There is an article that’s popped up on my Facebook feed several times in the past week on how Stephanie Tanner’s Fuller House style is an inspiration to girls. The point of the article is, I think, that she isn’t afraid of showing off her cleavage? I’m not really sure how that is an inspiration or pro-woman, considering that this is also true of every woman who has ever been on The Bachelor. As a busty woman, seeing Stephanie Tanner bare a little extra skin didn’t make me any more or less okay with my body; it just made me wonder if she was wearing the right size bra.
Now, I’ve had the misfortune of seeing a few episodes of Fuller House, and even if you discount the presence of star Candace Cameron, an anti-feminist Christian fundamentalist, it’s not a glowing representation of women. The overwhelmingly male writer’s room clearly has no idea how women interact with each other, and on top of that, the cast openly disses Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen for choosing their thriving fashion careers over this derivative and unnecessary sequel. But for some reason, the author of the Stephanie Tanner style piece dug through the shitpile to find a tiny reason why the show could be inspirational.
I’ve seen this more and more lately, especially in on Tumblr. Supernatural fans take the show’s obvious queer baiting and twist it so Supernatural somehow becomes, magically, the most LGBTQ friendly show on television (it’s not). I’m not sure if this is just fans giving creators too much credit for their work or just convincing themselves that series have merit that doesn’t exist, so they can feel better about liking them.
I’m here now to set you free: not everything you like has to have a secret message of social justice behind it. Some things just are. Your favorite series might be neutral or even really problematic, but it’s okay to still like it.
Here, I’ll go first. I love The Selection series by Kiera Cass. You’ve probably seen the covers at your local bookstore, but if you’re completely unfamiliar, the tag that’s often used to describe the series is, “The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games,” with the Bachelor elements coming on quite a bit stronger. Trust me—there is nothing more to these books that that tagline. The plot is shallow, as well as the main character, but goddammit if they aren’t the most silly and entertaining books to read on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t give credit where credit is due. There are a lot of really interesting shows on television right now pushing boundaries, and when media takes risks, it should be celebrated.
But a lot of series aren’t taking risks. Many books and TV shows rely on old narrative tropes, mistreat their female cast (see: Castle recently getting rid of two main female characters in order to pay a white man’s salary), or are just plain silly. If one of your favorite series falls into one of these categories, it’s okay. You don’t need to justify your love of the Full House reboot with false claims of feminism—just acknowledge its problems and turn your brain off for an hour to enjoy. Progressivism will still be there when you get back.
Image via Netflix.