Is the Badass Female Only the Female with a Gun?

I love the badass characters. I enjoy the badass female leads in Quantico and Blindspot, to name a couple of examples from this fall’s TV season.

But I wish the badass qualities I love didn’t have to involve guns and violence. Is the standard audition practice these days to ask a woman to draw a weapon from a holster on her belt as quickly as she can?

I know we live in a violent world. I know we need FBI agents and other sentinels like them to protect us all.

But is gun-wielding female the only badass female character?

I want someone to write more badass characters like Erin Brockovich or Texas Senator Wendy Davis. (Oh, hey, someone is doing that! Yes!) I want more lifesavers like Dr. Leanne Rorish on Code Black or adventurers like Phryne Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries or tractor-driving farmers like Gillian from Last Tango in Halifax or system-fighting women like Laurel Hester from Freeheld.

We define badass as something like Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road when we should be thinking that badass is Lily Tomlin in Grandma. I think we glorify the violent. We create drama around guns, killing, revenge, retribution. Then we uplift those characters to represent the best in the culture.

In reality, violence is the worst part of our culture. There is plenty of drama to be had in ordinary existence. Just living provides ample struggle. We can redefine badass to be something that represents the good in us, can we not? We are using pop culture to redefine the attitude toward LGBT individuals, toward all kinds of inclusion. Why not redefine the attitude toward badass?

I plan to start mentioning it on social media and here on the blog when I find a character that I can define as badass who is also uplifting and nonviolent in her greatness.

I hope you’ll join me in mentioning such characters when you find examples.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix

Netflix has finally obtained season 3 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, the Australian series that I first reviewed some time ago. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries season 3 has 8 episodes.

With Essie Davis as the fabulous, free-spirited sleuth Phryne Fisher leading the cast, everything about this series is a romp. The series is set in 1920s Melbourne. Phryne’s a detective when a woman shouldn’t have been, at home in society or in a back-alley jazz club. She’s smarter than the police most of the time, and absolutely delightful all of the time.

The costumes are just luscious! The music is exceptionally good. I always sit through all the credits at the end, just to hear the final song playing the episode out. I don’t know Melbourne, so I can’t speak for the outdoor landmarks shown, but the indoor sets and the props are meticulously detailed and rich.

Detective Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) is her crime-solving helper in the police department, as are many others around her from all sorts of social levels. Miss Fisher’s companion/protégé Dot (Ashleigh Cummings), in particular, gets called upon to do detective assistant chores for the dashing heroine.

Nathan Page and Essie Davis in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
Nathan Page and Essie Davis in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

This is the season 3 trailer for the Australian ABC network.

In season 3, Phryne deals with her slick-talking father’s escapades in several episodes, all the while trying her best to send him back to England. I particularly enjoyed the episode in which Phryne’s Aunt Prudence (Miriam Margolyes) opens her home to a shady doctor who is running a sanatorium for ‘hysterical’ women. His method of treatment is a new invention that we now call a vibrator.

Here’s the season 2 trailer. Ignore the dates and channels mentioned, those applied to Australian TV.

Another season 2 promo offers glimpses behind the scenes.

If you haven’t yet learned to love Phryne Fisher and her elegant world, get over to Netflix and let her transport you into 1920s Melbourne.

There are full episodes of some of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on YouTube, no doubt illegally, if you don’t have Netflix.

Recommended: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is an Australian series that just appeared on Netflix and Amazon. Season 1 is available on Netflix, season 2 is currently airing in Australia.

Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher
Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries takes place in 1928 Melbourne. Essie Davis is Phryne Fisher, a feminist and free spirit who becomes a detective. The music, the sets, and the costumes are delightful, as are Phryne (pronounced fry-nee) and the people around her. Phryne is bold and clever and a couple of steps ahead of the police in solving crimes.

Other major characters are Nathan Page as Detective Robinson, Ashleigh Cummings as Phryne’s maid Dot. (That’s her in the photo at the top.) Tammy Macintosh is Phryne’s doctor friend (a woman doctor in 1928!). A couple of characters who run general detecting type errands and drive Phryne around are played by Travis McMahon and Anthony Sharpe.

The series airs in Australia on ABC-TV. It’s on Facebook.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Images ©ABC-TV Australia