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Tropes vs. Women ends the series with a look at female sidekicks (update)

After two seasons, Feminist Frequency’s series comes to an end

After more than four years, Feminist Frequency’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series has come to a close. Host Anita Sarkeesian sends the show out with little fanfare, focusing the final installment on the sorry state of “lady sidekicks” in games.

This episode looks at games like BioShock Infinite, Ico and Resident Evil 4 to highlight how female companions “often function as cheerleaders” for stronger, more capable male leads.

“These interactions are rarely depicted as mutually supportive,” Sarkeesian explains after running through clips of familiar AI-controlled, distressed damsels. “It’s not nearly as common in these scenarios for the male player character to offer emotional support to their female sidekick, to tell her that she’s doing a great job. These particular sidekicks aren’t designed as characters that players can actively engage in developing a relationship with, characters who are fully fleshed-out people with their own goals and desires that sometimes require players to compromise their own wants or desires.”

Games have gotten better in this regard in recent years, Sarkeesian says. The Last of Us and its expansion, Left Behind, enable women to protect themselves and each other. Even the dog-like Trico from The Last Guardian shows growth when it comes to designing companions for playable male characters; he’s the one offering protection to the at-times helpless lead, as opposed to the other way around.

Thus marks the end of Tropes vs. Women’s second season, which began earlier last year. Sarkeesian and crew recently wrapped Ordinary Women, a new series which broadens the scope to important female figures from throughout history.

Update: Sarkeesian reflected upon making the entire Tropes vs. Women series in a follow-up blog post.

“This is one of the most emotionally complicated projects I’ve ever created. It has been simultaneously awful and wonderful, and the journey is one which I will most certainly never forget,” she wrote. “One that would never have happened without the incredible and generous support of our nearly 7000 Kickstarter backers, and countless others who encouraged us along the way.”

The post recounts the history of the show, as well as gathers up all of its episodes in one place. Sarkeesian also noted that Feminist Frequency will return with another, different series soon.

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