I find myself in an unusual position–pondering whether I should sue Fox for use of my trademark identity as “Bug Girl.”*

Here’s the background:  I don’t watch TV.  However, I do have friends that selflessly watch that drivel and report instances of insects to me.  And that’s how I know about this really quite awful show called Fringe

It has a really unusual premise for a TV show–It’s kind of a CSI, Alternate Universe. With zeppelins.  And it’s in its third season, which should tell you how much my tastes affect Television programming.  Frankly, I’ve seen acting that was less stiff in un-relaxed moths.  (entomological in joke)

Here is “Bug Girl” from a recent episode (center of photo).  She’s supposed to be the resident entomological expert for this mysterious federal agency.  I’m sure the poor woman was decked out by the costume department, but WHAT THE HELL.

If you were to put a Goth and Madonna’s Like a Virgin outfit in a blender, this is what you would get. Because I would totally show up at a federal job in a black lace mini with bows in my hair. And WTF is up with the That Girl hairdo?

Through the whole episode, people persist in calling what are obviously roaches beetles. I know it’s an alternate universe and all, but really? You can’t even read the very old book that you repeatedly wave in front of the camera to show us an engraving of a ROACH? That’s some strange alt universe, there.

Lastly, I know that scientific plausibility is not a high priority for sci-fi tropes. But…these giant “beetles” were once internal parasites in sheep, and now Crazy Science Guy has engineered them to now live in people? To somehow create a protein that will cure the flu?

Aside from the fact that a spiracular system has severe limitations inside a mostly aquatic human/sheep body….Um.
Well, honestly, words just fail me.

You can watch the entire episode here.  Truly dismal portrayal of science and scientists.

I am quite curious who their roach supplier was, and if he/she had any input on the crazy plot line.  I suspect they took the money and ran.


*I am kidding about this, before people start explaining what a trademark is.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. QuestionAuthority February 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Well, it’s Fox. What do you expect? They treat women like eye candy (mini-skirt) and hate science (she’s weird).

  2. A most excellent rant, and one with which I am in full sympathy.

    The quirky omniscient techno-girl has become one of the most annoyingly trite characters of television. You know, the woman who somehow manages to memorize all knowledge in between Pilates classes. And I guess this makes some sense from a dramatic standpoint. The reality, in which technical expertise is usually distributed over a number of people who don’t usually have tattoos, is mind-numbingly boring.

    But, like you, the technical errors are what drive me nuts. I’m a signals guy, so I know what can and cannot be done with “enhancements,” especially those having to do with images. You can’t take an amorphous blob and turn it into a HD picture. It violates all manner of laws rooted in thermodynamics. In addition to just offending me on a scientific level, this kind of stuff creates unrealistic expectation of what can be actually done in the minds of very important people. Yet it happens all the time.

    All of which just means I am relieved, on some level, that scientific sloppiness is an equal opportunity offender in these shows. At least I don’t feel as picked on.

  3. watched about 15 minuets of it, up until the entomology “expert” pointed at the roach and said, “it’s defiantly Coleoptera”, I then busted out laughing, died a little inside, and shut off my browser. I mean really. cant fox even check and see what the meaning of the jargon they are using is. It would be like turning on a medical drama and seeing the doctor point to a brain x-ray and call it a spleen.

  4. As somebody who’s worked in the film industry, i sympathize that you are limited as to what kind of insects you can get for a TV show. Filming large amounts of live insects pretty much limits your choices from hissing roaches, or mealworms. It’s what insect-handlers have on hand, so everybody grits their teeth and says “beetle” with a straight face. That didn’t stop me from convulsing and shouting out entomological expletives while watching the episode.

  5. Also drives me nuts! I hate the typical “they study bugs therefore they are freaks and dress like it (or eat people)”.

    Only if they had consulted an entomologist… I would imagine the biology of a parasitic wasp would have been so much more compelling than some half-baked “skeletal beetle”. It’s typical that they would get something so incorrect, but it’s just so painful to watch!

  6. Katie Cirkatiean February 18, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Hi Bug Girl,
    My hubby and I are entomologists, too, and were screaming at the TV (yes, watching the DVD-R’ed episode of that drivel ;)
    Thanks for the rant! It always better when someone else is outraged too!
    Ann Arbor, MI

    ps- OMG she was also wearing a spider web see through shirt. oye.

  7. Now, now. Is there any profession that is portrayed accurately on the tube? Let’s not feel singled out for beastial portrayals. Think of how lawyers, doctors (real), and cops must feel. All of commercial entertainment is caricature and lowest denominator driven drivel. Actually, add spin and you could say the same about tv ‘news’. TV is supposed to be a wasteland and it exceeds this standard at every level.

  8. Typical liberal mentallity. All you people who are putting the
    show down,don’t even watch it,and know nothing about it.
    Fringe is a wonderful blend of science and fantasy. It is supposed to be fun. The actors are indeed believeable.
    As far as women, Olivia is the main character and most of the time the hero !! Lighten up ,all of you. I can name many other shows that are really “sick”
    But I’ not a name dropper,,,

  9. Ha – hilarious comment. We noticed it because we watch it! And how does scientific accuracy equal liberal? Yes, the show is a departure form reality, but the basic facts were screwed up because we just know they were too lazy to find something more accurate. To put it in terms you might understand: it’s like someone on your favorite TV show giving credit to Carter for establishing relations with Russia.

  10. No science fiction show or movie is “scientifically accurate.
    That’s why it is called “science FICTION !!!
    If the show irritates you so much,, then simply !!! DON’T
    WATCH IT !!! Problem solved,,,,

  11. Carter didn’t establish relations with Russia,,
    Ronald Regan did,,,, Remember,,, “” Mr Gorbachov ”
    If you wany to be so accurate, learn your history …

  12. Yes, and that would be EXACTLY HIS POINT.

    *eye roll*

  13. no comment

  14. You know, ever since watching that Abrams crap-fest everyone seems to think is somehow a brilliant piece of writing, there’s an interview with him that’s recommended to me every time I log into Hulu.

    Truth be told, I kind of want to see how it’s possible to write a show this bad. It intrigues me, it really does.

  15. I only watch it as I have the hots for half of the cast. I find not listening to the dialog helps me avoid yelling at the TV about the profoundly bad science. Actually, calling it “science” is a disservice to science.

  16. 1. I think you should send them a letter, ratifying their use of your trademark “Bug Girl.” They don’t have to fight it, and if they did they’d be confessing you’ve got the mark and they abused it — and if they don’t, it sets a precedent for you.

    Use is the chief thing to look at — you’ve been at it much longer.

    2. If you want real women in science, check out the Charlie Rose Show archives. Don’t watch the pictures, but just listen: How could anyone help but fall in love with Lisa Randall and her explanation of string theory and the Large Hadron Collider? Science women aren’t all portrayed badly, especially when real science women do the portraying, on serious programming.

    3. Dave, check out Newton Minnow’s article in the March issue of The Atlantic. Minnow is the guy who, as commissioner of the FCC, stood up to tell the National Association of Broadcasters that TV was, then, a “vast wasteland.” That was 50 years ago. See what Minnow says now.

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