Editor’s note: spoilers for season one of “Westworld”
HBO’s series about a western-themed park is full of incredibly realistic robots that are almost indistinguishable from humans. Rich men and women will vacation to the “wild west” by entering a park where they can have whatever kind of adventures they want, whether it be taking souvenir pictures in period costumes or murdering with impunity. At first glance, this show is pretty horrific to women. There are robots that are there just to be prostitutes or be raped, basically whatever the vacationers want to do to them.
That’s where this show gets a little tricky. On the one hand, you are horrified by what you’re seeing, but on the other it’s kinda of okay because they are just robots… right? But then the show starts to blur the lines between the two.
1. Mauve (Thandie Newton)
The madam of the whore house starts to become aware of her days, and realizes that she is caught in a continual loop. So, she takes charge and gets a bandit to cut into her to show that she wasn’t imagining it. This scene is incredibly badass. First, she is a woman of color in charge of this whore house but then she starts to fight back and gets incredibly vicious by the end of season one. She is strong, but she also has a strong attachment to a child she had in a past storyline and this grounds her. She is a hot, and fabulous character even for being a robot. This is shown through the worker’s fascination with her and their ability to speak with her like she is a normal human being.
2. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood)
This female robot character starts the show as the typical western damsel in distress or the girl next door. She is beautiful and hopelessly naive about her life. It is only when Bernard talks to her that she starts to become more aware and realizes that she is not a kind person. She is a mixture of another character, and without saying too much about the plot, she is an incredible character. She goes through her loop and then recognizes change and starts to defend herself. When she realizes that she seems to get raped in the same place, this woman hides a gun in that spot for herself, and later she learns to shoot the gun. She is the epitome of a woman discovering herself and who she is, through the eyes of the wild west.
3. Charlotte (Tessa Thompson)
This human being is probably one of the strongest black female characters on TV right now. She heads the shareholders of this huge franchise, and is unapologetically sexual and sneaky in her attempts to secure the park from Ford. She is strong and assertive and very honest with herself about who she is. She is a decisive and powerful executive, not losing her footing even when Ford tries to undermine her authority. She is completely outright with her plans and flat out borrows a robot to have sex with and shows absolutely no remorse or embarrassment about it. She is confident and in power, which is a great thing to see portrayed on TV with a woman as opposed to a man.
4. Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen)
Another woman in charge! Therese initiates her relationship with Bernard and runs an entire department of the park. She is less assertive than Charlotte, but she is still an authoritative presence until her untimely death. She doesn’t fall under any of the negative stereotypes usually attributed to women in positions of power on TV. She is not afraid to stand up to Ford and is the only character who smokes. She is who she is and she is okay with that. she decides to break things off with Bernard and she decides to take a stand against her boss.
While there is a lot of sex and rape in this show, it is important to notice the steps forward they have been making and how they use these elements for a purpose. Two of the four women mentioned here are women of color and that is something we need to see more of. This show is an incredible and interesting look at humanity through development as well as humans’ darker desires, and I can’t wait for season two!