I don’t have any good excuses for why my past two Thursday posts have come out on Friday. The truth of the matter is that I’m spending every free minute I have watching old episodes of Person of Interest. Have you seen this show? It’s in its third season, and it’s about an artificial intelligence called “the Machine” that uses all the information in the world to predict when acts of terrorism or crimes are about to be committed. The Machine was created by a reclusive billionaire at the request of the U.S. government, which is only interested in the acts of terrorism. The billionaire has arranged it so that he gets notified of the crimes, which the government considers “non-relevant” and ignores. The billionaire works with a partner, an ex-CIA/Special Forces badass, to stop the crimes from happening. All the Machine sends them is a social security number, and they have to figure out whether the person of interest is a future victim or future perpetrator.
I watched a few episodes in the first season because the premise was interesting and timely, with the news that various internet companies were doing borderline things with the information they harvest from us. I can’t remember why I broke up with PoI, but I did. For some reason, I happened to pick it up again this summer during the reruns and caught the last episode of last season, watched the first few episodes of this season, and now I’m hooked.
At some point in one of the many episodes I missed, the writers found their groove and a snarky sense of humor that I love. There are times during this one-hour drama where I find myself laughing out loud. They’ve also added more women to the cast, both as series regulars and recurring characters. One regular is an NYPD cop, played by Taraji P. Henson; another regular is another Special Forces badass, played by Sarah Shahi; the last regular is a complete nutjob, sort of villainous hacker, played by Amy Acker; and the recurring character is a “fixer” (she works behind the scenes among the rich and powerful in NYC quietly making their problems go away), played by Paige Turco.
Here’s what I love about these actresses: they are not twenty-something blonds who are there for the convenience of the men on the show. Each of their characters is brilliant in her own way, and their skills complement the skills of the men. Even though Turco’s character and Caviezel’s character have some sort of FWB relationship, the women don’t sit around talking about their love lives. They’re all fully-realized characters with backstories and motivation and agency. If they were real, I’d be stoked to have a couple of glass of wine and hang out with all of them. Well, I’d probably hesitate to hang out with the nutjob hacker, but it would still be interesting. My favorite character is Turco’s, and I’ve bought all the episodes she appears in to stream from Amazon (I’m going to buy myself the DVDs for Christmas – I want to see the extras).
I caught up with my friend Diane the other night, and I told her about my new obsession, and she asked me if it passed the “Bechdel test.” I hadn’t heard of it, so she sent me this link (the very interesting article discusses how Sweden rates every movie that plays in the country on the Bechdel test). The Bechdel test is named after an American cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, and in order to pass, a movie or tv show “must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.” You may or may not be surprised at how few movies pass the Bechdel test.
I see the news coming out of the Miami Dolphins locker room, and I read articles like this one about influential chefs and how vast and strong the good old boys’ network is. PoI may be a silly tv show, but it makes me laugh, and it gives me hope that there are pockets of the world out there where humans, regardless of gender, treat each other with respect and know right from wrong. Once I’m done escaping (and have had myself a massive, PoI marathon with the DVDs), I’ll be back on track with my writing. For now, I need the comfort of the illusion of true equality.