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Author Topic: The upgrade of female characters  (Read 959 times)

Offline florapaw

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The upgrade of female characters
« on: November 05, 2019, 12:09:11 PM »
Alright so I’m pretty sure this hasn’t been talked about before as a topic but if it is just feed me to the alligators.

I really just want to hear opinions on how the female characters were handled in the miniseries. Do y’all like it? Do you not like it? Here, I’ll start us off with my opinion.

They sucked. Like, they each had their moments that were fine (and even though I love Clover even I have to admit she was a pretty pointless character a lot of the time) but overall I really hate how the female characters were upgraded just to be immediately downgraded.

I personally don’t have a problem with the way the female cast was handled in other adaptations because at least they acknowledged that female rabbits didn’t have as much agency as the male rabbits and just went with it. The miniseries? They stroked their ego about how they were doing the source material a favour by giving females some actual characters to rally around when really they just succeeded in making all their female characters lamps. They’re lamps! You could replace them with a collective pumpkin and nothing would change!

Strawberry was maybe the only good female character (please note that I mean good as in contributing to the wider story) because they never tried to push her past her limits. Clover (as much as I love you honey it has to be said) was a totally useless woman who’s only traits were:
1. Getting kidnapped
2. Stealing all of Hyzenthlay’s parts

Hyzenthlay was severely underused and I don’t know why they didn’t just get rid of her and straight up replace her with Clover. I really enjoyed Hyzenthlay in the book! She was epic in the film! But the miniseries replaces her harrowing story of survival with a love story.

Anyway as you can tell I have a lot of feelings about the way females were treated in this adaptation. It would have been better if they just left them how they were. It really must suck when your expensive Netflix show gets shown up by an animated children’s adaptation with having better female characters.

Offline Alderab

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2019, 03:48:31 PM »
You could replace them with a collective pumpkin and nothing would change!
Lol!  This would be a great abridged series.

 :frith Hooray for more miniseries discussion!  :frith While I don't have too many thoughts on does as a whole were handled the miniseries, I do like talking about a few of the individuals.

Clover was an interesting character, she went with practically no build-up to one of the two lead characters in episode three.  I did appreciate how she was able to give an outsider's perspective on what life in Efrafa was like, I think most stories need an outsider to stand in for the audience when a complex culture is being explained.  While this was easily handled by Bigwig in the film and the novel, I don't think having Clover there was a bad thing.  She gave a good perspective on the does, while Bigwig helped introduce the Owsla.  What I didn't like was the rushed romantic subplot between her and Hazel, but I feel he gets the worst of it.  Without much development, Clover becomes Hazel's every waking thought when they are apart.  And while I can hardly blame a buck for being lonely, it doesn't need to take up all of his limited screen time.  Clover on the other paw had some quality development while in Efrafa, without being absorbed on working her way back to Hazel.

Hyzenthlay I rather liked in this adaption.  Again, having seen this first, her role does feel more fleshed out in the miniseries than other iterations.  I think extra running time did give her more opportunities for characterization more than her rather subtle appearance in the film, although the film certainly did use her smaller screentime efficiently!  Her scene with Orchis went down reasonably enough, and I did think it was unconventional that she was willing to concede to him rather than the typical defiance to the end.  And that execution scene was just great.  Like Clover, I feel like her love story affected her buck back home more than herself, at least when they were apart.

Now for Strawberry, again, I'm not a fan of gender-flipping.  Just make her a different doe from Cowslip's warren, and don't recycle the name of an entirely different character.  I think it would have been much more interesting if in this retelling, it was Nildro-hain who had lost Strawberry to the snares, and thus she ran off to join the Watership rabbits. 

But as it was, Strawberry ( :strawberrydoe) was a fine enough character on her own  I do agree with you, Florapaw, that she filled a nice niche in the story, and made for some humorous scenes with Dandelion and Hawkbit.  She helped reinforce the need for Hazel & Co. to find more does by being the lone doe on the down.
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Offline florapaw

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2019, 08:46:37 PM »
Why do you think "2. Stealing all of Hyzenthlay’s parts"? Do you means Hyzen' would have been Hazel's mate? I could agree with that because the new pairings was too romantic but I could really enjoy it becasue this story is about emotions in the first place and then about rabbits/hares and I don't mind it.

