The Name of the Show
On Sunday, we posted this entry with the name of the show and so more reasons why Melinda Gordon is such a strong character.
As Johann Hari says, the only place we see strong female characters these days is in the science fiction or fantasy genera. And that is the case here. The show is "Ghost Whisperer" starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as its single lead character, Melinda Gordon. The prejudice seems to be "beauty and talent are mutually exclusive things" or more specifically in Ms Hewitt's case "anyone with boobs like that can't have any brains."
If you are not familiar with the show, Melinda is a medium who can communicate with earthbound spirits -- the ghost of people who have been trapped on earth because they have unfinished business with the living. Melinda acts as their interpreter so they can finish this business and cross over to the other side (e.g., heaven, nirvana, or the happy hunting ground). Their business is essentially grief resolution and so what Melinda does parallels the grief work terminally ill patients and their families must do. And often like the spirits, the terminally ill cannot be heard either because they literally cannot speak or their family will not let them speak of their impending death. By moving the situation to another plane the serious problems of dealing with grief can be looked at in new and interesting ways.
The episodes unfold as mystery stories. But instead of solving a crime, Melinda must help the spirits resolve their problems. Like a good detective, she usually succeeds. Also like a good detective, it is how she gets from the problem to the solution more then the final resolution that matters the most. While getting there, her work is complicated by uncooperative spirits, disbelieving family members and the mysterious dark spirits who work against her in this Manichean world. The work is emotionally draining which only such a strong character could endure.
Unlike many of today's TV's female characters, Melinda's life outside her calling is under control if complicated (unlike the mess of Lilly Rush on "Cold Case"). She is married to a supportive man but not because she needs him to hold her up (unlike Brenda Leigh Johnson on "The Closer"). It's as if on these other shows a lead female character is not allowed to be a complete person. Melinda has few friends because she realizes being her friend can be difficult and dangerous. But those she has stand by her despite the risk. And she in turn tries not to use them too much.
If you haven't seen it yet, check out this well written, produced and acted show.