Far from oppressed: TV shows where women seem marginalized but aren’t

Yahoo Contributor Network

Some of the most popular shows on TV today are set in places or times where women are marginalized. Some shows are period pieces, set during times before women had the right to vote or own property. Others are set in fantastic worlds, where women are brutalized and disrepected daily.

But there's something funny about these shows: Female TV fans love them. That's because, despite the fact that so many of these shows portray a woman's life negatively, they feature strong female characters who have managed to become powerful. Here are some prime examples of TV shows where female characters seem marginalized but aren't.

"The Borgias"

The world of "The Borgias" is hardly friendly to women. Lucrezia must marry at the whim of her father, simply to forge political alliances. Women may come from powerful families, but they rarely have power themselves. The one possible exception seems to be Caterina Sforza, but in actuality, many other female characters on the show have power.

Vannozza is famously able to slap the Pope in the pilot episode: An act that would get pretty much anyone else (especially a man) into serious trouble. As for Lucrezia, though she may often be used as a pawn in her father's schemes, she has true power of her own: She can get a cardinal to hold her reigns and order a king to stop his attack, simply by virtue of her bearing. And let's not forget that the "Beautiful Deception" of the cannons was made possible by the craft of Vittoria, a female artist.

"Game of Thrones"

Women are beaten and killed in "Game of Thrones," and it's not a very good place to live if you're a member of the fairer sex. But for some women, it is possible to carve out some power in this harsh, unrelenting landscape. Catelyn Stark and Cersei Baratheon are able to use their positions to build good lives for their families, while witches like Mirri Maz Duur and Melisandre use magical powers to establish true power and standing.

More telling, "Game of Thrones" presents a world where any woman can become powerful, no matter what her upbringing. There is arguably no woman more meek than Dany in Season 1, but by Season 2 and going into Season 3, she is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

"Downton Abbey"

Despite the fact that "Downton" is set during a time where women can't inherit property or vote, the show features plenty of women with power. Most notably, Cora has a great deal of power due to her immense wealth. That wealth gave her the ability to marry whoever she wanted and gained her more power in the form of a title. Later, she loses control of that money, but that was her choice to make.

While characters like Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore are the masters of their own small domains, the Dowager Countess is so powerful, she can bend nearly any person at Downton to her will, regardless of their gender or social status.

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