Fat and Not Afraid

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D in Review

October 16, 2013

Ever since the 1990's cartoon X-Men I've been a Marvel fan. I've sat and watched every movie they've made and was very excited to hear about Agents of SHEILD coming to the little screen.

We're not big television watchers, having switched to Netflix a while back, but now that I'm at my in-laws I find myself looking for regular cable entertainment. Agents began the week I moved here and I've been faithfully following along.

It's been a slow start but I feel like last night the show really hit it's stride. The pace was much better, there's been enough character development amongst the team that I care about them now, and I love all the hint dropping there's been about Agent Coulson and 'what happened to him'. The writing isn't as snappy as I've come to expect from a Joss Whedon production but it's a lot better than some of the garbage that's on TV today. It's also about a team of professionals, so expecting conversation similar to that of Dollhouse or Buffy (Firefly is right out) is unfair of me.

My favourite character is Agent Coulson, but only because he's got more history than the other characters from being in the Marvel films. His calm, determined face is exactly what the team needs and I love that he never, ever plays the stereotypical macho-man team lead guy that's in so many other shows. He's tough but fair, and has a sense of humour with a love of old things. The best theory I've heard as to What Happened to Coulson in various comment threads online is that he really did die at the Battle of New York but his brain/consciousness was tranferred to a new body, a clone. That explains the lack of muscle memory from episode 2 or 3 in handling the gun.

It's good that the show has a diverse cast of characters, if you can call including one person of colour (Ming Na Wen as Agent May aka The Cavalry) inclusive. I'm a little hazy on whether or not Skye is Latin@, but Fitz, Simmons, Ward and Coulson are all very very white.  Susana Polo at The Mary Sue has a good breakdown of this: I think it’s important to praise the show for managing to wrangle a main cast that includes complete gender parity; for giving its one character of color a backstory/archetype that stands outside the usual roles offered to Asian women and that the show is, I think, rolling out slowly but with care and attention; and for casting actors of color in, so far, 75% of its one-episode-guest-star roles. But I think it’s also important to point out that more than 80% of its main cast are white, and if the show had the pull to make a main cast 50% female and a supporting cast very diverse, that maybe it also had the leeway to create a more diverse central cast, but didn’t for any number of reasons. The truth is, there’s nothing in what we’ve seen of Simmons, Ward, or Skye’s backgrounds so far that would preclude them from being cast with actors of color. It’s laudable to fill your supporting cast with interesting characters of color, but when they all disappear at the end of the episode it can leave audience members hungry for one that sticks around, makes relationships with the main cast, and gets the kind of expanded character arc that befits a main character of a television show.

 That about sums it up for now. Until next week!

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