Roar (TV Series, 2022) : Uncomfortable truths about womanhood in 2022
Updated: Jun 30
Roar is the perfect template of what a feminist show with diversity behind and on screen looks like. For once, the female perspective is represented in all its complexity. Roar follows 8 women, 8 different stories and 8 accounts of sexism, patriarchy, racism and classism all told by 8 different female directors and an amazing diverse cast.
Because of its diverse actresses, it can touch on various sides of intersectional feminism and shows how all of these issues are woven together and make sexism even worse. The show deserves more publicity than it received. It is a masterpiece so go see it and then come back to read the rest!
© Apple TV
The Woman who slowly disappeared follows Wanda, a black writer who is going into a meeting with white male executives. Her book is a memoir about her life. They have already decided everything they wanted and hoped she would get along but she has opinions of her own.
They want to turn it into a VR experience so white people can know what racism looks like and exploit her father’s tragic death at the hands of white policemen for show. Every time she asks a challenging question, they don’t hear it. It goes as far them being unable to see her.
It shows you how patriarchy invisibilizes minorities and how they are considered accessories to what white men want. The white men are very happy for her not to be here because it would have been uncomfortable for them- because you know racism isn’t already uncomfortable. As the episode goes, she loses her voice. She tries to ask them questions and challenge them but they can not hear her. It shows how patriarchy and white supremacy can silence people and pretend they do not hear them when it is just very convenient for them to ignore dissenting voices.
Then she simply disappears. No one can see her buy a dress for the evening, people don't see her in the street. She is completely invisible as if she never existed. Who has never felt like she was invisible in a meeting or constantly talked over?
If you want to rip your hair out, you are a decent person. She goes back in to fight. In those situations, you're damned if you don't and damned if you do. In our society, it is sadly up to the people victim of racism and sexism to fight for change. She sets up an example for anyone watching this episode by going back in.
She shouldn't have to but, if she doesn't open the way and leaves it up to others, things might never change. To an extent there’s nothing else you can do in such a broken system but pick yourself up and go back for another round. It is always worth to put up a fight.
© Apple TV
The Woman who found bite marks on her skin is about Ambia, a woman who just had a baby. It is her second child and she almost died during childbirth. The nurses, doctors and her husband didn’t believe something was wrong but she kept insisting and no one listened until it was almost too late.
This incident reminds me of how Serena Williams said something was wrong after childbirth but she was not listened to when she is an athlete and knows her body better than anyone else. According to the CDC, in 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.9 times the rate for white women. Numbers speak louder than any words of the racism in healthcare.
We see her as she gets back to work with her husband staying at home to take care of the children - loving it! That should be something we see more often. Men can take care of kids too. They are parents too and not occasional babysitters. She goes back to her high-end job and bite marks start to appear. They get worse and worse.
She worries about the man who replaced her during maternity leave eyeing on her job. This is the most confusing episode because there are many ways you can understand it. Maybe the bite marks are a representation of the microaggressions working mums face when they go back to work and the guilt society wants to impose on them for not staying at home.
She ends up at the hospital, the same as the one she nearly died in. She gets better the next day. It looks like she needed to stop and rest. I see the bite marks as a physical representation of how society would like to keep women at home. How if it was physically visible, women would have to stop and stay at home. To a certain extent, this is what the extremists overturning Roe VS Wade are trying to achieve.
She does stop when she never wanted to. She stops because of something she had no control over and that really frustrated me. This episode highlights how you can try as hard as you want and sometimes society will still try to crush your spirit because you are outside of the cis white middle class man - who is a minority at the worldwide population scale but hoards all the power! Some might say it is a representation of postpartum but I don’t know much about that so I didn’t read it like that but I believe there are many ways of seeing that episode and any interpretation is as valid as any other. If you have any thoughts about this episode, leave your interpretation in the comments!
© Apple TV
The Woman who solved her own murder is the one that really hit me. It comes so soon after Sarah Evrard, Sabrina Nessa, and women getting kidnapped and murdered, more policemen who have raped or sexually assaulted women and are still working to this day. It comes after it is clear women are not safe in public spaces and that the conversation is still not shifting the responsibility to men.
