There have been huge triumphs for diversity and strong female characters in television over the past few years, especially with Jane the Virgin, Transparent, Orange Is the New Black, and How to Get Away With Murder's award wins this year alone. But one show with an incredibly diverse cast may have flown under your radar: USA Network's Sirens, which premieres Season 2 on Tuesday, Jan. 27. At first glance, the comedy centered around a trio of EMTs who goof off and crack dirty jokes in their ambulance may not seem like the ideal show for female viewers, but it's much more than its occasionally-raunchy material.
Not only does Sirens pass the Bechdel Test, but it does so with flying colors. The show includes great female EMTs like Valentina/"Voodoo" (Kelly O'Sullivan), Claire/"Stats" (Maura Kidwell), and their boss Kathy/"Mac" (Kirsten Fitzgerald), plus totally badass female cop Theresa (Jessica McNamee), and their conversations are rarely about men. Even though Theresa is dating one of the lead guys, Johnny (Michael Mosley), an episode never centers completely around their relationship drama, and she often has more power than he does in their lines of work. When I headed to the Chicago set in November, the cast revealed both why they think the show appeals to women and how Sirens is giving us well-rounded, strong female characters on a weekly basis.
When it comes to the main relationship on the show with Johnny and Theresa, there's no doubt that she wears the pants. "She's more of the guy ... we had a couple of scenes where the quintessential roles have been reversed, and Mike [Mosley] and I always have fun playing with that," portrayer Jessica McNamee explains. She and Mosley also both told stories about an upcoming Season 2 scene in which a mysterious knock at the door in the middle of the night sends her to the rescue. "Johnny's instinct was immediately, 'I'll go to the door first.' But she's like, 'I'm the cop — no!' So she goes to the door and I'm behind her," Mosley says with a laugh. When it comes to describing Theresa, McNamee puts it simply: "She's just a cool chick, she's kind of badass, and I think she knows it, which is fun." In fact, if the couple does settle down later in life, she pictures Theresa heading off to pursue her FBI dreams while Johnny is a stay-at-home dad.
It isn't just the women on the show praising the female-centric storylines. Kevin Daniels, who plays EMT Hank, appreciates that "it's not [women] just constantly talking about a dude — it's real and it's great." Kevin Bigley, who plays sweet and slightly effeminate EMT Brian, adds that "there are female-driven characters and female-driven plot lines and more of a female voice," mostly in part to fantastic head writer Annabel Oakes and co-creator Bob Fisher "writing really well for women." What also sets Sirens apart is that there is no cattiness or drama between co-workers — especially when it comes to females who could be competitive. "It's great to have two women in a workplace that are completely supportive of each other," Kelly O'Sullivan (Voodoo) says. "[The show] is so funny and has such a heart to it as well, and I don't think it's a bunch of dudes being dicks."
Maura Kidwell (Claire) also appreciates that women aren't degraded or objectified, whether in the way they dress or in sex scenes. (By the way, there aren't many of those — the only one so far has been a funny one with Johnny and Theresa in Season 1.) "It's nice to not have a character centered around sex. I wear a uniform that is cute, but it's not like my boobs are showing," Kidwell explains. "And makeup is so simple. I get to be funny and I don't have to be sexy. That's cool." McNamee does point out that she does show off Theresa's feminine side sometimes because that's advice she got from real women on the force, though. "[Female cops say] they're in these oversized unflattering outfits all day, so they make sure at times to put a bit of a feminine twist on that by having nice nails or having good hair. It sounds ridiculous to say out loud, but ... it's to kind of keep their feminine identity."
Overall, Sirens will remind everyone of themselves in some way as these characters deal with the ups and downs of their personal and professional lives, but it will especially hit home for women in these careers themselves. "I think the female characters on this show — EMTs, police officers, and women in those jobs — are hard asses," Kidwell concludes. "They work hard, they're strong, they see a lot of hard things, and deal with all sorts of stuff. In a way it's a shout out to women in those professions."
Sirens airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA Network. Season 2 premieres on Jan. 27.
Images: USA Network (3)