â€śOceanâ€™s 8â€ť, the spin-off of â€śOceanâ€™s Elevenâ€ť and its two sequels, debuts in theaters June 8. The movie centers around Debbie Ocean as she and her friends attempt to steal millions of dollars in jewelry from the famed Met Gala, for the sole purpose of making some money.
In addition to Debbie, a thief and heist mastermind, the group attempting to rob the gala includes a hacker (played by Rihanna), pickpocket (Awkwafina) and other similarly shady characters.
What makes â€śOceanâ€™s 8â€ť different from the other movies in the franchise is that it is the first â€śOceanâ€™sâ€ť movie that features a predominantly female castÂ â€” in fact, it features an all-female ensemble. Yet what really stands out about the protagonists is that they are not the typical â€ślikableâ€ť female protagonists that have dominated pop culture.
For the women of â€śOceanâ€™s 8,â€ť thereâ€™s no tragic backstory to explain the desire to steal, no sense that thereâ€™s some greater purpose for these women to engage in criminal activities. And surprisingly, thatâ€™s very refreshing to see.
There seems to be an expectation that to be a likable female character, there are certain traits they have to possess. They have to be nice, play by the rules and if they do morally questionable things, itâ€™s always for the greater good. Thereâ€™s almost an expectation that there needs to be some form of justification for why female characters break the rules.
Take Hermione Granger, beloved secondary protagonist of the â€śHarry Potterâ€ť franchise. Now, I love Hermione deeply, but there were several instances in the books (and to a lesser extent, the movies) where she made morally questionable decisions.
In the â€śGoblet of Fire,â€ť she discovers that gossip reporter Rita Skeeter is eavesdropping on her and Harry by transforming into a beetle. Hermione then captures and holds Skeeter hostage for a year, all under the pretense of protecting herself and her friends from Skeeterâ€™s lies. Hermione literally kidnaps someone, and that is seemingly glossed over completely.
The women of â€śOceanâ€™s 8â€ť do something completely different with their narratives. None of the necessarily need the money theyâ€™re stealing for anything. There doesnâ€™t appear to be the indication that any of the women will be in any form of danger if they donâ€™t steal and sell the jewels. They simply rob for the fun of it all.
Olivia Milch, co-producer of the movie, touched on this topic during an interview, saying: â€śThis is really just a story about women who are excellent at their jobs, they just happen to be criminals. And I do think there is something about what women are and arenâ€™t allowed to do when weâ€™re talking about filmmaking and storytelling.â€ť
â€śWomen have kind of been left out of the ability to be in a movie thatâ€™s sort of just about fun and fantasy,â€ť Milch continued. â€śAnd they donâ€™t necessarily need the deep, dark, painful, crazy past to justify why theyâ€™re doing something. Sometimes women just want to steal shit.â€ť
Thatâ€™s what makes â€śOceanâ€™s 8â€ť such a truly remarkable film. It isnâ€™t that it features all-female protagonists, but that it features unapologetic women, doing what they want without feeling the need to justify their choices.