Welcome to Fierce Fictional Female Profiles, a semi-regular feature where I write about current female characters in popular culture (probably mostly TV and film) that I think are well-written and realistic. With so many tropes surrounding women in the media and affecting the way we are perceived in real life, I like to call attention to stories that attempt to break those habits.
Camille Engelson, Stitchers
Occupation: Computer science grad student; technician and occasional Stitch director in the secret government “Stitchers” program, where she helps her friends solve murders by “stitching” the protagonist into dead people’s memories. Also originally hired to spy on said protagonist.
Three reasons I love her:
- Her reaction to feeling powerless after an attack on the Stitchers team was to ask the guy recovering from a gunshot wound to train her in fighting, since he had plenty of spare time. She then proceeded to continue learning Krav Maga so that when further threats arose, she could meet them head-on. This demonstrates her response to failure: get better so it doesn’t happen again. (Plus we get to see some pretty badass fight scenes.)
- The writers allow her to have flaws. Her original role as a spy for the program director, plus her own trust in her gut, lead Camille to have some inconsistent views on trust and loyalty, a code that sometimes frustrates her coworkers and distances her from her friends. She lashes out when she doesn’t know how to deal with emotional situations (again, that instinct that leads her to fight physically) and is still dealing with a past she’s not proud of.
- Though she has a kind of Tragic Backstory, Camille neither milks it for sympathy nor deals with it in a one-and-done episode. The series brings up unexpected ways in which her trailer park upbringing continues to affect her, making it just one part of a complex, developed character. She deals with some things, like kicking her brother’s ass when he shows up and robs her friend (one of the best moments of the series, in my opinion), but she still struggles to move past other reminders of her childhood, which make her a weaker team member when she shuts people out.
Icing on the cake: THE SNARK. Camille gets the best one-liners in the series (see below), but she’s always available to offer advice and sympathy (and open a bottle of wine) when her friends need her.
Though she still adheres to certain aspects of the Best Friend role, Camille is well-written enough to feel real.
Who are some of your favorite female TV characters right now? What do you think writers tend to get wrong? Let me know in the comments!