Because you know, if we ‘behave the right way’, men won’t want to kill/rape/assault us! When cases like that make it into the media, the titles always say 'women were raped' - by who? Ghosts? No, by men. A man raped her so let’s start saying that and putting the blame on the perpetrator not the victim. This episode is full of sexist assumptions, slut shaming and victim blaming.
Becky wakes up one day to find out she has been murdered. She can hear and see things but she is a ghost following her own murder investigation. Because she is pretty, she must be a hooker. Because of the clothes the killer put on her, she must be a slut. You know that must be why she has been murdered. This is the train of thought of the detectives supposed to find her killer. If the police thinks it's our fault, who is supposed to help us and protect us?
One of the detectives even uses this case to get into the pants of his ex. That’s how seriously they take her murder… She explores all the trails on her own. She thinks it might be her ex boyfriend then her best friend. A throwaway comment by her BFF’s brother makes her realise he had a crush on her.
She follows him into his room where he plays video games and interacts with incels - involuntary celibate, a community of extremely misogynistic men who believe women owe them sex and are frustrate of not getting any. Laura Bates explores this perfectly in the book ‘Men who hate women’ and shows how it is a form of terrorism that the government refuses to acknowledge and fight against.
This boy has been radicalised into believing you can kill and dispose of women as he pleases. Because you know, we are not people in our own right with our own desires but only some kind of brainless dolls. She wonders if it’s because she called him the Virgin King once. Even if that was insensitive, she didn’t deserve to die for it.
No one deserves that. She puts a box together and sends it to the female police officer that was victim of sexist remarks at the beginning of the episode. She writes ‘put the pieces together and ask for a promotion’ which I thought is a cool way to show female solidarity.
I am happy that her murder doesn’t go unpunished and maybe that’s the moral of the story: the police would have let her down so she had to take it into her own hands. Nothing is done properly when it comes to women because we are seen as less unless we do it ourselves even after we die.
© Apple TV
The Woman who was fed by a duck follows Elisa, a student training to be a doctor. One day as she tries to study in a park, a duck calls her out. She is fascinated by that and she brings him home. Slowly they enter a weird kind of relationship. She makes alterations to her apartment to make him feel good and it looks like they don’t do much outside of the flat.
We only realise there’s a problem when her sister shows up to her door because she hasn’t heard from her in months. He becomes angry. The abuse becomes more apparent and obvious with insults. She manages to get out of the house. When she comes back, she comes back with animal control and he is out of her life.
It shows how insidious abusive relationships are. They rarely start as abusive but things shift so subtly that one day you wake up to a different relationship without even seeing the shift happen. It’s a bit like the frog that got boiled because the temperature was turned up slowly. they didn’t realise what was happening just like Elisa didn't until the very end.
She takes her confidence and life back. She goes back on track to be a doctor after missing her exam. It is a very positive message. The controversy about that episode is that the duck performs oral sex on the character. In an episode about domestic violence, it is of course the only moment of female pleasure that is a problem...
We never see anything, it is only suggested. But this is what people complained about : In May 2022, the British TV show Gogglebox featured a scene from Episode 5 "The Woman Who Was Fed By a Duck" wherein the duck performs a sex act on the woman. The broadcast of this scene resulted in over 200 complaints to the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom. Violence against women on screen because the writers couldn’t find another thing than rape to make the story move forward is okay. Female nudity, that’s fine too. But a woman taking any pleasure, what is this sorcery? Because we never see the animal doing anything, it’s more the representation of female pleasure that is a problem for viewers than anything else. When it’s men being given a blowjob on screen, no one bats an eyelid.
© Apple TV
The Woman who exchanged her husband is a really funny one. Anu is very unhappy so she is advised to return her husband. In this world, women can pick up husbands at a shop for a certain price and return them. Her neighbour gets her ex-husband and he starts doing everything for her in ways he had never done it for Anu.
She starts wondering what happened. She tries out different men but nothing really feels right. Her neighbour eventually returns her ex-husband and they meet at the supermarket. She confronts him about him doing nothing for her when they were married.
