Why Uncharted's Female Leads Are Important

From IGN - August 25, 2017
By Cassidee Moser

Uncharted has long been a series built on duos. Whether its Nathan Drake and Sully, Nate and Elena, or Nate and Sam, each pairing has its own unique dynamic adding layers and complexity to the narrative while revealing new sides of these respective characters. These duos are usually explored in respectful and complex ways, but there has long been a very specific one missing.

Until now.

Warning! Spoilers for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Ahead.

While driving through the lush valley of Indias Western Ghats, Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross often engage in small talk. These moments are largely innocuous exposition, but one moment in particular stands out. While discussing their history with the Drake brothers and the adventuring business, Chloe casually comments, Its nice to be with a woman for a change.

Although its delivered like a throwaway line, this bit illustrates a critical theme in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. It is a story whose main focus is placed solely on the friendship of two women.

In contemporary entertainment, women are often relegated to a handful of specific roles, usually in service to other characters or the plot itself. Theyre the love interests, damsels, prizes to be won, token badasses who are just as competent, but rarely exceed the skill of their male counterparts. Leading roles are rarely given to women, and when they are, its usually in limited numbers.

The MCU in particular is guilty of this. Hope van Dyne in Marvels Ant-Man is easily more familiar with the Pym tech and more competent than Scott Lang, but is held back for the sake of protection. Black Widow and Gamora are both token women who hold their own, but never eclipse the capabilities of the boys in the group. Agent Carter who is, arguably, one of the best-written female characters in the MCUis rarely seen engaging with women in non-antagonistic ways.

And even when additional women are added in, it doesnt improve much. A surplus of female characters usually means theyll be competing with each other, have a negative or antagonistic relationship, be used as set dressing, and be used to convey a sense of vulnerability and weakness. Theyre ever the sidekicks and villains, rarely the heroes.

Uncharted itself has been guilty of this trope in the past, by positioning Chloe as the other woman Elena doesnt trust and wants nothing to do with. At no point in the past games have we seen two women working together extensively in a positive light.

But in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, things are different. It sidesteps a vast majority of these tropes through the use of one vastly underutilized device: a positive female friendship.

On the surface, saying theres a female friendship in a story doesnt seem revolutionary. But consider, for a moment, the last time you saw a female friendship in entertainment that didnt involve ulterior motives, didnt become a punchline, wasnt broken up by an outside source, and didnt end with both women at odds. Its difficult to find one that meets this criteria, much less one that does it well.


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