If you're not watching Into the Badlands, maybe you should be, especially if you were disappointed by Iron Fist. With only six episodes in its first season and ten in its second, it's easy enough to whip through the show in a matter of hours. It boasts a truly unique aesthetic (feudal plantations of America blended with fantasy wuxia of Japan), a story based on Journey to the West, incredible fight scenes, and enough political intrigue and backstabbing to put Game of Thrones to shame.
And there are some great female characters too. Among the main cast there are two master manipulators (Lydia and Jade) and two formidable warriors (Tilda and the Widow), but this month I'm going with Veil, for reasons that might surprise you.
The past four women I've chosen this year have all been fighters of some description. In contrast, Veil is a gentle, nurturing, soft-spoken physician, the love interest to the male lead and (this season) the mother of his infant child. Her physical limitations and lack of political clout means she doesn't have a lot of what we might call agency, and yet she's a perfect example of how a woman doesn't necessary need to in order to be a compelling character.
In other words, sometimes writers get so caught up in making their female characters "kickass" that they forget to make them human. Not in this case.
Although she has the narrative function of being Sunny's Morality Pet, she also has storylines of her own that explore the ways she uses her medical expertise to help or hinder others (in this Crapsack World, there's clearly no such thing as a Hippocratic Oath).
She's the embodiment of Silk Hiding Steel, though the second season has started to deconstruct her former position as the ethical and emotional heart of the show. Now that she's a mother, she finds herself desperately trying to escape a dangerous situation, morally compromising herself in order to secure a future for her son – and some of these tough decisions are returning to haunt her.
Not just "the love interest" and not just "the moral compass", Veil is a woman with limited options, but enough strength and fortitude to survive in a world that has already killed much hardier characters.