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Unlikeable Female Characters

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Very interesting writing style how she took different subjects and characterized them that way. She took the woman as they were in different genders and different ideas. I like how she mixed history of the past to the future when she was describing these different types of women. I can associate with trainwreck because I live that kind of lifestyle a long time ago. Women are very powerful as you can see in the twenties they ran. Duction companies like very pickford in universal. These women We're trailblazers and they're Had to put up with a water negativity in their lives. I like me west because she had A sexy APP EL. Because she was not afraid of her body she did not have to hair nude in movies. This is a true lady who knows what you wanted like and she did what she need. Did the movie with Kerry Grant who was just a character actor. Because it was a great movie to play that i'm real great dame. I think every generation has somehow women they can look up to be who they wanna be. E v shows together and how she explained each of these women how they became in these titles. Entitled says it all and it really wanted me to read this book. Because I wanted to see how these women were so different.. No I understand how they were themselves doing what they wanted to do

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I really enjoyed this book! Not only is the topic something that is endlessly fascinating to me (as a self proclaimed lover of unlikable female characters) but I also had a lot of fun exploring it through Bogutskaya's style. It has research but is readable no matter your understanding level of the material and avoids the dryness that can sometimes come from hard analysis. I'm a deep lover of all things history so this dive into film while examining the tropes that women are often shoved into kept my attention til the very end. I also love love loved all the film recs and can't wait to dive into some of them in my free time!

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“And generally speaking, people are accustomed to judging women for the same bad behavior or traits that they accept in men. Hence why the phrase ‘unlikeable female characters’ has become a catchall that refers to any and all female characters, heroines, or sidekicks that dare to not give a damn what other people think about them.”

I was immediately pulled in and I didn’t want to put it down, but tried to slow down and take my time with it. Interesting to read this especially after watching Daisy Jones and The Six, since they severely toned down Daisy to be more palatable/“likeable” on screen compared to how she’s presented in the book.

The book explores the nine tropes that make-up our unlikeable female characters on screen: the Bitch, the Mean Girl, the Angry Woman, the Slut, the Crazy Woman, the Psycho, the Trainwreck, the Shrew, and the Weirdo.

Accessible, easy to understand as a casual reader interested in the topic. I love books about media and sociology so this was right up my alley! It’s filled with plenty of research without being dry, and filled with the occasional funny footnotes that made me giggle. We see the evolution of the “unlikeable female characters” from old Hollywood to the present, and I learned a lot about the evolution of film! I also liked the list of movies at the end with each of the tropes discussed (I have a few new movies to check out)☺️

I was glad that Bogutskaya provided an intersectional view when discussing the archetypes and how they’re usually for white women (also usually thin and rich). She briefly examines WOC and the different stereotypes they’re put into in film and media as variations to the main tropes discussed; she mainly focuses on the use of the “Dragon Lady”, “Angry Black Woman”, and “Spicy Latina” tropes.

I’ve used the term “unlikeable” about characters before when reviewing books, but I didn’t realize the negative connotations the word had behind it when applied to women so after reading this I’m going to try and be better in my reviews. It’s okay to not like a character but I’ll be trying to expand on what I didn’t like about the character rather than labeling them as simply unlikeable, especially because every reader is different in what they do or don’t like about the characters.

I highly recommend checking this out, whether you’re casually interested in the topic or if you’re like me and enjoy reading about media/pop culture influences on society and feminism. I’ll definitely be adding a physical copy to my shelves when it’s released!

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If you’re a movie buff, this is the book for you.

Overall, I liked the idea of this book - taking a look at the roles women are constantly assigned within the entertainment industry and standout characters who have broken the mold on these limiting ideas of who a women can be.

But, for me, the book went a little into the weeds. All the examples were great to really drive how the characterization of the Bitch, the Weirdo, etc has evolved over time but some of the descriptions of the films were more about the film than the character/actress.

At the end, the author says she hopes we gained some empathy from reading this book, which I love. Often times I find myself not understanding why a woman in a role is so hated while her male counterpart is doing the same type of things. But, it would of been nice to see that theme of empathy woven into the book if that was the intended take away. So those stark contrasts between male and female characters (like with Gone Girl) but do it for each characterization.

I learned some things about the start of Hollywood that were interesting and overall, this was a good book. If it was an audiobook, I would definitely recommend it as I found it read similar to a podcast.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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When we watch a TV show or movie or even discuss a female public figure, the conversation inevitably turns into not a discussion about the character or people themselves, but on the likeability of the female in question. This is nothing unique, but it is deeply fascinating in how art imitates life and how we, as a society cannot fathom a woman being "unlikeable" in the public sphere through positions of power all the way to our TV characters. This book is a fascinating look into why that is.