I meant that in the sense that Clover got all of Hyzenthlay's important roles once she was in Efrafa. I actually did like Hyzenthlay in this series - she was tough and taking no one's shit - but Clover got all of her important parts in Efrafa. I think it just felt super disingenious to have Hyzenthlay, the most kickass woman bunny in the series, get all of her scenes with Bigwig replaced with Clover.

And I can see that everyone likes the characterisation of the lady buns in the series. That's totally fine, I'm not trying to tell you that you're wrong or anything - sometimes I don't articulate myself correctly and I come off as trying to tell you what to do, so I hope I haven't done that. But personally I'm really traditional when it comes to adapting media. Make it your own, do what you want with it, but all the changes have to make sense in the wider picture. I feel like many of the changes made to the does made no sense whatsoever.

And I agree with you Inle-roo; the Hazel-Clover relationship felt so weird compared to the much better Hyzenthlay-Holly relationship.

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2019, 09:05:17 PM »
I LOVE FEMALE STRAWBERRY :strawberrydoe She's the best, she has a cute design, a great personality, and Olivia Coleman does a good job despite the crying.  When the gender swap was first announced back in 2016, several people found that she was a weird character to switch because of male Strawberry's limited role in the book.  If they were to gender-swap some characters, why not go for a more important character, like they did with Blackberry in the 1999 series?  And even then, they still managed to downplay here until suddenly Campy.

These predictions turned out to be largely accurate.  Strawberry mostly vanishes for the second half of the miniseries.  The only notable thing she does is being part of the love triangle with Hawkbit and Dandelion, which feels a lot like the Heather subplot in the 1999 series (nope, Tom Bidwell totally didn't watch the other adaptations when writing his screenplay, totally nop :sarcasm).  In the end Strawberry, like Heather, chooses a third option, in this case Bigwig.  But the relationship lacks any buildup; here's something that could have been done to improve this:
Or she'll save Bigwig from the snare, and when she thinks he's dead she'll confess her love for him and Bigwig will be like "yo, I'm not dead"

I think it would have been much more interesting if in this retelling, it was Nildro-hain who had lost Strawberry to the snares, and thus she ran off to join the Watership rabbits.
That's actually a pretty interesting idea.

I'm a bit short on time at the moment, so I'll respond regarding the other does later on.  Great thread Flora.
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Offline Hammy

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2019, 09:23:21 PM »
I'mma slide in here and back up the dislike of the female characters in the miniseries. Frankly, most of them felt really forced to me.

Clover is- I just don't think there was much to her, except being nice and hot apparently and maaaybe smart? She's somewhere on the border of smart and naive. Even discounting previous incarnations, I thought that she adapted waay too quickly to wild life, especially compared to the other hutch rabbits. And taking Fiver's role in seeking out Hazel? No, no, no, no, NO. Dare I say, she felt kinda Mary Sue-ish. Not completely so, but borderline.

I don't like what they did with Hyzenthlay. I think I've mentioned on here before that I thought she got nerfed way too hard, and just came off as pathetic and depressing. I could be misremembering, but that's kinda the problem, I barely remember her doing anything. Much of that role was given to Clover, again, feeding into that borderline Sue-ishness I mentioned before. Hyzenthlay was ready to give up before Clover, if I remember correctly, and that's just inconceivable to me. Hyzenthlay should be soft-spoken but iron-willed, and seeing her like this just hurts me.

I really like the idea of Nildro-hain losing Strawberry instead of just making Strawberry a doe. It's more personal, but I really didn't like miniseries Strawberry. She fell very much into that vaguely quirky and weird trope that seems to be the default personality for female characters now. There's nothing really wrong with her, but she had such a small role that I didn't think it mattered one way or the other.

The only character who I thought was kinda interesting was Nettle, and even then, barely anything was done with her, or any of the Efrafan does for that matter.

Having said all this, I think I do need to rewatch the miniseries to be absolutely sure of all this, but that's my opinion as things stand.

Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2019, 11:45:04 PM »
I see two main problems with Hyzenthlay in the miniseries.  Firstly, as has already been mentioned, Clover takes over most of her scens (and also one of Fiver's scenes).

Secondly, inconsistency.  She is mentioned as being the leader of the does and very strong-willed, but displays neither.  She completely breaks down, and Clover becomes the leader.  Also, she lacks the second sight, which she had in the book, the film, and the radio drama.

