The Mother-Daughter Plot
So Starbuck "died" on Battlestar Galactica. I'm a bit off watching the show but keep somewhat apprised of the plotline. Here's what seems so obviously notable that somebody's probably posting about it on Slate right now:
Starbuck dies and her death is posited as a sort of reconciliation with her distant, cruel mother, whom she'd rejected in order to survive emotionally. In Grey's Anatomy,"Meredith almost dies but lives via an afterlife-lobby reconciliation with her distant, cruel mother, whom etc etc. So.. you have damaged women reconciling with their distant mothers as the absolute key to life and death.
Starbuck and Meredith represent the young working woman, the ascendant heir of second-wave feminism. This emblematic post-wave don't-say-I'm-a-feminist has run a few gauntlets, but those tests were rarely gender-related (I'm talking about skills-related tests, not the test Starbuck endured regarding her fake child, which deserves its own blog entry). She ha been able to develop her talent without much question of whether or not she's worthy, and their own barriers to success have to do with their own emotional damage.
In Meredith's case, she's a wimp (but mirrored by the preternaturally strong Christina, I LOVE YOU CHRISTINA, who has her own mama issues). In Starbuck's case, she's macha. But both are, above all, accomplished -- their professional triumphs (Meredith succeeding in surgery, Starbuck bombing the frak out of some Cylons) are always the high points of the show, while their emotional "triumphs" remain ambiguous and tentative.... though I fear that McDrippy is going to get down on one knee for Meredith soon, ruining everything.
These narratives make the viewer suspicious of the mother-daughter relationship, responsible for so much pain, while quietly asserting that those same distant or cruel relationships actually made stronger women of the damaged daughters. The Evil Mother is the motivating force. Not only is this prime fairy tale material, it's a neat summation of how many young middle-class women feel about second-wave feminism -- it opened up the doors, but also failed in acknowledging the vulnerabilities that so often still cause women to self-sabotage. It gave, it took, it left our young warrior girls in the lurch.
Rest in peace and a million pieces, Kara Starbuck. I really hope you don't turn out to be a cylon.