“Mrs. Representation:” Minor Female Characters Take Over
Image courtesy of Lauren Buangan
On Feb. 15-17 “Mrs. Representation” was performed in Macgowan 1330 at 7:30 p.m. “Mrs. Representation” is an original one-act satirical musical written by UCLA student Shayna Warner and showcasing music by Mina Bloom. This satirical piece addresses the issue of minor female characters in television series being written as one-dimensional, simplistic, and disposable. The play’s intersectional feminist view also discusses tokenism with a musical number on minority characters that were only created to make a television series appear diverse.
The musical is set in a mysterious therapist’s office where the minor female characters receive group therapy for the stresses that come with their roles. The minor female characters include Mrs. Wasserman, a housewife, who is a “traditional” woman that only thinks about cleaning, cooking, and serving her husband. She doesn’t expect anything from her husband and doesn’t want to inconvenience him with her feelings.
Marianne, the Head Cheerleader, is a character paired with the Head Captain of any male’s sports team. She is appreciative of her boyfriend and her popularity. And then there is Rose, the token Asian-American girl. It’s often not made clear which Asian country she is from and she seems to be a mishmash of different cultures.
During their group therapy sessions Dr. Miller dismisses the women’s complaints about their roles and sternly tells them not to over-analyze. She assures them that the “big men upstairs” know what’s best for them and they simply need to follow the scripts given to them.
One day a new character appears. Emma is a token lesbian character who is presented as promiscuous and whose sexuality is used for jokes. Her arrival creates disorder as she encourages the women to express their true desires and frustrations. Marianne reveals that she would rather date another Head Cheerleader than a male athlete and Rose expresses her rage about being nothing more than token character whose personal details aren’t important.
This comedic and dramatic musical demands better written minor female characters. While they aren’t the main characters, they deserve to be more than one-dimensional tropes. They deserve to be more than disposable accessories.