The film did a good job with her, she has a great design and they totally nailed her personality.  Richard Adams expressed dissatisfaction with the 1978 film in more recent interviews, but he also mentioned a few times that he liked the film's depiction of Hyzenthlay.  Adding her to the dog run at the end is a small change but it works perfectly.

Another thing I find weird is the romance with Holly.  They really didn't interact all that much during his brief time in Efrafa, nor do I remember Holly giving any indication of his feelings until much later.  Hyzenthlay interacts a bit more with Bluebell, but that never would have worked out, his real love is Blackberry :blackberryminiseries The romance just feels thrown in to give Hyzenthlay something to do, since Clover took care of all the important stuff in Efrafa.

As for Thethuthinnang, it's great that she finally showed up in an adaptation; too bad she didn't really do much, although I rather liked her song.  Her relationship with Hyzenthlay remains the most interesting thing about her, as well as some great shipping fuel :thethuthinnang
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Offline Alderab

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2019, 05:22:34 AM »
I don't feel that Hyzenthlay really cedes her leadership role to Clover in the miniseries.  She consistently seems to be the face of the other Efrafan does, and when the Watership rabbits interact with them it generally seems to be through her.   Orchis mentioning that she is a ringleader seems believable in context of her consistently being punished.  In the end, it is her that Nettle turns to assuage her guilt towards the group at large.  Clover certainly steps up when Hyzenthlay was having her sentence carried out, but even then she is mostly a second-in-command to Bigwig.

As far as having a strong will, I don't think her eventual fit of despair automatically negates Hyzenthlay as a determined character.  She just had her seemingly last hope of escape dashed when Bigwig's first plan fails, she knows that she has an imminent death sentence, and she has to deal with the fact that one of the does she had striven to do so much for is an informer.  I think it would be more unnatural if she didn't start to strain under the load.  It made their predicament seem more dire to me than if she just shrugged everything off and said "ah well, try again tomorrow."  Not saying that other adaptions played her this flippantly, but the miniseries seemed to spend more time building up her trials, and made her reaction more suiting.

Another thing I find weird is the romance with Holly.  They really didn't interact all that much during his brief time in Efrafa, nor do I remember Holly giving any indication of his feelings until much later.

I agree, though rapid development does seem par for the course with movie relationships.
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Offline florapaw

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2019, 11:15:51 AM »
As much as I absolutely dislike how Clover and Hyzenthlay were portrayed, I will say that I really honestly enjoyed Strawberry, Nettle and Thethuthinnang! As I said before in regards to Strawberry, they never try to play these characters up to something they’re not - Clover isn’t a good character once she steals the entire Bright Eyes scene (which definitely should have been Fiver finding Hazel with the song playing over it smh) and Hyzenthlay is sort of just eh. Not bad, but not good.

The writers understood Strawberry was mostly comic relief, and even if she wasn’t necessarily funny, they didn’t try to make her do some sad heartbreaking scene because they knew she wasn’t good for it. Thethuthinnang got to be a character who played her role and that was it, and Nettle was only in it when she was needed. They got that these characters didn’t play a huge role and really, Hyzenthlay and Clover should have been on par with them.

Side note: I felt weird witnessing the overtly feminist tones the creators went for with Clover and Hyzenthlay. I don’t know, it just felt weird how they were so in the audiences face with the whole “slavery is bad women are strong powerful women!”. I love the song 10,000 Enemies but it was such a weird song to include! Maybe I’m just against morals getting shoved in your face, who knows. Am I the only one who felt that way lmao?

Offline Alderab

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2019, 03:52:32 PM »
Side note: I felt weird witnessing the overtly feminist tones the creators went for with Clover and Hyzenthlay. I don’t know, it just felt weird how they were so in the audiences face with the whole “slavery is bad women are strong powerful women!”. I love the song 10,000 Enemies but it was such a weird song to include! Maybe I’m just against morals getting shoved in your face, who knows. Am I the only one who felt that way lmao?

I'm almost always against preachy movies, and I certainly see where you are coming from.  For whatever reason, I don't feel like this adaption had an overly blatant agenda.  Maybe I was just too caught up in the story about cute bunnies and their quaint culture that I didn't focus on the allegories often made of it?  Maybe I will more now that I've seen it a couple times.  Again, my opinion, I didn't feel like the modern trope of a "strong" (arrogant, loud, obstinate) female character was used for any of the does.  Though by that standard, I guess the miniseries Bigwig was quite the "strong" character.   :p  Clover seemed hopeful, naive, and even a bit Sue-ish, but not a rebellious Valkyrie princess smiting down the Efrafa patriarchy. 