He tells her he would do things but because she complained about how he was doing them he stopped. Here is how sexism perpetuates. Because women are taught since our very early age how to take care of chores and most of the time boys escape it, once they arrive into adulthood their girlfriend or wife has to do that education.
It is double punishment for women and sometimes you are too tired to fight and would rather do it yourself because it is quicker and therefore you perpetuate the vicious circle of doing everything and them doing nothing. And somehow it’s still your fault because you should let them do it even if it takes six months for them to wash the dishes or do the laundry.
It is something to be aware of but it should never be framed as women are at fault because if men were raised to do everything, it would not be an issue. Women should never be expected to educate grown men but we still have to do it and fight for equality in chores or we keep going in circles and repeating old patterns.
It is a wake up call for the woman who is like it’s my fault too. I don’t think this is the fair though. It should never be on her shoulders to begin with and he could have told her that years ago not wait until she returns him back to the store.
© Apple TV
The Woman who was kept on a shelf is about Amelia, a little girl who was told being pretty is more important than being smart. She grew up thinking the best thing is to be pretty and being smart was framed as a bad thing so she couldn’t be both. She grew up and became a model.
She didn’t like the job but it validated her need of being pretty. This was the thing she was best at- being pretty and looked at. She meets a man who sweeps her off her feet. They get married and he wants to look at her when he works every day so he builds her a shelf to sit on.
The first times he showers her with gifts. Slowly there are less gifts and he is barely looking at her. Ultimately he changes the orientation of his desk to look at the window instead of her. He lost all interest. She realises she can’t live like this. She jumps. We see her taking the jump from her own perspective which is a beautiful scene. We feel her fear and her doubts. She doesn't know if she can survive this and live on her own.
She stumbles into a makeup shop. She is complimented on her skills which opens up a new way for her. Fast forward, she opens a shop where she greets people while sitting on a shelf. She took back power. She couldn’t get rid of all her trauma and damage that was done by making her feel that her worth is in her looks but she reclaimed it.
She gave her life direction and purpose. Sometimes that is the best we can do and that is enough. Giving ourselves the opportunity to reclaim our lives in any way we see fit.
© Apple TV
The Woman who ate photographs is about Robin whose mum is sick with dementia. She goes to pick her up from her place to move her into her house with her family. It looks like her mum can’t live alone anymore because of the disease. The pain of the illness and the longing for happier times lead her to eat photographs.
When she eats them, it’s like she lives them all over again. On the journey home she takes with her mum, she eats the photographs she took from her mum's album. It’s like a way to hold on to a past that does not exist anymore.
Eating those photographs is a relief, an escape from reality. It’s like she is taking the place of her mum. She becomes the parent of her own parent after having been the child. It’s like she doesn’t have anyone to look up to anymore.
It’s a powerful episode but I will admit I do not have as much to say on this one, as I don’t have this kind of lived experience and I can not imagine what it’s like. If anyone has any ideas about it, please pop them down in the comments.
© Apple TV
The Girl who loved horses finds its roots in the tales of death and vengeance at the Frontier. Jane, a young girl sees her dad being killed by thugs and his horse stolen. She sets out to find the criminals, make them pay and take back his horse. She finds them in a barn. She gets ready to confront them but her childhood friend appears out of nowhere. She looks like she is the perfect young woman. She is the total opposite of tomboy rebellious Jane. She is also the one who gets them out of this situation alive by playing the patriarchy to her advantage and getting her friend what she wants without getting killed.
I am not sure if the message is that sometimes you need to find alternatives routes or that you can’t beat a broken system by following the rules. It shows that even women who look like they are stereotypes and submissive are more than meets the eye. It’s the way they are misjudged and underestimated by everyone that gets them what they want. She is smarter than she looks. Even Jane underestimated her and now owes her her life. What Roar proves is that diversity at all levels is out there. There are amazing female directors, writers, actresses, producers but the white men who hold the power in Hollywood would rather ignore their existence and pretend there are not enough women who can do these jobs. They are wrong and Roar is all the proof you need.