Anna Camp Set to Star in ABC's 'Damaged Goods' & We Debate Its Feminist Potential
Pitch Perfect star Anna Camp is set to star in a new ABC comedy called Damaged Goods. The series is the creation of Lauren Iungerich, who penned MTV’s Awkward. ABC has been ruling the sitcom game with Modern Family, but hasn’t fared quite as well with other series like Super Fun Night or the Goldbergs — which is a shame considering both series star some seriously funny women. Maybe Damaged Goods will be ABC’s next big hit.
And we’ve got our fingers crossed for it, especially since Anna Camp is aca-awesome and we miss her on television (bring her back, Mindy Project!). However, the synopsis of the series is more than a bit worrisome.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Damaged Goods is a “comedy about the sexual politics that have changed between men and women in the post-feminist era. Camp will star as Nicole, a smart and successful attorney who is totally bewildered and betrayed when her boyfriend Tim tells her that he can’t be happy for her or continue to date if she takes the promotion she was offered at the law firm where they both work -- the promotion he expected to get.”
Hmmmmm. There’s a lot of potential there for this show to go horrendously wrong, or it could suprise us in lots and lots of ways (which is what we’re hoping for). Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?
Issue One: The Title
A show about an emotionally-wrecked woman called Damaged Goods raises a lot of red flags. Is she damaged only because a man wronged her? Is she damaged or undateable because of what an awful ex did. In the synopsis it sounds like the ex is the one who is the real jerk and yet we’re labeling her as the problem? Eerrrrrgggghhhhhhh.
But! It could be a little tongue-in-cheek. Maybe she turns it around and really sticks it to him by being a badass boss in her career and personal life. Also Jess Day is far from being a “new girl” and yet the title still remains even though everything associated with that identity is buried pretty deep in the show’s history.
Issue Two: Post-Feminist?
Um. No. Nope. Naahhhhhhh. Feminism isn’t tied to one era or convenient block of time. Remember how well it went over when “post-racial America” started being tossed around after Obama’s first election? Feminism is a worldview that has influenced culture, politics, art, and the day-to-day life of people for as long as people have been like, “Gee, people should be treated equally no matter what their gender, identity, race, age, or sexual preference.” It also disregards the many layers and complicated categories of feminism.
Also, the issue facing the protagonist is grossly non-feminist. A man can’t handle a woman’s power so he leaves her? Oh, that’s fresh.
Again, this issue can be swiftly resolved based on how Camps’ character Nicole reacts. In the synopsis she’s painted to be “bewildered and betrayed.” Let’s hope this doesn’t lead to a really tired shot of a tub of ice cream and bottle of wine. You have to earn that, writers.
Issue Three: Lady Lawyer
C’moooooooooon writers! Women make great lawyers on television because we’re good at arguing right? LULZZZZZZ. It’s a little tired to have a type-A lady lawyer who can’t hold a man because she’s too power-hungry. Not only is it a damaging stereotype, it’s also played out.
But let’s take a look at our favorite funny women starring in comedies: Diaz and Santiago on Brooklyn Nine-Nine give us two New Yory cops that are tough, over-achieving and emotionally vulnerable. Dr. Mindy Lahiri on the Mindy Project is the mult-faceted, super-feminine and unapologetic partner of her practice. Jessica Day on New Girl is a dedicated teacher whose relationships are the core of her universe. And Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation is a politician who never ever let’s pessimism get in the way of her goals. Cops, Doctors, Teachers, and Politicians...I ‘spose there’s room for a lawyer in comedy land, eh?
Issue Four: Sexual Politics
I always get a bit squirmy when I hear a series is aiming to unpick the cuh-raaaazy world of sex and dating us twenty and thirtysomethings are trying to navigate. Because sometimes it goes to terrible places like Mixology and the world is a really bad place to be in. Series also have a tendency to show people who are either having sex all of the time and are sad or never having sex and are sad... because relationships, marriages and babies are the only way you can be happy, ladies!
But you know, sex. Sometimes you can see it from a show’s pilot who is going to shack up with who (New Girl), and sometimes a series will totally surprise and delight its audience by an unlikely pairing (Friends). Maybe this Nicole character will be the brutally honest female protagonist who has bad dates, has some great sex, gets her feelings hurt, hurts someone else’s feelings, and still loves who she is at the end of the day. Please.