RogerBW's Blog

Wynonna Earp season 1 08 April 2017

2016 urban fantasy/horror, 13 episodes. Wynonna Earp, distant descendant of Wyatt, comes back to her home town to learn that her job in life is to send back to hell the revenants of the men who died by Earp's gun "Peacemaker".

Which could of course be a revenant-of-the-week story, but identifying them is the easy part: they're limited to the area round a particular town, and most of them seem to live in a trailer park under the leadership of one Bobo Del Rey. More important is finding out just which of them were involved in the killing of Wynonna's father and older sister back in the day, and even before that's solved there are more problems that need to be worked out.

There's also the question of Xavier Dolls, a US Marshal who seems to know something about this eldritch stuff, and a mysterious moustached man who might be another revenant, though there seems to be something different about him… but the principals are most definitely Wynonna and her younger sister Waverly, and in a television age that has a tendency to kill off its strong female characters if it allows them to exist in the first place that's not to be sniffed at. These aren't women to be put on pedestals: they kick ass at least as much as the men, they screw up in ways that are part of their characters, they're not just written as men who happen to look good in dresses, and… well, let's just note that out of these thirteen episodes, nine are written in whole or part by women. The makers of the revised Doctor Who claim there aren't enough female scriptwriters for them to use more than two in a season, and often they don't even get that many; they didn't have any at all until season three. Oh yeah, we believe you.

The show's not afraid to be sexy (though there's more beefcake than cheesecake here), and there's a particularly female-gazey episode when Dolls is repeatedly shirtless, the revenant of the week is involved in a gay relationship, and the maintenance workers Wynonna tries to distract with her body turn out to be female (and not gay). That's the kind of joke that most shows wouldn't even think of, never mind try to tell. Baby steps, but they're steps in the right direction.

The cast is mostly bit-players from the Canadian film and TV community: I hadn't heard of any of them before, but they all get the job done, with the leads possibly spurred on by knowing that this is their Big Chance.

Basically, this is much better than it has any right to be for what seems in concept like a loose ripoff of Supernatural. The showrunner is Emily Andras (who, no surprise, also worked extensively on Lost Girl, to which this owes a great deal of inspiration and style, and did a fair bit on season 2 of Killjoys). This show certainly isn't the be-all and end-all of dramatic television; it may not even be the best "Western plus X" show I've seen this year (though I've only watched the first episode of Westworld so far). But it's great to have enough female storytellers working on a show that they aren't distinguished solely by being "the one who's a woman", that they actually get some room to develop their individual styles, and the same applies to the characters.

The series has been renewed for another season.

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