If you’re not watching the USA Network show Mr. Robot, you really need to catch up immediately (there are just two episodes left in season two and the show has been renewed for a third). Why? The simple answer: the ladies kick ass.
Mr. Robot centers around Elliot, who works for a cyber security company by day and is a vigilante hacker by night. He suffers from social anxiety and depression, and struggles to cope on a daily basis. He is recruited by the mysterious Mr. Robot to join the hacktivist group fsociety, whose mission is to bring down the powerful corporation E Corp. Elliot’s unstable mental health paired with the overall raw depiction of the characters and their lives make Mr. Robot different from all the glorified portrayals of computer hacking that Hollywood churns out. Add to that some great commentary on diversity and gender, and we have ourselves an extremely smart and nuanced television series.
Two of the major female characters on Mr. Robot are Angela, Elliot’s childhood friend and coworker, and Darlene, a brilliant hacker and prominent member of fsociety. In season one, both women are supporting characters, helping to push the plot along from the sidelines as Elliot’s story takes front stage. Angela, who faces sexism working in the male-dominated tech field, comes off as demure but has a silent determination and strength that makes her fiercely independent. When Elliot tries to take matters into his own hands to “protect” Angela in a way that he believes a normal man might be expected to act towards women, she calls him out on it, directly critiquing the common male habit of patronizing women. Darlene also finds herself in a male-dominated culture as a hacker, and is extremely rough around the edges, maybe as a result. She is fearless and will not let anything stop her and fsociety from reaching their goals.
In season two, Elliot takes a bit of a back seat as his mental health and other issues keep him from contributing to fsociety’s work. Instead, the women become the primary forces that drive the plot of the season, and are able to step into the spotlight. Darlene has seemingly become the leader of fsociety, taking charge and continuing the work in Elliot’s absence. Meanwhile, Angela continues to pursue her personal revenge on E Corp from the corporate side, becoming more demanding and taking more risks. Season two also brings us a new female character, Dominique (or “Dom”), a tough, no-bullshit FBI agent who is investigating the hack performed by fsociety.
The victory of Mr. Robot and the reason I find it so great to watch is that all the characters, male and female alike, are treated basically the same. All are deeply flawed and deeply human, and not a single character is idealized or presented to the viewer as someone to necessarily be admired. Instead, they all make mistakes, they all get trampled at some times, and achieve great success at others. And unlike many shows or movies that use female or minority characters simply as objects that provide a random step in the main character’s progress, each character in Mr. Robot contributes directly to and is personally affected by the story as a whole.
Author: Patricia Thang
Reader of books, listener of podcasts, lover of dogs. Just trying to survive my twenties.