Colleen Martell

“You’re Not My Mother!” Bodies, Love, and Survival in ‘Advantageous’

Gwen and Jules talking in the park, surrounded by green grass, tall trees, and the river.

In these moments, and in those unspoken moments when she savors placing long sweet kisses on Jules’s cheek, we see Gwen’s resistance. “Know your value,” Gwen tells Jules. It’s not found in good grades, not in getting into the best school, not in a newer and “better” body, but in sensory and emotional human pleasures.

‘Humans’ Thinks About Gender, Power, and Technology

“Anita” in the Synth showroom

The question at the heart of this U.K.-U.S. hybrid miniseries is, what does it mean to be human? Through the show’s emphasis on intimate, domestic life, this becomes a decidedly gendered question. Among the four concurrent storylines, Anita’s and Niska’s stories stick out to me as the most expressly concerned with gender, power, and technology. In a parallel present in which traditionally gendered roles like housekeeper, cook, nurturer, and prostitute are taken up by hyper-productive female robots, what does it mean to be a human woman? Or more specifically: what is a mother? A sex worker? A wife? And what is the relationship between female Synths and human women–one of solidarity or antagonism?

Sweet Nectar of the Matriarchy: Breastmilk in ‘Fury Road’

Immortan Joe sampling the goods with milk mothers and their machines in the background

Furiosa, the “Wives,” the Vulvalini, and Max’s triumphant return to the Citadel finds the once chained-to-their-pumps milk mothers now opening the floodgates and pouring water down on the people below. It seems likely that our sheroes and the milk mothers will move forward on the “plentitude model” – bathing in an abundance of sweet, thick human milk, sharing water access, and growing green things from heirloom seeds – rather than continue in the scarcity model exemplified by Immortan Joe, with the milk mothers as capitalists profiting from their own production.