10,000 Enemies can definitely be seen a lot of ways, but in the end the does didn't free themselves as it seemed to be leading up to, it was Bigwig coming to beat up the guards similar to the book.   The last verse in the full version of the song doesn't really gel with the tone of the rest, but I guess the lyrics are still decent.  I liked to focus more on the theme it portrayed of rabbits being their own worst enemy even though they had countless others.

I swear I'm not trying to disagree with you on everything, Flora, you make some great points!  :D
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Offline florapaw

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2019, 06:07:41 PM »
Hey, don’t worry! Disagreeing with me left right and centre is only forcing me to be a better debater!

But I can see what you mean. On its own 10,000 Enemies is a really good song, but yeah I just really hate being preached at in films and shows. It also felt odd to have the moral, or whatever the more fitting word is, of the song was to point out that “inprisoning women is bad!” Like that’s a fairly obvious message, right?

I never payed much attention to how the scene ended though. I’m normally busting myself with other things while it’s on. Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense why they’d have such an empowering song just to have the women saved by another strong man.

Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2019, 02:48:50 AM »
Eh, I don't know.  Hyzenthlay already seemed pretty depressed even before the first escape attempt failed.  I would probably have to watch the miniseries again to pay closer attention to this.  But while she was my favourite charcter in the books and film, in the miniseries she failed to make a strong impression on me.

I agree, though rapid development does seem par for the course with movie relationships.
I haven't seen any recent romantic movies.  But with the extended running time, some of the relationships in the miniseries could have used some more buildup.  But then the 1999 series did the exact same thing, rushing through the romance and love at first sight.  The book didn't have much romance, but the few couples mentioned at least had some chemistry beforehand.

(which definitely should have been Fiver finding Hazel with the song playing over it smh)
Fully agreed.  This is one of the few things the film did better than any other adaptations, i think.

Regarding the 10,000 Enemies song, it doesn't really seem like an overly feminist song in itself.  In the context where it is used in the miniseries, sure, but it also could have fit in well in a dark movie about a prison riot, I think.  A full riot in Efrafa between the owsla and the outskirters could have been very interesting actually.  Alderab and Flora make a valid point though, that any feminist undertones the song may have had are kinda negated by the eventual outcome of the scene.

Also, another character that hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet: Dewdrop.  She wasn't in the book, or any other adaptation, and in the miniseries she feels so.  Very.  Pointless.  All she does is give Hazel a reason to get mad at Fiver at Cowslip's warren.  At which point it is revealed that she told the owsla about Hazel's plan to leave Sandleford, something we never actually saw happen...
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Offline Alderab

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2019, 04:33:01 AM »
Eh, I don't know.  Hyzenthlay already seemed pretty depressed even before the first escape attempt failed.  I would probably have to watch the miniseries again to pay closer attention to this.  But while she was my favourite charcter in the books and film, in the miniseries she failed to make a strong impression on me.

We could just be remembering different things.  Maybe we just need to have a forum-wide Let's Watch of the miniseries, then we could have a REAL debate.  :D

Also, another character that hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet: Dewdrop.  She wasn't in the book, or any other adaptation, and in the miniseries she feels so.  Very.  Pointless.  All she does is give Hazel a reason to get mad at Fiver at Cowslip's warren.  At which point it is revealed that she told the owsla about Hazel's plan to leave Sandleford, something we never actually saw happen...

Ooh, thanks for bringing her up, I forgot about Dewdrop.  I think Hazel's angst over her is probably contributed to my impression that Hazel is lovestruck for most of the series, bleeding over into his relationship with Clover.  I don't really know the point of her either, perhaps it was to show that the leaving rabbits at least tried to bring along some other does? 

It's interesting how each adaption handles this departure differently.  In the book, does simply don't show up.  In the film, EVERYONE seems to try to leave Sandleford after Fiver's warning, but most get caught by the Owsla or a passing hawk.  In the miniseries, they are simply refused, and possibly betrayed by the does that they ask.
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Offline florapaw

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2019, 12:14:57 PM »
Dang I totally forgot about Dewdrop too. She really had no point. Maybe it serves to show how desperate Hazel is for love, considering how quickly he attached himself to Clover.

