Gwen

Who you calling drab? Sauce here.

I hate it when my officemates say Gwen, played by Angel Coulby in BBC’s Merlin is ugly because she’s not white and because her nose is flat.

There is nothing wrong with finding someone unattractive – not everybody is taken with Benedict Cumberbatch the way that I am and that’s totally fine because, hey, he is a BAMF and anybody who thinks otherwise is a moron, to each his own.

But to dislike someone, fictional or not, simply because of her color, is hardly a justified argument. It’s plain racist.

They do not like Gwen because she is ugly. She is not. This Gwen is not the Guinevere that I usually envision when I read Arthurian stories. I always imagine Guinevere as blond, fair and delicate. But just because Merlin’s Gwen is none of these does not automatically make her ugly.

I think Gwen gives the show a sense of stability and normalcy. I sometimes find her too drab and forgettable, but she’s very relatable because, admit it, not all of us can be princes, beautiful seers or talented wizards. Some of us are just born to be ordinary.

I initially didn’t like Gwen; it takes time to get used to a character that is not like the Queen Guinevere I have always imagined. However, I have come to appreciate the show’s interpretation of Gwen. She is the polar opposite of what we think a Queen should be. She is not royalty; she’s the daughter of a blacksmith. She’s no great beauty – evident in the first season every time she is juxtaposed with the regal Morgana.

But she has spunk. There’s such a stark contrast between her ordinary look, and the inherent kindness and strength within her. Taking away the physicality which makes Guinevere ‘special’ in previous stories and incarnations serve to highlight the person, not the face or the title. For that alone, I take my hat off to the producers of the show.

I also find romantic the notion that Arthur does fall in love with her because of who she is and not for what she looks like. That and because she’s one of the few person who can put a halt to his arrogance when she wants to.

Everybody wants to be beautiful in someone else’s eyes. In Gwen’s case, it does not always have to be physical.

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4 thoughts on “Gwen

  1. I think the reason most people, myself included, take issue with her is because they actually emphasize how breathtakingly beautiful she is. If they’re casting a plain girl with great character, then don’t spew rubbish like “you are every bit as beautiful as the rumors say”…. something!!

    And seriously, it’s NOT because she’s black!! GOD! Why do people have to drag race into everything?? The next time someone wants to talk racial discrimination, please stop and consider whether the same sentiments would be applicable if someone good-looking from that race were substituted. People would have loved it if some true black beauty were cast in her stead, now, wouldn’t they? I don’t remember anyone complaining about Halle Berry being a Bond girl? Same here.

    This chick just isn’t attractive (and wouldn’t be even with Michael Jackson skin and nose). And the irritation with her stems from the insistence on making her out to be gorgeous (on the outside).

    • I wrote this post precisely because several of my officemates did gave off that comment – that they didn’t like her because she was not white, or her nose was flat. That’s hardly fair. Give me something objective – ie, her acting sucks – then, fine. Anyway, those comments were something I wasn’t comfortable with, hence my rant, er, post.

      Now, if you don’t find her attractive, or authentic, or whatever, I’m fine with that (well, not really. Standards for beauty are relative and subjective, so, meh). My personal take is that she’s pretty, I’m fine with her as Gwen. Anyway, Merlin ended, so, that’s that, I guess.

  2. I forgot to mention that authenticity is another major issue here. People watch period pieces with an expectation for authenticity, going in. Even Angelina Jolie, with her modern beauty and sex appeal, wouldn’t be appreciated in period dramas. People of that time would not have appreciated beauty like hers, and showing them considering a pillow-lipped woman enchanting would be inauthentic.

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