Unlikeable Female Characters, OUT MAY 9, talks about the origins of the unlikeable female character, breaking them down into 9 categories, ranging from the Mean Girl all the way to the Weirdo. And the result is absolutely stunning.

There are so many things I loved about this book. First, the way the author discusses the variety of "unlikeable" women in popular culture. She picks relevant and popular movies and TV shows to analyze the female characters within them. I knew almost every character she picked, and, if I didn't, she did a fabulous job explaining how those characters fit into our discussions of women and society's inherent need to make them likable. I also really appreciated that she takes the time to discuss female characters of color when possible. She discusses their contributions and even the traps that characters of color face within these categories. I found her writing relatable, her argument fascinating, and her passion for the subject enchanting. 

I could go on and on about why I loved this book. I found it is an important cultural study and gives rise to the radical notion that women do not have to be likeable to be complex, fully realized characters. In trapping these characters in the flimsy likeability category, we are underscoring the idea that the value women have is based on their pleasantness, not their humanity. Go do yourself a favor and read this book, as it shines a light on popular culture in a way that I think many have not thought about. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks, NetGalley, and the author for the ability to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

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This was great! The author takes us through the various categories of “unlikeable” female characters and how they have evolved over time. I’m not a film person so I learned so much about various actors, famous characters and how pre- and post- Hollywood changed with censorship regulations. I wonder how much more evolved we would be without those regs, but despite of, female characters have grown stronger and louder, and hopefully will continue to do so.

**Kindly received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Sourcebooks for a digital ARC - pub date 5/9/2023. This was a fantastic book! Well researched, incredibly read-able, and consciously inclusive. The author starts from a personal place and then takes your veiw upwards to look at the pop cluture landscape as a whole when it comes to women and how media treats women. Why does likeability factor so heavily into how the media (and we) view female characters? Why does it matter? How much of it is based around economics and marketability and how much of it is based around fear and social pressure?

She then chooses the tropes that we all recognize, reflecting back on how they relate to the concept of unlikeability. The Bitch, The Mean Girl, The Angry Woman, The Slut, The Trainwreck, The Crazy Woman, The Psycho, The Shrew, and The Weirdo. We all have heard these terms ad nauseum and we all carry our own baggage with them. So does society and so does the media. How these stereotypes are portrayed - well, what does that say about us and our culture? Not only does Bogutskaya really delve into the definitions and social constructs of these labels for "unlikeable" women but she also provides ample examples from film and TV. You have your standards, the stock examples, but there are also subversions and takes on the stereotypes that have shown up over time and show up now. The likeability of female characters still remains a sadly important topic to media execs but we the audience are starting to move beyond it.

Well, kind of. Bogutskaya focuses on media but she does reference the "real world" examples of Hillary Clinton and how some actresses are harrassed simply because people can't seem to keep their characters apart from their actual selves. Seriously. Poor Anna Gunn. I haven't even seen Breaking Bad but just the synopsis of how awful people online are to the actress because of her CHARACTER on that show being someone they dislike? Wow. Double standard much?

Speaking of double-standards, the author also brings up a lot of the issues there. The difference in reactions to an angry man vs an angry woman, a crazy man or a violent man to the female equivalent. She also makes a point of showing that, even in the women stereotypes, there exist further breakdowns and levels of "acceptability" and "likeability." How angry white women get a very different response than angry women of color. While Bogutskaya does not delve much into sexuality in these sub-discussions, you can just as easily parse between the lines to notice the differences, too.

Overall, this was a great book and provoked a lot of thought... and gave me one hell of a To Watch list!

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Bogutskaya has picked out some of the most troubling and interesting tropes that plague female characters today and complicates them further by implicating the viewer AND the actor. Unlikeable Female Characters is a fresh voice in feminist media studies and propels the conversation into a modern age.

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This book is a fascinating examination of the types of female characters we see in media, their purposes, and why we love to hate them. Great cultural analysis.

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This is such a fun (and infuriating) look through pop culture history and characterization of female characters. While I didn’t necessarily agree with every single opinion point, the author does well at backing up their assertions and I think they are well-presented and logical.

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finally justice for skyler white, shiv roy and villanelle all in one book!

