There's a scene in the pilot of Bitten that makes me despair for the tone of the show and how it's gonna handle women/the lead. Not plot-related spoilers below the cut, spoilers might happen in comments.
It's exactly the sort of thing I am prone to reading too much into, but it's also the sort of thing I care a lot about, especially when it comes to pervasive attitudes and expectations of women. And their capabilities and interests.
The scene goes as such:
With her wolfy hearing, protagonist hears a guy in an upscale hotel bar make a bet he'll get her into bed. He then makes his play by sending over drinks and a hotel key card, and she goes over to reject him in person. She snips at him for being rude and presumptuous, but he brushes off her disdain, and as she turns to walk away, he grabs her wrist.
She turns and does a super-takedown, putting him in a shoulder lock. Everyone's surprised, guy backs off, and she has the following (paraphrased) conversation with her best friend:
BF: Why do you know how to do that? In my experience there's only one reason why a woman would..
Lupita: Oh, yes, I have a secret pain borne of physical abuse.
BF: Okay, that explains everything.
Yeah, I know, I paraphrased. But the friend jumping to the weird position that there's only one reason a woman fights that well is one thing—it's a character opinion. The tacit acceptance by the protagonist could be a) the show's endorsement of the pov, or b) just the character's endorsement. But either way, no likey.
But the man grabbed her! Admittedly, I think the conversation they'd had plus the grab was wrist-lock worthy, not shoulder, but since she'd heard all the plans and has impulse control issues, I can see the escalation. Just...own that it was a bad situation. Own that you can protect yourself physically from someone putting their hands on you—you didn't kill or damage him. You told him to stop and not start again in a "voice" loud enough for him to hear. YOU DON'T NEED TO EXCUSE THAT.
She's very pliant and reactive. Giving your supernatural hero a troubled past rife with suffering is de rigeur—but she seems controlled by hers in a way that makes her character absolutely unempathic to me—and I don't know if her journey is going to be to stop whining (I watch Supernatural—I have high whine tolerance) or if her reluctance to embrace physical or psychological strength is going to be an ongoing thing.
Because our TV protagonists don't change much. Their circumstances might change, but when it comes to learning lessons, it's slow going even with a therapist. And say she does become the sort of person who doesn't see lycanthropy as being a curse. Does that mean she'll also be the same sort of person who thinks a woman can fight for a number of reasons? Will she become a person who's not controlled by the loudest recent noise in their history?
And no matter the scope of the opinions of victimhood, there's a tone being set here. It's not a strong tone—she's, I guess, a Strong woman, but we don't know yet if she's a strong woman.
(I know one kind of woman who fights really well—women who enjoy it. Some of them came to it from a history of abuse or violence against them, but I've never seen even half of the gobsmacking conversation they had.)
(I'm not saying she doesn't exist¹. I'm not even saying stories shouldn't be told about her. But I do think that messages should be qualified, and what comes in a pilot should be either tone or hook, and that felt like former rather than latter to me.)
(This is also exacerbated by Vandervoort's doe eyes slightly self-deprecating body language—but those alone I'd cheerfully chalk up to 'characteristics' and 'room to grow'. The whole package, however...)
So—what did that look like to someone who's not thinking of fighting and womanhood 24/7? Am I asking too much of a female character? Am I trying to make her a man with breasts? Am I obsessed with hitting things and jealous of her wolfy power? Am I displacing because I want her wardrobe?
¹: Lycanthropy, metaphor schmetaphor