feminist tv review: Camelot (Starz) 1×05

This was a significantly better episode than all the others, and not just because they managed to make an episode without supplementary smut. Feminist agenda in three parts and spoilers ahead…

First, Sibyl (sp?) the nun and Morgan’s relationship has grown even more complex. We know that Sibyl took care of Morgan when Uther banished Morgan to a nunnery somewhere; we know that she has some (though we can’t be sure what) interest in ensuring Morgan is successful in her plans to overthrow Arthur, and more than that she has an interest in Morgan staying alive and preferably away from magic. In this episode we saw Sibyl go to extreme to ensure Morgan had the support of the land’s bourgeoisie, merchants and traders- who she was right in assuming have important political use. What’s most important here is that Morgan actually listened to the advice (good advice!)- conditionally, yes, but she still listened; this furthered the spirit of female collaboration in her court. Yes, this feminist is a biased feminist, I’m certainly counting myself in the ranks of Team Morgan (and Vivian and Sibyl).

Second, we had Guinevere display the qualities that would certainly make her a great queen. She saw need and instead of just complaining about it, she resolved to not only do it, but also to find a way to manage Camelot’s growing household practically. Even more than that, she took a strong stance against the abuse of women being perpetrated in a village and was instrumental in the case being heard at court; (it’s important to point out that we saw multiple male characters take a strong stance against rape here and that the show didn’t just leave it at female indignation). I’m really looking forward to see Guinevere continue grow past Arthur, and past Leontes.

Finally, we got a surprising perspective from Queen Igraine. I’ve been very hard on her in the past, and while I don’t take that back, I do have to acknowledge what we learned from her. In a conversation with Merlin we learned that before all these kings took an interest in her beauty, she was “strong, opinionated…and full of hope” and that she “dreamt of  a husband who’d treat [her] as an equal”. I’m hoping this was the show’s way of introducing her journey back to that strong and opinionated woman. It’s certainly worth considering what it would to take to break her from the middle age feminist to the milder and meeker Igraine we see now (though to survive what she did, you’d still have to maintain a steel spine).

It’s probably hopeless to wish for more episodes like this in a show like Camelot, but I’m glad that at least this show, unlike Game of Thrones, doesn’t leave me feeling like a raw nerve ending and frustrated all the damn time. I’m looking forward to more of Morgan, Vivian, and Sibyl, more of Igraine and Guinevere (preferably developing a friendship), and really, any more female characters are always welcome in a show about Arthur and his manly knights.


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