A Field Guide to Lady Robots
This week, Japan introduced some eerily lifelike lady robots. These dolls are so deep in the uncanny valley that they can see a light shining from the bottom of its crevasse.
When looking at the fictional gynoids of the past, — yes, gynoid is a fun new word I picked up when doing google searches for this piece — one can see that female robots fill a few stereotypical roles in pop culture: the vixen, the terminator and the caregiver. Though some of sci-fi’s most recent girl robots are, like real women, unable to be labeled as just one thing.
Here is a timeline of some of pop culture’s most notable women androids.
Maria, Metropolis (1927)
Maria is film’s first lady-bot, appearing in the 1927 German masterpiece Metropolis. As a Maschinenmensch, or machine person, Maria’s robot persona performs a rather risqué exotic dance for the 1920s.
Rosey, The Jetsons (1962)
What 1960s household of the future would be complete without a robot maid? Rosey is brassy in temperament and chromatic in appearance. She seems to always know what’s best for the Jetsons, but lets them make mistakes for themselves.
Fembots, the hyper-sexualized female bot, first made an appearance on ‘70s TV shows The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. They are perhaps best know for their ‘90s resurgence in the Austin Powers trilogy. Britney Spears memorably had a cameo as a buxom-bot in Austin Powers: Gold Member (2002).
V.I.C.I., Small Wonder (1985 – 1989)
Small Wonder was a 1980s family, science fiction sitcom that followed the family of a robotics engineer who passes off a little robot as his adopted daughter Vicki, or V.I.C.I. an acronym for Voice Input Child Identicant.
Dot Matrix, Spaceballs (1987)
In the ’80s, ladybots get sassier. Joan Rivers voices this gold fabu-bot that resembles a girl C-3PO. She’s the only broad in the galaxy who can handle Princess Vespa, a Druish princess.
Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Voyager (First Appeared 1997)
A reformed Borg (a hive cyborg race and the scariest of all Star Trek aliens), Seven of Nine “assimilates” to life aboard the Starship. . . and not the other way around.
Call, Alien: Resurrection (1997)
In this installment of the Alien films, Winona Ryder’s character Annalee Call, a new crew member on the Betty, is revealed to be an android.
Number 6 or Caprica 6, Battlestar Galactica (2004 – 2009)
Tricia Helfer plays this saucy cylon in the BSG reboot — which by the way is super awesome and addictive. There are a few other female cylons on board. . . I’ve already said too much.
The ladies of Stepford, The Stepford Wives (1975 and 2004)
Based on the 1970s film, and book, of the same name, Nicole Kidman brings a modern, Manhattan twist to the technological hamlet of Stepford. The Stepford ladybot—perfect in every way, aside from some technological glitches—is supposed to represent everything that’s wrong with suburban, Jones-upkeeping, middle class life.
Lenore, Serenity (2005)
In the follow-up film to the TV series Firefly, the genius Mr. Universe has a dutiful robot wife named Lenore.
Eve, Wall-E (2008)
As time has gone on, the lady robots has been reinvented with more heart Perhaps the most adorable girl robot on the list, Eve saves Wall-E from loneliness and propels him into the adventure of his robot lifetime.