Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Second-Girl Syndrome


L-R: Kate, Chloe Sullivan, Felicity Smoak, Eowyn
Yes, they all happen to be blondes...but I love 3 out of 4 of them.
     I'm going to be honest and say, I hate, hate, love triangles. They are usually shallow, melodramatic and really deter from the actual storyline. When it's a girl between two guys then it's equal on both sides. However, when it's a guy between two girls, it's an ugly situation, In most girl-guy-girl triangles, you have the preferred girl who usually gets all the hate and then you have what I've termed, the 'second-girl.' The girl madly in love with the guy who doesn't notice her and spends all her time pining over him. Originally, I called it Eponine syndrome, but due to Eponine's life in the story, she needs some sympathy (at least she got her own song). 

     The four characters I have listed below are all examples of second-girl. I hate Kate (BBC's Robin Hood), however, Chloe (Smallville), Felicity (Arrow) and Eowyn (Lord of the Rings) are all great characters. Sometimes their roles as the second-girl adds to the story, sometimes it's in their character development, but then the role can also be put upon them by fan's perspectives. Sometimes the second-girl gets the guy, like Felicity and temporarily Kate, and sometimes the girl gets a guy better suited for them, like Chloe and Eowyn, but however their story might end, the second-girl is one of the most difficult characters to write and they can either make or break the story.

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Kate (BBC's Robin Hood)

     Brought in for the final season of Robin Hood, Kate was created to replace Marian (who was killed) and Djaq (who went back to the Middle East) and she had potential to be a great character, but the writers absolutely destroyed her. Kate is a peasant girl living in Locksley where she meets Robin Hood. She starts off with immediate dislike of Robin by first blaming him for her brother's death and then when she is rescued by him and Allan, she is completely rude and ungrateful. When another woman (who is absolutely terrible) walks into Robin's life, Kate is suddenly in love with him. Although, instead of just telling Robin how she felt about him, Kate was immature, childish and rude the entire time. She completely defined the second-girl syndrome with her pitiful and selfish personality and she only got worse as the season dragged on. 

     The writers were trying to create another Marian, but it just didn't work. They made Kate too feminist and too independent. Once she becomes part of the group, she thought she could be the queen bee and get Robin to herself, but Robin has his eye on Isabelle Gisborne and pays no attention to Kate in the beginning. She deserves it though for how she treated Robin. Season 3 was actually a very good season, but Kate almost ruined it.

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Chloe Sullivan (Smallville)

     Now, to be honest, Chloe is a regular teenage girl who is talented and brilliant, but her crush on Clark Kent was really damaging to her character in the first 2 seasons of Smallville. Chloe has been in love with Clark since she first met him in 7th grade. Although Clark values her as a friend, he has been madly in love with beautiful and popular Lana Lang since he was 3 years old. Because of Clark's feelings for Lana and his ignorance of Chloe's feelings for him, Chloe tended to treat Lana badly in the beginning of season 1. Overtime, they became friends, but Clark was constantly coming between them. Lana couldn't help the way Clark felt about her, but she was always bearing the brunt of Chloe's anger. The hurtful part is that as friends, Chloe and Lana are great together,

     Chloe's problem (like Kate) is that she never came out and told Clark how she felt about him. So instead of telling him, she burdened Lana with her grief until it almost tore the two girls apart. So, needless to say, Chloe was very annoying in seasons 1 and 2 of Smallville and I really had a hard time liking her character. By season 3, Chloe has matured quite a lot and realizes that Clark will always just be her friend. When she comes to the realization, her friendship with Lana becomes much stronger and they really become an inseparable duo till Lana's departure in season 8.

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Felicity Smoak (Arrow)

      I really do enjoy Felicity as a character, but she was never suppose to be a series regular. After her first appearance in season 1, fans and producers liked her so much that they hired Emily Bett Rickards to continue her role as the brainy computer whiz. Cool, awesome, she was another Chloe Sullivan...but then they had to go and put her in a love triangle. Now there's nothing wrong with Felicity being in love with Oliver, but I felt that being the second-girl distracted from her character at times. She's an absolute genius with a heart of the purest gold (and is really the only sane character on the show), but I felt that the writers somewhat rushed the Felicity/Oliver relationship and all fans saw her as was 'the better girl for Oliver.' She has so much more to offer the story in the beginning.

     While Felicity is in love with Oliver, Oliver, himself, is conflicted with the two Lance sisters. Neither one of them deserve him. In all actuality, Felicity is the only woman in the show that deserved Oliver, but I felt that only reason she was doing the work she was doing was only for Oliver. If someone else (with the same reasons as Oliver) asked her to to work underground for them, I don't think Felicity would jump immediately at the opportunity. Now, Felicity does end up with Oiliver in the end, but I hope fans appreciate her more than the girl who was in love with her boss.

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Eowyn (The Lord of The Rings)

     Tolkein in a stroke of genius, wrote the character of Eowyn as a woman ahead of her time. Strong, fierce, beautiful and intelligent, Eowyn is the epitome of what a true adventure heroine is. Yet, in the midst of all her strength must be a vulnerable weakness and that happens to be her love with Aragorn. Of course, Aragorn is in love with Arwen, but what bothers me isn't so much the love triangle, it's the fan's perspective of both women in the story. Eowyn is a hero because she can swing a sword and ride into battle, so maybe she's a better match for Aragorn. Arwen, on the other hand, must make the hard decision of leaving Middle Earth with her people or risk her immortality and stay with Aragorn, so that makes her boring and unimportant. 

     Somehow, people think that because Eowyn fights in battle, she's the better of the two women. That because Arwen is a more subdued and tranquil, she is weak and serves no purpose. Eowyn may get the sympathy vote because of her hard life with her dysfunctional family, but does that make her more deserving than Arwen who had a happier life? Both women are equally strong and important. Eowyn is the point of reference for her family and Rohan, and Arwen is the center of all of Aragorn's most complex decisions in his life. 


2 comments:

  1. Another character I can think of is Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark Warleggan from Winston Graham's "POLDARK" series. She is not written as an idealized character and fans are constantly frustrated with protagonist Ross Poldark's love for her, despite his marriage to popular leading lady Demelza Carne Poldark (who is something of a Mary Sue to me). Fans tend to blame Elizabeth for a lot and mistake her reserved character as cold.

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    1. I've never read the books, but I loved Season 1 of the show. I really enjoyed Elizabeth as a character; she was a sweet girl who was in a difficult position. And her husband was terrible to her as well, but she still managed to get through because she loved her son. You're right, Elizabeth can't help the way Ross feels about her and that's something fan's shouldn't blame or hate her for.

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