I'm really not a non-fiction reader but I really did enjoy this book. I liked the organization of it; it was broken up by unlikeable female character tropes (the bitch, the mean girl, the angry woman, the slut, the trainwreck, the crazy woman, the psycho, the shrew, the weirdo). And it gave a bit of a history of the trope, going back to the hollywood moral hays code era, which was very fascinating to me. I absolutely could have used this book when I was a film/gender and women studies double major in college LOL

The only area I wish it would have dove deeper in was race. I think the author does a pretty good job throughout of mentioning it, but I almost wish it was seamlessly brought up each section instead of being a second point. I think women of color definitely haven't had as many opportunities to play unlikeable characters since they're still fighting for "positive" representation, but I think some classic characters played by women of color could have been brought up.

A really cool (almost) comprehensive look at some of the most interesting characters ever written and the cultural context for these characters and why they are so satisfying to watch.

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Interesting book that I will recommend to anyone interested in the topic! I think it’s going to be a hit for the right audience and I am excited to hear other reviews!

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Unlikeable Female Characters is an interesting study about feminism in media eyes. Women pop culture wants you to hate actually isnt really right because people love saw this unlikeable, grey characters and villainy type on media but not ready to handle them at real life.

So, I thought the explanation for each section of this book also work for any fiction work not only movies. The author separate all this characters into 9 types and I honestly enjoyed read her explanation about all of them.
The writing style is light, witty and give reader friendly tone. It make this book easy to understand. I found several my favorite characters on the list and happier to get insightful and proper reason why they become standout, great and unforgettable characters.
Off course with limited pages this book cant cover all the study into the deeper aspects. But I love the list and would start watch them one by one.

Thank you Sourcebookexplore NF and Netgalley for provided my copy. My thoughts and opinions always become my own

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Throughout history, if a women in film or literature dares to show her messy side, she is usually relegated to the back of the line or just killed off. Bogutskaya talks about bitches, trainwrecks, shrews, and crazies in pop culture and how they liberated women from being nice.
I thought the information the author gave was fascinating because it was stuff I hadn't thought of before. However, it reminded me of being in a film class at college. Not a bad thing but not something I would pick up again.

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I love this book! It examines film, literature, history, politics, and underlines all the ways these influence the way society regards women and how we see ourselves. It showcases the media shift in attention to preferring docile people pleasing women to recognizing and applauding bad girl characters who take no shit

Pop culture’s fascination with “unlikable” female characters is dissected in depth. What makes a woman “unlikable?” Should we lean into this? Is this freedom or another trendy cage that society is building around women?

I learned a lot and really reflected as I read through the pages of this one.

I am also obsessed with this cover and need a physical copy for my shelves as soon as it’s published.

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I thought this book was an interesting read however it does not go as in depth about women in media as I would have liked. It is a good book for someone staring out on exploring archetypes and stereotypes of women portrayed in popular media. I think the book would have been better off doing less of the archetypes but a more in depth analysis of the archetypes that were selected but that is just personal preference for me. Overall the book was easy to read and digest. Thank you for the arc copy!

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Anna Bogutskaya's Unlikeable Female Characters examines nine different archetypes of unlikability: the bitch, the mean girl, the angry woman, the slut, the crazy woman, the psycho, the trainwreck, the shrew, and the weirdo. Each chapter takes on one of these tropes, offering a historical overview and critical analysis. Bogutskaya's conversational style makes her research accessible for every audience.

Though Terri White's Foreward says this is "one of the very first birks to consider the non-nice girls on screen," this is a well-trod topic asking for a depth of critical analysis. Unfortunately, Bogutskaya's work remains surface level, perhaps by virtue of taking on so many archetypes. Within the chapters themselves, the thread of the argument is sometimes muddied as focus shifts between different examples. Some of this confusion might be alleviated if these chapters contained clear definitions of each archetype: what makes a bitch a bitch and not a mean girl? This isn't wholly absent, but it is not as clear as it needs to be to support some of the claims Bogutskaya makes. Considering how the bitch archetype applies to Black female characters (the importance of race is mentioned, but largely underdeveloped throughout), she hesitates to group Cookie Lyon, Annalise Keating, and Olivia Pope in with the other examples because while they may be "ruthless, self-assured, and relentless" they "are not cruel." While we could (and perhaps should) discuss whether being cruel is necessary to being classified a bitch, Bogutskaya does not clarify that definition.

While I broadly agree with Bogutskaya's reading of these characters and the capitalist machinery that continues to reproduce these tropes, we have very different understandings of some of her examples. Early on, she says that "angry women onscreen still scare us. Angry men do not." There is, of course, much to say about the portrayal of men's anger and its acceptability, in this moment, she's talking about the 2019 Joker, a movie where men's anger is dangerous and terrifying. She also discusses Kylo Ren's anger, but does not address the critical reception of Rey whose anger is a plot point in the film.

