Really Smart Women Are Different Than Really Smart Men, At Least On TV
Lisa Carnochan

I don’t often watch shows that feature the insufferable genius trope. I couldn’t stand House. I don’t care for Sherlock BBC. I’m not a fan of The Big Bang Theory either. I hated the book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so I never saw the movie.

My favorite TV series of all time is The X-Files. One of the two main characters, Fox Mulder, suffers from that syndrome. If he was the only draw, I’d never have gotten hooked on the show, but his FBI partner, Dana Scully, is an M.D., a forensic pathologist. She is just as smart as Mulder and equally complex. Another favorite is Fringe, also on the Fox Network, which featured a lead character with special abilities, Olivia Dunham. The genius character on The Magicians, Alice Quinn, is female. The genius characters on Orphan Black are all scientists, all unique individuals. None fit the insufferable genius trope and about half of them are women. The lead character in Madame Secretary is female, obviously. I don’t know that her IQ is in the 180 range but she manages okay. So does the Russian spy who is impersonating an American wife and mom, Elizabeth Jennings, in The Americans.

I’m not saying you’re wrong about the characters on TBBT. Certainly there should be more series with lead characters who are smart women. In the meantime, I avoid watching shows that don’t have well-drawn, intelligent, interesting female characters. Maybe we have different taste, but in the Golden Age of television, it’s not that hard to find alternatives.

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