[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com

Women Behaving Badly: Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace, the Cocky, Troublemaking Pilot From 'Battlestar Galactica'

By Erik McClanahan for Indiewire.com

Katee Sackhoff in 'Battlestar Galactica'SYFY

Editor's Note: The TV landscape is filled with male antiheroes, from Nicholas Brody to Walter White, but what about the women? This is part two of a series of five articles exploring flawed female protagonists and how their bad behavior makes them so interesting to watch. It's presented in partnership with Netflix and its new original series "Orange is the New Black" (all episodes available July 11th, only on Netflix).

Before it ever aired on TV, Syfy's reimagining of "Battlestar Galactica" had an uphill battle to fight. Many fans of the original, 1978 version -- a rote and admittedly cheesy "Star Wars" knockoff -- were not happy when it was announced that one of the show's most popular characters would go from a womanizing, anti-authoritarian, cocky, cigar-chomping gambler, drinker and all around badass fighter pilot dude to a (wait for it)... anti-authoritarian, cocky, cigar-chomping gambler, drinker and all around badass fighter pilot woman who digs sex with no strings attached. How dare they!

Series developer Ronald D. Moore explained why the convention was turned on its head in a piece in Wired: "Making Starbuck a woman was a way of avoiding what I felt would be 'rogue pilot with a heart of gold' cliche." He was right. By keeping the two characters pretty much the same except for their gender, the newer, smarter, better version of "BSG" gracefully paid respect to the original while boldly moving into a more modern, subversive sphere of television. As exciting as the grand mythology, narrative and world-building was in "BSG" 2.0, it was the characters that made it work, and this new Starbuck, despite the initial fan outcry, proved to be its most complex and flat-out cool figure.

In a recent piece on Slate titled "Why We'll Never Have A Female Tony Soprano," writer Alyssa Rosenberg states that "[women] get penalized rather than rewarded for displaying masculine traits like aggression, physical force, ambition or selfishness. Efforts to create female antiheroes with masculine qualities... have failed because those characters are initially seen as evil rather than admirable." Funny thing is, that's pretty much exactly what actress Katee Sackhoff, Moore and his writing team succeeded in doing with their version of Starbuck.

Sackhoff took what was so well written on the page and brought it to life, playing Kara Thrace, callsign "Starbuck," as the toughest, most macho, self-destructive person on the show. She acts like a man, is flawed in the way most male antiheroes are, she does stupid, misguided things, almost proves to be the harbinger of death to the sole remaining humans in the galaxy -- and yet, we love her. I'd even argue as a cherry-on-top bonus that this Starbuck also gets to be sexy as hell -- and in control of her own sexual agency -- even though she rarely was made up or dressed as a traditional pretty woman on TV. How many of the popular modern male antihero characters can claim all that?


Ed: I don't think Alyssa's column was wrong at all in not counting Starbuck, as she isn't a true lead the way Walter White is on Breaking Bad or Tony Soprano is on The Sopranos, but yay for more praise for our girl.
[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com
Mo Ryan posted a lengthy podcast with writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, discussing "Someone to Watch Over Me." There's more notes on the podcast and episode at her column here

[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com

From SFX.Co.UK's 20 Things We Love about Battlestar Galactica

12 Kara “Starbuck” Thrace

“Starbuck can’t be a woman!” wailed the die-hard Galactica fans when the casting of Katee Sackhoff was announced, and even Dirk Benedict, the man who made Starbuck a legend, wasn’t chuffed. But how wrong they were. This Starbuck was a tightly-wound spring of anger, defiance and intelligence – with a smidge of raw spirituality thrown in that paid off in the final episode – whose performance stole our hearts. We reckon she could take the old Starbuck in a fight, too.

9 The Apollo/Starbuck Love Connection

So who did you ship? (That’s “ship” as in “relationship”, in case you don’t know the lingo.) First we had Starbuck and Apollo dancing around each other until you wanted to scream at them to rip off their clothes and do the horizontal foxtrot. Then Starbuck went on to marry Sam Anders and Apollo got hitched to Anastasia Dualla, who loved him way too much seeing as he was still besotted with Starbuck. The angst! The sex! The unfortunate coma! The suicide! Surely the most heart-breaking quartet of ships since ships began.

[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com
Ian Grey has written a really insightful article over at IndieWire about the review/press coverage of The Avengers and how Black Widow and Scarlet Johansson have been widely, widely overlooked in most reviews...written by male writers.  He gives a staggering round-up of the slights and a few examples of female critics' praise and argues that the reason may be because movies haven't quite gotten us used to seeing awesome females being awesome, unlike TV. Here's the meat-and-bones of his theory (including a Stabuck reference) but I highly recommend reading the whole article:

To which I can only say—exactly! And: isn’t this remarkable? Two parallel realities! Men who see nobody at all and women who see the next Faith (without the crazy, I mean). Don’t tell Disney, or they’ll be marketing the film as 4-D.

Jokes aside, how to explain this blanket amnesia?

If I were to be optimistic, I’d say this brand of blindness is about change happening too fast. Change is weird, scary and disorienting. And TV’s a great place for incremental change because it shows slow transformations occurring over time.

At first, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer was, literally, a joke. A cheerleader fighting the undead! Hilarious! And she’s so unthreateningly cute! But over time, people came to believe in the take-charge slayer, until someone in Season Four’s “A New Man” [sic] episode could remark to Buffy that “You're, like, make the plan, execute the plan, no one giving you orders,” and instead of intimidation, there was a shrug. Because it was true.

