This week’s Danger Gal Friday profiles Sydney Bristow from the TV series ALIAS. While writing last week’s profile on Evelyn Salt, I realized that I had never profiled Bristow. (I really thought I had already!)
Maybe the reason I have never profiled this character is because more often than not the show resorted to dressing Jennifer Garner not only in incredible disguises, but incredibly exploitive disguises. Even though I definitely enjoyed ALIAS, very often it seemed that Bristow’s MO was to distract with her sex appeal and it got old. In fact, that trope was old before ALIAS ever graced the airwaves. Hathor Legacy posted on this topic back in 2008 with a great shakedown of the tactic.
Despite that weakness, the show always primarily revolved around Syndey even when secondary characters had their own complicated lives (has anyone noticed how FRINGE has turned into All About Peter?) Also, Jennifer Garner stayed seriously in shape for this role, something I always thinks lends credibility to an action role.
Extremely intelligent, Bristow is highly-skilled in Krav Maga and speaks 30 languages. Her father is a CIA operative like herself and her mother, Irina Derevko, was an undercover KGB agent who faked her death to avoid capture by the FBI when Sydney was six. After a few years with the CIA, she was recruited into the black ops division SD-6 and reunited with dear old dad. During the show Sydney became involved with Michael Vaughn and in the last season of the show the two had a daughter, Isabelle. It was revealed that Sydney had been part of Project Christmas, a program designed to raise gifted children as sleeper agents to later be recruited by the CIA. The show suggested that Isabelle was also part of this program.
Overall and despite my few criticisms, I definitely enjoyed ALIAS and think that Sydney Bristow pushed forward the way we think about women and action-oriented characters in TV and movies.