Bogutskaya's text will be most valuable as an introductory text for those just considering gender and media analysis. It offers interesting historical examples, productively linking them to their modern iterations and introducing other critical media analyses readers might seek out if this text caught their attention.

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“Unlikeable Female Characters” by Anna Bogutskaya is a nonfiction examination of feminine archetypes in media that inspire controversy over women behaving badly – “the women pop culture wants you to hate!” triumphs the cover art. It’s organized by archetype – ranging from “trainwreck”, to “mean girl”, to “slut”, to “psycho” – and each section goes through a brief history of each character type before delving into specific examples that have proven influential over the years.

Bogutskaya writes in a chatty, conversational style, witty and knowing in a way that reminded me of Buzzfeed-style lists but with the scholarly back up of a bunch of film and television scholarship. It’s a fun, easy book to read and understand. What Bogutskaya knows – such as “Gone Girl” in all its nuances – is well-researched and interesting. What ultimately works against this book is its surface-level examination of each trope: never once did Bogutskaya write anything more thoughtful than the average feminist Twitter reaction thread. That’s not an insult – I’ve read some great Twitter threads in my day – but the topic is, in this case, too broad for a 300 page book that examines 9 archetypes. There’s simply nothing here that surprised me or rocked my world or was particularly new or unique. You get exactly what you expect with this one, and nothing new.

The topic is too broad, and Bogutskaya’s pop culture lexicon too narrow. It is extremely obvious when Bogutskaya isn’t familiar with various areas of pop culture. While “Fleabag” and “Killing Eve” and various indie movies are often referenced (and are, rather obviously, the sort of pop culture media the author enjoys watching), the biggies that have taken over modern pop culture are oddly missing in action. Where’s the chapter on the accusations of Rey Skywalker’s “Mary Sue” tendencies? (For that matter, why isn’t “Mary Sue” one of the character archetypes discussed here? It’s exclusively leveled at female characters that are too smart, too quick on their feet, too ‘perfect’. Seems strange to have left it out entirely). Marvel’s chokehold on the film industry (and the hatred the actresses have received) wasn’t mentioned. Butch lesbians have been despised in media for ages, but they don’t get a mention. Video games and women have long been a contentious subject – see Gamer Gate, see how “The Last of Us: Part Two”’s Abby caused a hysterical fervor of fury and hatred toward a female character that nearly broke Reddit - and yet again, no mention. Bogutskaya makes a comment that Villanelle from “Killing Eve” was the first time a fandom sprung up around a psycho, while completely ignoring Hannibal, to which Killing Eve owes quite a bit. And of course while Bogutskaya acknowledges that her list of nine archetypes works differently for women of color than it does white women, I feel like a lot more might have been done to delve into the specific ways race intersects with likeability in women.

So all in all – I’d give this book to someone just starting to study media who wants a light delving into this specific topic, but it’s not a book that I learned anything new from. It’s fun, it’s readable, but it doesn’t really achieve the depth it needs.

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"Unlikeable Female Characters" as the title implies, deals with women who pop culture wants us to hate. Think about the news cycle and how many pieces are floating around at a time in tabloid culture and social media tabloidism where there is constant shade thrown at people who the media has said "Okay--we do not like this woman, and we're going to need the rest of you, the public, to also not like her. Bad woman. Shameful woman!'
In this book, we're focusing on what should be familiar archetypes like The Bitch, The Mean Girl, The "Slut," the "Crazy Woman," the "Psycho," The "Weirdo," and then more about the death of likability.

The premise of the book interested me because I have been on horror convention panels and had this discussion among female horror writer peers and library worker peers about what this notion is of unlikability and villainy in women that makes so, so many people uncomfortable. And not just cishet white dudes. Cishet white women are definitely also in this camp. But then you've got the aspect of parasocial relationships which I understood as a concept for years, but didn't have the vocabulary/verbiage for it, and now I do. It's that phenomenon where fans of a celebrity or famous person like Tom Hiddleston will be like "okay we love you Tom! Just don't commit the cardinal sin of dating, marrying, or having children with someone you, the Hiddles fans, hate!" And that's exactly what happened with his most recent partner, with whom he recently had a child. She is a mixed race woman of colour with African ancestry, and she is British. And Hiddleston's fans displayed some of the most overt displays of misogynoir and hatred that I have ever seen. Vitriolic levels of it. Some of these fans feel like they have a sense of ownership and like Tom's spouse "stole" him from them and I just... I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around this dangerous, toxic, and in some cases just plain "Okay, this person just tried to break into another person's home and feels like it's okay because that person is a celebrity" and that level of psychology which is just something that gives me nightmares.