And so over time people weren't alarmed when Alias’ Sydney Bristow nicked bits of the 007 crown. Or when a female Starbuck showed Han Solo-level energy in the new Battlestar Galactica.

But The Avengers moves so fast, with so many zingers, tiffs, explosions, turnarounds and implications that I’d like to think reviewers simply didn’t have time to process just how radically and playfully Whedon (whose mother co-founded Equality Now) cedes yards of traditionally male genre property and space to Black Widow.

Some part of the male unconscious, down there where The Hulk lives, just didn't go for it.

ETA: The premiere of Katee's new show, Longmire, is rapidly approaching. News, info, and new Katee photos (like the one in my icon) can be found at [livejournal.com profile] longmiretv.
[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com

Lol. Tor.com has a fun article today about how Downton Abbey is essentially the same show as BSG. There are comparisons for Kara (as well as other cast members) and her romantic relationships. Do those of you who watch agree or disagree? :)

Also, a new exclusive clip from Star Wars: Clone Wars features Katee as Bo-Katan over here at SFX, and apparently there's an interview with her in issue 222 of SFX on sale from this Wednesday in the UK. Plus, if anyone hasn't seen it yet, there's a new extended trailer for Longmire released that has a few glimpses of Katee, brawling and smirking. 
[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com
Cutbox.co.uk lists our Starbuck as #1 in their new article: Battlestar Galactica: Top 5 Character Arcs

Who else could possibly cap this list? Not just one of the finest anti-heroes committed to celluloid, but also one of the finest characters full stop, Starbuck and her story are a true testament to the quality of the story-telling on show in this science fiction epic.

Battlestar Galactica is already a post-feminist show - see unisex bathrooms, women holding positions of power. Despite the initial, entirely unjustified reservation of the fans when the casting was announced, Katee Sackhoff not only holds her own, but utterly shines, imbuing Starbuck with an amicable cockiness that’s edged by a deep sense of sadness and regret.

Given what we learn of the character’s history, it’s incredible that Sackhoff nailed this aesthetic of the character from the go - though this also down to the writers evolving and adapting the character to her performance. Her final story arc is boldly emotional, tying her fate to that of humanity inexorably, and the payoff at the end magnificently tows the line between beautiful and tragic.

There’s perhaps the argument that her femininity is ostensibly the root cause of all her problems, which may or may not undermine her status as feminist icon, but in truth, it’s rare that you get a female heroin [sic] in sci-fi that has had as much care and attention put into her creation as Starbuck.

Memorably feisty, cocky yet incredibly human, and above all, uncompromisingly moral, she’s one for the ages.

Sorta side-eyeing that bit about her feminity undermining her as a feminist icon, but some nice words about Katee's portrayal of our girl.
[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com
Wired lists Starbuck as one of its favorite action heroines on this new list. She's in good company! Here's what they had to say about our fearless fighter pilot (and her portrayer). 


Katee Sackhoff gender-switched the Battlestar Galactica character played by Dirk Benedict for the original TV series. When BSG rebooted in 2003, Sackhoff quickly overcame skeptics with her tomboy take on Kara “Starbuck” Thrace. The actress took flight as a tough, smart, complicated pilot able to kick ass and soul search with equal conviction.

[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com
Vulture.com has an article that pits Twin Peaks against BSG for the title of "The Greatest TV Drama of the Past 25 Years"....and somehow BSG comes out the loser. But they have some nice things to say about the ladies on the show, and this Starbuck v. Rush line is pretty fantastic:

Among Battlestar Galactica’s stronger players are its actresses, blessed with some of the meatiest roles ever written for women on TV. BSG’s gender politics are euphorically advanced, with Starbuck, Six, President Roslin, and Boomer, not to mention every other female pilot, mechanic, Cylon, and civilian, so fundamentally equal to the men around them that gender parity isn’t something they even have to talk about. (Meanwhile on Twin Peaks, all the non-crazy fully grown women spend their time in abusive love triangles.) At a time when it is, somehow, still acceptable to call a woman a slut for taking birth control, one wishes more than ever that Starbuck were a real person, so she could swagger into Rush Limbaugh’s office and ask him if he would like to try and put something, anything, between her knees. (It would be icing on the fantasy to imagine President Roslin following her in, doing that thing where she smiles out of fury, and then eviscerating him without ever raising her voice.)
[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com
For those who like their Starbuck on the cute side, there's this adorable T-shirt made by one of my F-listers....

You can buy it HERE at Cafe Press

(Also this mousepad is available for fans of Starbuck & Apollo/Unfinished Business.)

And Starbuck is in the running for (and currently winning by kinda a LOT!) the poll at Zap2It for Most Crushworthy Space Cadet! VOTE HERE to lend your support! (You could also vote for Apollo there if you're a Lee fan!)
[identity profile] callmeonetrack.livejournal.com
A new glowing review of BSG from The University Observer newspaper in Ireland that ends with this lovely assessment of Katee/Kara:

The show features several breakout characters, but the highlight must be Kara “Starbuck” Thrace. Everything about this character breaks the stereotypical mould of female roles in sci-fi – the part was played by a man in the seventies version, and is now seen as a role model in the sci-fi medium.

Starbuck was played to perfection by actress Katee Sackhoff, who exuded a presence that, within seconds, could create an unexpected flurry of emotions. She was described by one of the show’s producers; “We saw this whole other side that was all because of Katee: vulnerability, insecurity, desperation. We started freeing ourselves up to explore the weakness of the character, because we knew Katee could express those things without compromising the character’s strength”.

Also there's some great candid shots of Katee on the streets of LA right here.


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A Community Celebrating the Lives and Times of Kara "Starbuck" Thrace

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