Wet Hot American Summer fans are learning so many new things about the characters they've been quoting for the last 14 years thanks to the Netflix prequel series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp. But it's possible that no counselor's backstory is more surprising than that of Elizabeth Banks' Lindsay, who all of Camp Firewood eventually knows as Andy's girlfriend. Episode 2 of the show reveals that the Lindsay audiences met in the movie was in the process of pulling a full "Josie Grossie." She's actually an undercover reporter from Rock & Roll World magazine, who pitched a piece on discovering and living the real teenage experience for a little while. After convincing her editor and colleagues that the 24-year-old (Banks was 27 when the original movie came out) can pass for 16 with the help of an artfully placed barrette, she's off to Camp Firewood to get her story.
The re-positioning of Lindsay in the Wet Hot world is an interesting exercise in course-correction. The "hot girl" trope might have functioned for a 90-minute movie, but co-creators David Wain and Michael Showalter were smart to give Banks more to play for the series. Her secret job also contextualizes a problematic character by adding drive, smarts (a Masters degree from the Columbia School Of Journalism, as she'll never let her colleagues forget), and purpose. If only other showrunners would take their cues from Wain and Showalter and add some depth to their own female characters. Here are just a few who could use the Lindsay treatment.
Gloria On Modern Family
Sofia Vergara is a comic force on Modern Family. She commits to every bit and has impeccable timing. But even now, this far into the series, Gloria's identity is still paper-thin. She's sexy; she comes from a rough Columbian village; and...she's sexy. She's definitely in need of a beef-ed up backstory: a stint as a DEA informant, perhaps?
Penny On The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory writers didn't even bother to give Penny a last name, that's how much this character needs her own identity. Newsflash: "Girl-Next-Door" is not a complete personality. Back to the drawing board, please.
Elizabeth On Scandal
It's not that Elizabeth "Lizzy Bear" North isn't intriguing without a cogent backstory. It's that she's a mysterious character who invites an interest in how she got to where she is today. (Current location: Cyrus Beene's office.) I hope the next season of Scandal gives Gladiators some insight into how Lizzy Bear found herself to be a formidable player in its sleazy, fictional D.C.
Grace On Aquarius
OK, but hear me out: what if TV put a moratorium on wife characters who are just there to wife? Grace Karn serves the Charles Manson drama by being the long-suffering spouse and worrying mother to her husband and daughter and then providing a (forbidden) object of desire to our main character. Grace has no discernable motivations outside of those provided by the people around her. I like to imagine she's a secret '60s super-spy.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp knows: fully developed female characters only make a series better.
Images: Saeed Adyani/Netflix; Giphy (3); NBC