September 13, 2012

The New Femme Fatale

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As fall approaches, so does a new season of primetime television. How I’ve missed curling up on Wednesday nights with my roommate and a bag of PopChips, waiting for the newest episode of Modern Family. When I don’t feel like going out, I like sitting on my bed on sleepy Saturday nights in pajamas, and watching the new episode of Saturday Night Live. Nothing cures a week of classes and work and general debauchery like a cup of tea and a T.V. show guaranteed to make you smile.

Looking through the list of comedies set to hit our computer screens this fall, there’s a single word that comes to mind: awkward. From Jess of New Girl to Mindy in The Mindy Project to the show actually entitled Awkward, I keep seeing female characters who are emotionally strong and socially awkward. These women are strange and amazing and leading casts with top ratings. They are much more than the klutzy friend, they are the klutzy femme fatales.

Whenever I hear that term, femme fatale, I think of Old Hollywood. I think of Rita Hayworth and Barbara Stanwick  — beautiful women who know what to say to a man and always happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Women who have complete confidence and know how to get what they want. Women who make men fall collar over coat-tails.

The image of this all-powerful woman in my head used to be the Jennifer Anistons, the Julia Roberts. That image is starting to change. The women that women look up to now are Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Zooey Deschanel — relatable, a little quirky, and far from perfect. It seems like nowadays the protagonist of choice is the awkward female. Last fall we met Jess of New Girl played by Zooey Deschanel, the queen of quirky indie naivete. A few years ago we fell in love with Tina Fey in 30 Rock as the socially disastrous Liz Lemon. After a few episodes we learned to love just about everyone in Parks and Recreation, even the abrasive April played by Aubrey Plaza. Women like these women and the characters they play. The ones who are smart, quirky, a little odd, but somehow still have it all, but to my suprise we’re not the only ones noticing.

Maxim’s list of hottest women in 2012 for example includes Zooey Deschanel, Emma Stone (both are in the Top 10), and Alyson Hannigan.’s list mimics Maxim’s and adds Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation and Alison Brie of Community to the group. Don’t get me wrong, these women are very attractive, but looking at the list I can’t help but wonder about a few things. First, I’m wondering if anyone in Trillium is looking over my shoulder and judging the random girl flipping through Maxim’s Top 100. Second, I’m wondering how Zooey Deschanel beat out the likes of Sofia Vergara and Olivia Munn. Okay Zooey is big in the Hollywood and Hulu communities this year along with Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie, but did these women really make the list because they are the hottest or because they play characters that guys find attractive too? We’re talking Olive from Easy A, the quick witted ingenue who any girl would want to be friends with, but couldn’t get to date. We’re talking about Alyson Hannigan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and American Pie, who was book smart but in the first season of Buffy stood in front of a guy she had a crush on and stared, mouth agape until he finally walked away. I can’t help but think this new mixture of confidence and awkwardness is the modern version of female confidence and strength. These women are the new queens of television, the klutzy femme fatales. The beau gauche.

As I curl up watching T.V. in my zip-up footie pajamas, all this gives me hope. I would love to be Rita Hayworth. At the mention of her name my 93-year-old uncle still calls her his girlfriend. But let’s get real, that will never be me. I have at least eight bruises on my right shin just from the number of times I tripped over air this week. I think I’m fine with that. I’d rather be a Liz Lemon.

Original Author: Arielle Cruz