We see the same dynamic with superstars like the popular songstress of the day with fans expressing to her all over social media and at in-person opportunities that they think that this celebrity would be a great dating choice for her. Or projecting other choices on that person, or getting mad when that celebrity "deviates" from this parasocial "contract" that some fans feel like that person has with them. That's more an aspect of fandom and fandom studies, but I feel like it overlaps with the subject matter of this book here, which is why I've brought it up.

One of the major cases that the author deconstructs is the case of unlikability against Hilary Clinton. For so long, so many people just kept going on and on and on in the press and in polls and in anecdotal interviews that they don't like her. There's something about her they don't like. She seems this or that, or they don't trust her. They don't think a woman should be president. And then the comments and misogny come in and it just gets even worse. I'm not going to take up time here talking about the 2016 election, but I will point out the horrendous "throw her in jail over emails" phenomenon and the rabid encouragement of violence against women in positions of power that has overtaken so many countries, but especially in the United States. This is an extremely dangerous rhetoric where a man, who was appointed the highest position of power in the country through illegal and highly questionable means, encouraged people to throw in jail and aim violence not only toward Hilary Clinton, but also we saw the aggression levelled at Dr Anthony Fauci and his wife, his adult children. We've seen that in the case of an older white man who ran for a public office position in the South in the past few years was confronted by the women he raped. He was not voted in, and justice prevailed, but then he burned down her house and attempted to kill her.

This book deals more with fictional characters, and is what the bulk of the book focuses on. Questioning why they are so-called unlikable. It starts with women who defied the conventions of their times like Marlene Deitrich and Mae West, then it goes to Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, and so on.

This book definitely falls more under the subject area of film history and women on film. It will primarily appeal to readers who want to know more about the history of female characters and archetypes on the Silver Screen.

By the time we get to the Mean Girl chapter, we get to "Carrie" and then to "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink," basically the Molly Ringwald era of the 1980s, and then we get to the 2000s film "Mean Girls" as well as the film Dangerous Expectations (I thin) in which Sarah Michelle Gellar changed her Good Girl Who Saves the World type from Buffy into Evil Bitch with a dye job for darker hair to boot. Speaking of Buffy, we also get some insights into the resident Meal Girl there, Cordelia Chase.

The author tries, in the next chapter, to break down this notion of why female displays of anger mean unlikability for them, questioning who is 'allowed' to be angry and show anger, before getting into "The Slut" chapter which deals with Sex and the City first,

Overall, the book is an interesting look into the subject matter, and for people who study in this subject area, might give them some more insights as well as newer scholarship to be able to point to in their work work. The author talks about the notions of popularity as well, and what makes some female characters more likeable than others.

One thing to keep in mind is that most of the examples used throughout the book are for films and television series that have focused on white women, like Buffy (see above), "Heathers," and more recent horror films. The book does not address the intersectionalities (at least not fully) of what makes some women more unlikable in the eyes of many, including race (and I don't mean that in an obvious way, like well, some white cishet viewers don't like this Black characters purely because they're racist) but more in the sense of someone more recently, a far more interesting example, of Dominique Fishback's recent performance in "Swarm" and the ways that she weaves in and out of unlikeability and villainy to likeability at times, to -- anyway; that's more a testament to "Swarm" and to the wonderful people involved both in front of and behind the camera. It's possible the author felt that one would need a more substantive volume to truly addresses the notions of character unlikability and race in female characters, or felt they were not the best or most appropriate person to undertake such a project, or dozens of other possibilities. Whatever the reason, the majority of examples and discussions here revolve around white women, and I think that it's important for library collection development staff to know that, and that perhaps readers expecting more deconstruction of tropes or of some deeper analysis might want to supplement their reading with further texts.

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This is a fascinating subject and I commend the author for taking on the challenge of doing it justice. It was thoughtfully written with tons of relevant examples, although I felt my interest taper off at around 70% and it pains me not to finish a book once I’ve invested that much time into it. I was also a little disappointed to have been given so many spoilers when it came to shows and movies that feature unlikeable female characters. I understand the need to discuss the entire storyline to defend her point, but I hadn’t seen many of the examples she discussed and would have liked to before knowing how they end.

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