PlayStation’s Powers Series: Kicking Ass and Unnecessarily Showing Skin
PlayStation network’s original series, Powers, is returning for Season Two at the end of this month. The show is using what should prove to be a gripping plot line: solving the “Who Killed Retro Girl?” mystery from the Powers comics. The show's new trailer promises plenty of action and emotion for fans of intense programming. However, even a cursory glance at the trailer or promotional photo on PlayStation’s page will make obvious the show’s startling, major problem: the unnecessary and degrading sexualization of its female characters.
In the poster, every female character is showing more skin than any male character. But Deena, Calista, and Pilgrim need not expose their midriffs, cleavage, or wear suits with body-showcasing cutouts in order to be successful at their jobs.
There's a clip in Season Two’s trailer where Calista rips open her cape to reveal her superhero garb. While it could have been a cool move, the shot places emphasis on her sexuality rather than on her act of passionately paying homage to Retro Girl. The camera begins on a zoom of her chest as she opens the cape, revealing her breasts before any other part of the scene. Check it out below:
I’m not saying there should be no sex and no sexuality in this program, but why can’t the female heroes fight the bad guys while fully clothed, as the men do?
While the sexualization of women is not unique in television programs, it’s worth criticizing here.
Why? Because of the show’s apparent attempt at positively representing women in terms of character traits. Powers is not entirely backwards, but there is a definite imbalance in the amount of skin the main female characters are showing versus the amount the main male characters are showing, and it’s not necessary to the plot. Especially not in a show that's supposed to have powerful female characters.
I won’t critically analyze each scene in terms of its representation of women, since the show generally portrays women as multifaceted and often strong, but I wish Powers would opt to focus on the females’ words and actions rather than their bodies, unless it is relevant to the scene. It shouldn’t matter that the female characters were drawn in sexy costumes in the comics, because this feature of comics is socially problematic and unnecessary to the story.
Further, several non-white actors are playing characters who were white in the comics, so improving the show's representation of women is a logical next step. Powers' mistake can always be reversed as the show progresses, and it won’t change anything besides pleasing feminist fans. To the all-male set of executive producers: it’s not too late to change!