Not watching CBC's Strange Empire? Well, you should be. Here are 9 reasons to watch:
1. It's about women. Strange Empire's is about how women in a tough situation survive and thrive without their men, and the lengths they'll go to to protect what they hold most dear.
2. It's about women in the Wild West. Most Westerns focus on men, the West being a rich source of hyper-masculine tropes and stereotypes. Women are rarely more than bit players in these tales, as fallen women with hearts of gold, innocent schoolmarms, rich trophy girls or down-home ranchers' wives. And while there are certainly many of these archetypes in the show, we get to see them all fleshed out with agency of their own.
3. It's about women in the Wild West of Canada. More specifically, the border area between Alberta and Montana, an area rich with history and a diverse blend of cultural groups all struggling under harsh conditions. One of the most taut episodes this season addressed racial tensions with far more realism and directness than many other Westerns have. And few (if any) have been set in this particular region.
4. It's got women of color in diverse lead roles. Cara Gee plays Kat Loving, a tough-as-nails Métis rancher with a questionable history searching for justice for her husband while keeping her adopted family safe. Tattiawna Jones plays ruthless and conflicted con woman Isabelle Slotter whose power plays could give Cersei Lannister a run for her money. And Melissa Farman plays the mildly autistic Rebecca Blithely, a brilliant medical savant tied to a man who sees her only as a genius curiosity.
5. It's a Canadian production. Support great programming and great Canadian talent on CBC!
6. It's "Deadwood light". I loved Deadwood. The first two seasons of it, anyhow. But the HBO series failed to address many of the issues Strange Empire tackles head on, with all the grit and grim peril of the HBO series. Strange Empire manages to tell good stories at its own pace. Plus you don't have to listen to Ian McShane swearing all the time.
7. Aaron Poole: There's something too greasy about him to like, but too broken to hate. As the ruthless and felonious Captain John Slotter, you can't help but love to hate him. Or possibly hate to love him. I'm undecided which.
9. Strange Empire is available free to stream on the CBC website! It airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EST.