Series Spotlight is a monthly feature in which I talk about television shows or miniseries that has caught my attention and/or undying devotion. Have a suggestion for a TV show I should watch? Let me know in the comments!
The Premise: Nikita Mears is a trained assassin for Division, a black-ops government that takes in the lost, the forgotten and the condemned and turns them into spies who defend America’s interests. Or so she used to believe. She turns against Division after the ordered death of her fiance, and works to bring down the corrupt agency on her own.
The Draw: Let’s be real here: female assassins? Women who are powerful and capable and intelligent, and who use their very femininity to get things done? This was a show that seemed tailor-made for me. The pilot episode was one of the most memorable episodes of a TV show that I have ever seen, and it’s rare that I decide to watch a show based on the pilot alone.
Why You Should Stick Around: I have never seen a show like Nikita, and I fear I never will again. The showrunners and writers don’t talk down to their audience, and they have faith in their characters and the journeys they have to take. The dialogue is snappy and smart, and there are so many layers and double meanings that it would literally take years to talk about all of them and what they add to the fabric of the show.
I especially loved the feminist aspect. Women are human beings, even as the media continues to oversexualize them and turn them into objects, and Nikita is not here for any of that. The show makes its stance clear from the start: women are just as, if not more capable than men, and to assume otherwise is to sign your own death sentence. Nikita’s deadliest enemy is not a man, but another woman, the very woman who helped her become Nikita-the-assassin. It says a lot about how media pits women against each other that so much of it is based on appearances and the masks we wear. Amanda uses that to her advantage, playing the older sister role and teaching her recruits how to use their looks as another weapon, even as she tears them apart mentally and emotionally. Nikita’s biggest inner conflict comes from her inability to see past the masks she’s had to wear to the person she really is, and the show explores that fear.
The audience is also given another relationship to think about in Nikita and Alex’s friendship. Female friendship, in all its joy and ugliness, is something that I feel television fails at more often than it succeeds. Nikita and Alex’s relationship mirrors Nikita and Amanda’s own start, but where it differs is the level of trust. Amanda never trusts Nikita, her fear of losing power and influence too strong to ignore. Nikita wants to trust Alex, and while they do stumble several times, that desire to trust and be trusted is ultimately what saves them from falling into the same trap.
I also loved that the show focuses on potential. Division sees potential in its recruits, and saves them from death, on certain conditions. Michael sees potential in Nikita, and keeps her from losing herself to the rage she’s lived with her entire life. Nikita sees potential in Alex, and trains her to harness the strength and ability she’s always had. It’s so important to show young adults, and especially women, that they are always capable of more than they’ve been told. True, I wouldn’t want to be recruited by Division to kill on their whims. But there’s something about being told that you are worth saving that changes you. The show constantly reminds its viewers that there is always a day after this one, a harder choice to come, and deeper happiness if there is the courage to reach for it.
Next month on Series Spotlight: A chocolatier finds that love definitely isn’t as simple as a box of chocolates.
Categories: Series Spotlight