Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women who inspire us. Now, this not only includes fictional female characters in geeky media but creators as well. These ladies are a prime example of female empowerment and how crucial it is for youth to have said example to follow.
DISCLAIMER: The following contains spoilers for DC’s Doom Patrol.
Rita Farr (April Bowlby) was born Gertrude Cramp in 1929. Her mother, Addie Cramp, tried to launch her acting career in the 1930s. Gertrude suffered verbal abuse at the hands of her vanity-obsessed mom. She caught her mother having sex with a movie executive to further her career.
In the 1950s, Gertrude adopted the stage name of Rita Farr as she ascended the ladder of Golden Age Hollywood stardom. While on the set of “Forbidden Congo,” Rita fussed over an amputee crew member.
After the producers replaced the man, Rita crossed a gangway during filming, and she fell through it and encountered a mysterious underwater gas. Rita emerged with gruesome deformities along with the power to shrink, lengthen and stretch her body at will.
Later, Rita found sanctuary with Dr. Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) at Doom Manor in Cloverton, Ohio. She now resides there with Jane (Diane Guerrero), Larry (Matt Bomer), Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser) and Vic Stone (Joivan Wade).
Rita makes a public reappearance after decades of solitude inside Doom Manor. After Niles, a.k.a. “The Chief,” goes missing, Rita bands together with her group of misfits to find him. She contends with the antagonistic Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk), who psychologically tortures her.
At some point, Rita learns the awful truth regarding the accident that destabilized her cell structure. The Chief caused her accident and the other Doom Patrol members to increase their lifespan as part of his experimentation with his mortality. He wishes to outlive his daughter, Dorothy, so that he can protect the world from her.
Eventually, Rita takes vital steps toward reviving her acting career by auditioning for a Cloverton community theatre production. She works through her childhood trauma involving her late mother.
By the end of Season Two, Rita and the Doom Patrol fight the Candlemaker. Rita reunites with her imaginary friend, a paper doll named Mademoiselle Roxy. Unfortunately, Candlemaker “waxes” Rita alongside the rest of her friends.
The Real Deal:
Rita is flawed and a far cry from the perfectly manicured exterior she maintains. When we first meet her, she’s haughty, narrow-minded and narcissistic. Rita is the quintessence of glitz and glamour, retaining her 1950s Old Hollywood style. But Rita’s so much more than that. She’s courageous, and she works to overcome her anxiety by forging ahead into the outside world.
Her self-worth is rooted in her physical image, and she endeavors to accept her deformities and her powers for what they are. Rita is devoted to personal development, and she vows to utilize her abilities for good, despite her initial reluctance about being a superhero.
She learns to self-love and lowers her stoic walls to let in those closest to her. She’s one of the Doom Patrol characters with the most growth. Deep down, Rita’s a caring person who’s bravely acknowledging her pain.
Why She Matters:
Why does Rita matter? It’s nice to see a superhero struggle with anxiety. That’s not to say that mental health is glossed over in superhero properties, but Rita’s severe anxiety plays a crucial role in her evolution as a character. Her commitment to growing as a person is nothing short of admirable. None of us are perfect — even those with impeccable looks, and we’re all capable of immense growth.
So, be like Rita. Face your fears. Never stop growing. Let your insecurities be your superpower. Stand up for those who can’t. Find solace in your circle of friends. And, when all else fails, don the sleekest, most elegant dress you own and kick ass.