Have you been looking for a sci-fi webseries with queer ladies? I didn’t know I was, but then my Tumblr dash decided to recommend one to me. After watching all the episodes, I decided it would make a great web crush for this week. Let me introduce you to Edge of Normal (with only some minor spoilers).
Edge of Normal follows six supernaturally-gifted girls throughout the course of three days. Natalie, who can read both minds and memories, meets and takes in the homeless Evey and introduces her to her friends. We soon find out, though, that one of said friends, Gretchen, is in danger. Her abusive father has returned to their family, and in order to get Gretchen and her mom out safe, all the girls are going to have to take some serious risks.
There’s a lot to like about Edge of Normal. First of all, it stars six girls in the main roles—when has that ever happened? And then there’s also the themes it covers. These girls aren’t using their powers to defend others, though that may someday happen—they use their powers to stop sexual harassment and physical and emotional abuse. In short, they defend themselves with their powers—a significant commentary on girls’ perilous positions in the world and how giving girls powers can affect that. It brings a more personal, intimate slant to the usual superpowers story.
However, there are also a lot of things about the webseries that I wish had been better. Edge of Normal started as a graduate thesis film for creator Amanda Overton, and in an interview about it, she said:
“Genre-wise, this is a very female-centric show. I did this intentionally because I love superhero comics and movies, but, especially in the mainstream, there just aren’t a lot of female heroes. It was important to me to make something girls could identify with and look up to in the superhero genre. I think boys and people of all ages will still relate to the characters and the universal themes of the show, but I do hope it will bring a new and different kind of reliability to the genre.”
In her desire to represent women and give them role models, did she not think about role models for women of color as well? All six protagonists are white (or very white-passing), and any people of color are background characters. Even one or two protagonists of color would have helped Overton’s goals significantly. In addition to issues of representation, many of the cuts between scenes seem unnecessarily jumpy, flickering, or bright, making the webseries difficult to watch at times and perhaps more so for people with photosensitive epilepsy. All of these issues could have been fixed easily with some deeper thoughts about accessibility and diversity. (All the videos are captioned, though, so that’s a point in its favor.)
Those issues aside, though, Edge of Normal gives us six well-developed female characters, many of whom are queer—Gretchen and Kris are in a relationship which is shown on screen (they kiss! it’s not hidden), and two of the other girls have crushes on Natalie. As a story, it has so much potential. There are only six episodes so far (along with some extra videos from Natalie’s vlog and Kris’s phone), and it doesn’t take too long to watch. Overton’s graduate thesis, though, ended with those six episodes, so there’s no telling if we’ll ever get a second season. Very important: our last episode leaves off on a serious cliffhanger, so if that’s not for you, I’d skip this one. Otherwise, check Edge of Normal out here on YouTube and profiles of the girls and their powers here.