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December 2, 2013

Quickie: Lizzy Caplan is bringing feminism back

I was flipping through the November 21 issue of Rolling Stone yesterday and saw a Q&A with Lizzy Caplan, star Showtime's much-talked-about series Masters of Sex. I've been a fan of Caplan's acting for a long time (ever since Freaks and Geeks to be honest, but also loved her in True Blood, Bachelorette and of course, Mean Girls) so of course, I'm happy that she's getting a chance to play a meaty role like Virgina Johnson in Masters of Sex.

After reading her Q&A I have to admit I love her even more. After Rob Tannenbaum baited her with "warning" about feminism, she didn't succumb to the usual misunderstood feminism-bashing that too many female stars have been doing lately:
The show takes place in 1956. Were you surprised by the differences between sexuality then and now?

Yes. It's strange to realize how much of my modern outlook on female sexuality was informed by a woman and a team of scientists I had not heard of. The world saw female sexuality as problematic and nowhere near as important as male sexuality. It's funny to think about [William] Masters [played by Michael Sheen] as a feminist icon, but he sort of is. It's certainly not what he set out to do, but the science, the truth, set a lot of women free.

Then again, a lot of the public reaction to your show has amounted to "OMG, boobies!" Maybe we aren't as sophisticated today as we think.

Big-time. It's glaringly obvious to me. Just the word "sex" makes people uncomfortable in America. I thought we might go through a period of people saying, "Oh, my God, this is exploiting women, look at all these breasts! It's just smut and porn." But people quickly figured out that it really is a feminist show and not just an excuse to show a bunch of titties. 

Careful. If you say it's a feminist show, some people won't watch.

But it's a feminist show with lots of boobies, so it's a win-win! And I've taken it upon myself to make "feminism" not a dirty word.
I'm not going to comment on whether Masters of Sex truly is a feminist show and I'm sure Caplan is an imperfect human being (like all human beings) so I won't necessarily put her up on a pedestal as a beacon of feminism based on one line... but I will say that making feminism not a dirty word is a great goal and I applaud her for owning the word, when so many others are afraid to do so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One thing I want to point out is to separate Caplin and Johnson. I don't think that women should be looking up to the Johnson character Lizzy plays although I do like Lizzy Caplin as an actress. If the show is accurate, Johnson lied about her education to get the job. Other woman who are qualified and applied and are not putting out are passed over for the job. Johnson is willing to have sex with married old creepy white guys in order to advance her career and that she does well. Michael Sheen is a decent looking person. If Showtime wanted to make the show more true to life they would have used Danny Devito as Masters.