The Woman Who Was Kept on a Shelf
Episode 3 of Roar starts with a pageant show. “Miss Florida” prepares to reach the catwalk, in a slickly edited scene that sees her step through the curtains as a child called Amelia and come out as a confident young woman. She catches the eye of a businessman named Harry and the pair grow up together, falling in love and moving into the latter’s giant mansion. A fairytale come true right? Well… not quite.
We begin our tale within this mansion, as Harry is inspired to build a shelf for Amelia. Apparently it’s not for any of her items but actually for her to sit on. Harry wants to just gaze at her all day, remembering what he has while he works. He also encourages her to quit modelling too, and make sitting on his shelf a full-time job.
Of course, this episode is all about possession and in particular, feeling like you belong to someone else as a “trophy wife” rather than an individual. The shelf is high up too, and after using a ladder to get up there, Amelia finds herself stuck, day and night.
What begins with lavish gifts and bouquets of flowers, soon changes to a half-arsed blown kiss and her being called “doll” rather than Amelia. She’s feeling alone and struggles to connect with her husband. In fact, Harry eventually turns his desk around so he’s not even facing Amelia anymore.
Three years pass and Amelia is still up on the shelf. She talks to her shoe, pretending it’s Harry, whispering that she thinks they should break up. Amelia’s leap of faith is personified by the floor feeling like a million miles away. It’s not, of course, and she eventually hits the floor with a thud.
She leaves the shelf and, by extension, the house and begins dancing about in town. This goes on and on, eventually ending up as a flashdance down on the beach. Diving into the cold water is a shock to the system though, and soon snaps Amelia out of her euphoric state.
When Amelia heads into the make-up studio, she gets herself fixed up again, stopping her mascara from running and eventually back in the mansion, where she symbolically smashes the shelf up.
One year then passes and Amelia is back where she started from, only this time she decides to make herself a shelf to sit on inside a make-up studio. A neon-lit sign above her reads “Let Everyone Look”, as she welcomes everyone into her store. A young girl is dissuaded from aspiring to be her, as Amelia struggles to keep a smile on her face.
The Episode Review
So we learn early on that Amelia’s big struggle since she was a child stems from her mother encouraging her daughter to be pretty and beautiful rather than smart, believing this is the best way to go through life
The whole shelf gig is obviously an allegory for trophy wives, but then by the end of the chapter, Amelia decides to double down on both her beauty and the shelf life, making herself a new shelf inside the store and lathering herself up in make-up.
I’m not quite sure what message this is supposed to send to women, but it’s disappointing that it’s not more clear than “once a trophy wife, always a trophy wife.” Personally, I would have preferred it had Amelia decided not to wear any make-up and just opened a studio or chosen to pursue her studies again, standing up for herself as a strong female.
Instead, what we get is a muddied chapter that feel drawn out and could have done with another 8 or 9 minutes cut and a sharper message about empowerment.