Alpha women, less cliché men, series nuance gender

(AFP) – Alpha women, united or in struggle: the female characters of the series presented at the Séries Mania festival are gaining in power and visibility in the face of men whose vulnerability or gentleness is more exposed.

The female characters “have dominant positions, they take charge, it’s a trend,” said Laurence Herszberg, general manager of the Lille festival, to AFP.

A dozen series in their fifties presented during the festival (until Thursday) talk about women of all generations – from the teenager “Anna” by Niccolo Ammaniti (from September 10 on arte.tv) to the character of Nona, a pregnant septuagenarian imagined by Valérie Donzelli – with well-tempered characters.

Some are determined to shake up the codes like the feminist and Muslim punk group of “We are lady parts” (on BrutX on September 15) or of the two ballet dancers followed in “The Opera” (on OCS on the 7th September).

In the face of adversity, female alliances are formed beyond social classes like that of Sarah, a penniless Australian businesswoman, with Filipino employees exploited in “The unusual suspect” (soon on OCS) or between a single mother in galley and a bankrupt bourgeois in the Swedish series “Dough”.

The figure of the strong woman is also essential when it comes from a heritage, as in the Icelandic social and political saga “Blackport” (on Arte in 2022) where Harpa goes from secretary of town hall to head of company in an attempt to save his small fishing village threatened by new legislation.

“Her character is inspired by real people, women in the fishing industry of the 1980s. Historically in Iceland, women are strong figures,” said Gísli Örn Garðarsson, co-creator and actor of the series.

– Gender inversion –
In these stories, women are often led to take the reins in the face of the failure of the men around them.

Like everyday super heroines, like the Norwegian Porni, a social worker who, in the eponymous series, has difficulty coping with an overloaded daily life between two teenagers, a dependent father and a little helping ex-husband.

A true phenomenon in Norway, also for its social dimension, the series was the most watched in the country 24 hours after its launch.

Opposite, the dominant masculinity is no longer in order, especially under the gaze of the creators of series. For her comedy series “Jeune et Golri”, comedian Agnès Hurstel has chosen to include in the cast two comedians, Paul Mirabel and Nordine Ganso, preferring to show their “gentle” humor in the face of the more “aggressive” and transgressive one of young women. who were to conquer their place in the middle of the stand-up.

In “Nona et ses filles”, the first series by director and actress Valérie Donzelli, Nona (Miou-Miou), pregnant at 70, is brooded by her three daughters and a “male midwife”. “I like to show the feminine side of men, their gentleness, their delicacy,” she explained to the Lille audience.

Hagai Levi, famous creator of the multi-adapted series “In therapy”, tried his hand at gender inversion for his adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s series “Scenes of married life”, relating the intimacy of ‘a couple who tear each other apart.

The Israeli author explains that he was blocked in writing by Bergman’s version of “a woman who is the victim, towards whom all our empathy goes” and a man “cold, misogynist, a big jerk”.

“It was a hindrance for a long time and from the moment I reversed it all fell into place because it got more modern,” Hagai Levi explained.

Women models have therefore fizzled out, especially with “Mytho” (season 2 from October on Arte) where Elvira (Marina Hands) blows up her family unit with a lie.

For Pierre Langlais, series specialist for the weekly Télérama, “it’s healthy to have series like (this one) whose main character is a mother and a wife + problematic +”.

“We rejoiced for 20 years to see the characters of men who were bastards or antiheroes each worse than the other. Why should women not have the right in turn to be negative or malicious?”, he asks.