Lucy (played by Criminal Minds actress Kirsten Vangsness) is a modern woman who is trying to be the best that she can be, but she isn’t fulfilling her potential and the fate of the universe rests with her. Forgotten women of history unite with a futuristic alien to help Lucy find herself and save the very future of humanity.
Our main character is a caricature of modern womanhood, obsessed with social media and needing validation from the men in her life. The only time she is ‘true’ is when she is writing in her journals. To release her truth, the women of the past send Glock, a futuristic alien, to guide Lucy through their own lives. Misrepresented by history, written by men, the hope is that Lucy will see their true power and will realise her own.
Unfortunately, the show has far too many themes (including, but not limited to women in history, women of colour, and sexual trauma) and characters for anything to be addressed in such a short running time of only one hour. The women of the past, who lament being forgotten outside of cliché and character assassination, are given such a short time to tell their stories that the show inadvertently reinforces stereotypes rather than challenging them. This is especially true of Marie Antoinette, minus her head, who is never seen onstage and is relegated to nothing more than a punch line for cheap laughs.
Whenever Lucy and Glock are travelling to one of the women’s pasts there is a short burst of relevant pop music – for example, ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ when visiting ancient Egypt, that’s clichéd but amusing. The way the characters move to show that they are travelling through time or space is also a lot of fun. Otherwise, the staging is a little dull and very overcrowded when too many of the cast are in a scene together. The costumes are visually striking for the futuristic space aliens who are dressed in gold puffer jackets and skirts and Vangsness’ little red dress has useful pockets, a true rarity in life.
The narrative just about holds and the show is wrapped up neatly in the end. But Fempire: Cleo, Theo & Wu is only able to skirt around its many, many themes and, ultimately, there isn’t anything new or interesting said about the very real issues faced by women in the past or the present.