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NBC takes a step forward in gender and race representation with Revolution

On September 17, NBC aired its newest television series Revolution. The premise of the show is pretty simple: One day, every single piece of technology completely blacks out, permanently. Fifteen years later on the outskirts of Chicago, families are living feudally, relying on farming and hunting to sustain themselves. We learn that Ben Matheson may know the secret behind the blackout, but he is executed by militia forces and his son, Danny, is kidnapped. It is up to Charlie Matheson, Danny’s sister, to save him, and hopefully help discover the secret behind the blackout. You can read a full description and check out the cast here.

The show did an iffy job regarding issues of gender. Initially, Charlie is depicted as a strong, adventure-seeking female protagonist. Since age four, it has been her duty to protect her younger brother, a refreshing role-reversal for those of us so accustomed to the big brother/little sister paradigm. However, immediately after meeting up with her Uncle Miles for help, she takes a back seat to his brash agenda and developed fighting skills. Also, the official leaders of the post-blackout society — Captain Neville, General Monroe, and Nate Walker — are, as far as we’ve seen, all men.

But, throughout the course of the first and second episodes, we are introduced to two pretty bad-ass female characters: Nora and Grace. Nora, a patriot fighting for the restoration of America as it once was, can build guns from scratch and wield a firearm like a well-seasoned soldier. Grace, on the other hand, has somehow managed to build a functioning pseudo-computer in the wake of the blackout — and likely holds the key to the future of the country.

In terms of racial diversity, Revolution did a far better job than many weekly series on major television networks. The eleven-member main cast features a male and female African-American, a Latino male, and a female of Puerto Rican/Peruvian descent. It could have been more inclusive — where are the Asian cast members, for example? — but Revolution is certainly an improvement on the fully white, cookie-cutter casts many weekly series seem to favor.

What about you? What did you think of Revolution? (If you haven’t had a chance to catch it on TV, you can stream it for free on nbc.com!) The next episode airs on October 4.

Hailey Magee is a Women’s and Gender Studies and Politics double major at Brandeis University. Her foremost interests include media literacy and empowerment of young girls. Hailey hopes to one day pursue a career in the political arena and become an advocate for gender equality.

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