
Even the show’s female villains, like Marie Warner, Collette Stenger, etc are shown to be crafty and quick-thinking, often with an wrapedly logical, if somewhat sociopathic, reasons for doing what they do. The villainesses of 24 are several cuts above the promiscuous, vengeful villainesses you typically see in film and television.
But it’s Chloe O’Brien I want to talk about. Season Five opens with her literally throwing a guy out of bed. She’s gotten laid, now she wants him to go. And it gets better from there.
Chloe is stubborn, opinionated, brilliant, loyal, flawed, offbeat. A techie for the Counter-Terrorist Unit, she lacks in a lot social graces. She comes up with conversational pearls like “˜I’m sorry your husband got shot in the neck'; but that’s ultimately what I loved about her. She didn’t mince words. She said what was on her mind. She did her job.
When a close friend of hers dies in a CTU attack, she cries, she goes into shock, then she gets on with her job. OMG, a woman who can grieve, then get over it because, you know, there are greater things at stake? How cool.
And it’s not as if she’s a cold, hard woman. She’s loyal to people – they just have to have earned her loyalty. She shows a an absolute refusal to believe in Jack’s guilt, an instinct borne of great loyalty on Jack’s part that proves Chloe right time and time again. I really liked that the 24 PTB took the time to prove that Chloe stood by Jack because, well, Jack stood by Chloe.
My one gripe with this show is that we never see women racing around doing front-line things like Jack, Tony Almeda etc get to do. But 24 goes a long, long way to redeeming itself by showing such fantastic female characters like Martha, Audrey and Chloe.