I too find it interesting how each adaptation interprets the Gang leaving Sandleford! Although I don’t quite like how the film handles it; why show such a big group of characters leaving just for so many to be snatched back up? Maybe that’s just petty of me, who knows. But i will say that, to my recollection so I might be wrong, the miniseries handles it well. There’s a sort of urgency to it that was in the novel. I liked seeing how time sensitive the whole escape is :)

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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2019, 06:41:06 AM »
In the film it looked more like a younger Buzzard grabbed Violet instead a Goshawk because of his/her brown feathers. Intersting because Common Buzzards mostly hunt small mammals and a few viewers saw Buzzards tring to catch young rabbits. As I remember correctly in the movie Violet was kind of young.

Huh, I didn't remember whether we actually got a shot of the bird, I thought it was a pan away.  But hey, Violet's a doe who got upgraded into existence from the novel, we could talk about her!

I thought it was odd that she was added, only to be axed in the first act.  Maybe the idea was the same as the miniseries, that the gang actually tried to bring a doe along and it just didn't work out?  I suppose they tried to bring the whole warren along.  Her death does ruin Hazel's novel record of leading the whole group to the down without casualties, but I supposed it was put in to emphasize how dangerous the journey was in a more condensed way.
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Re: The upgrade of female characters
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2019, 07:12:47 AM »
We could just be remembering different things.  Maybe we just need to have a forum-wide Let's Watch of the miniseries, then we could have a REAL debate.  :D
The Let's Watch idea is pretty great, especially with the one-year anniversary of the initial release coming up :pipkin

I think Hazel's angst over her is probably contributed to my impression that Hazel is lovestruck for most of the series, bleeding over into his relationship with Clover.
Hazel does indeed appear to spend most of the series crazy with love.

Don't forget the TV-series how they hadle it so well and detailed. By the way a like the TV version but that skipping, eh.
I have the feeling that they skipped it so they wouldn't have to show Fiver's nightmarish vision of a field covered with blood.  Although, they ended up showing something like that in The Homecoming anyway...

Also, interestingly, a video game based on the 1999 series shows Sandleford.

In the film it looked more like a younger Buzzard grabbed Violet instead a Goshawk because of his/her brown feathers. Intersting because Common Buzzards mostly hunt small mammals and a few viewers saw Buzzards tring to catch young rabbits. As I remember correctly in the movie Violet was kind of young.
I'm...really not a bird specialist :katerina One thing I wonder though: was it Violet who screeched when she got grabbed, or was it the bird?

Violet being young could perhaps make sense; if I remember correctly, she was around Fiver's size.

Maybe it serves to show how desperate Hazel is for love, considering how quickly he attached himself to Clover.
Hazel really is crazy with love.

Although I don’t quite like how the film handles it; why show such a big group of characters leaving just for so many to be snatched back up?
It is rather weird.  Perhaps contributing to this is the fact that the film doesn't show Hazel and Fiver recruiting others; immediately after they leave the Threarah, we cut to the departure, while the book explained how everyone ended up joining.

Also weird is that among the rabbits captured was a doe with very young kittens.  At their age, they would never have been able to travel long distances like all the others.

One thing I have to wonder though, about the miniseries: were any other does invited to join, apart from Dewdrop?  As far as I remember, no others were mentioned, and Hazel probably asked her only because of his (one-sided) crush.

I thought it was odd that she was added, only to be axed in the first act.  Maybe the idea was the same as the miniseries, that the gang actually tried to bring a doe along and it just didn't work out?  I suppose they tried to bring the whole warren along.  Her death does ruin Hazel's novel record of leading the whole group to the down without casualties, but I supposed it was put in to emphasize how dangerous the journey was in a more condensed way.
Violet feels...kinda bland, I think.  She hardly does anything while alive, at one point she says that she's "never been in the woods before" (neither has anyone else, except Bigwig) and she also mentions that the lendri had blood on its lips (in the book it was Blackberry who said that).

After her death, she is never mentioned again, not even when Hazel points out they have no does (Hazel did mention Nildro-hain in the book).  She is not mentioned in the credits either.  She is also never mentioned in the film picture book (although she shows up once or twice in scenes featuring the whole crowd).

At least her death wasn't bloody, unlike Blackavar's :violet
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