I've been having a marathon session of Rescue Me for the last couple of weeks, I'm on season 7, and my patience is finally coming to a grinding halt.
This isn't an unusual situation. I get into big US shows such as Rescue Me and The Wire (among others), and I grit my teeth almost every time a female character is on the screen, until I finally lose patience and have to give up on shows I otherwise enjoy.
And here's why:
The women are almost always utterly repulsive. They're needy, self-obsessed, self-centred, greedy, harridans. The plot-line is always the same: Male lead is divorced or separated from the woman, and the woman's major role in the plot is to obsessively nag the man to pay for absolutely everything she wants in her life, every needless yet expensive whim she has for her children's lives, all of her bills, her house, her car. Everything. And the male lead sucks it all up along with his booze.
On top of this, there's always the girlfriend. Who is ALWAYS an utterly insane drain on his emotions and well-being, needy, screeching and horrible.
And I think I finally figured out why this lazy writing is so prevalent.
It's because the "Flawed Hero" character (see Tommy Gavin, Jimmy McNulty) is actually such a total and absolute twunt, so completely and utterly worthless, such a terrible human being, that the women have to be depicted as ten times as bad in order for the audience to buy the idea of the Flawed Hero being a Flawed Hero instead of just realising that he's a complete shit.
Seriously. In Rescue Me, there's AN ACTUAL RAPE. Hubby rapes wife. Flawed Hero RAPES Needy Wife. And she likes it. That is some despicable gender politic depiction right there. And it's representative of US television. And that's pretty fucked up.