“God, you're a crazy bitch.” – Mr. Lyle
“You don't know the half of it.” – Miss Parker (The Pretender 2001)
At the #1 spot on the list of Kick Ass Women Who Inspire Me is Miss Parker. For those of you who don’t know, Miss Parker was the main female character on The Pretender. The role of Miss Parker was played by Andrea Parker.
“Jarod's not just a man. He's a Pretender. A human chameleon. A genius who can literally become anyone that he wants to be.” – Miss Parker ("The Pretender: Back from the Dead Again (#2.1)" 1997)
The Pretender was a TV show that was on NBC from 1996 to 2000. After NBC cancelled the show, TNT picked up the series and made two made-for-TV movies. The show follows a man named Jarod, who was kidnapped as a child and then basically used as a science project by an organization known as The Centre. Jarod, who is extremely smart, is known as a Pretender. That means he has the ability to pretty much do anything. One episode Jarod would be a brain surgeon and on the next he’d be a gigolo. As an adult, Jarod realized that he’d being exploited by The Centre and that they are using him to commit evil acts and injure/kill people. After Jarod escapes – and goes off to help people while he searches for his family that he was stolen from – Miss Parker is brought down from The Centre’s corporate offices to bring him back. Miss Parker, whose father is one of the main men in charge of The Centre, grew up with Jarod. They were childhood friends. Now they are adversaries as Miss Parker chases after Jarod and attempts to bring him back to The Centre. Despite the fact that Miss Parker is hunting him, Jarod tries to help her unlock the mysteries of her past.
“You run. I chase.” – Miss Parker (The Pretender: Island of the Haunted, 2001)
I didn’t start watching The Pretender until after NBC cancelled the show. My dad started watching the reruns on TNT. I immediately got hooked onto the show after watching about five minutes of Miss Parker. She’s one of those characters you either love or love to hate. The woman is a stone cold bitch, but she has the occasional moment when you realize that she might just have a heart. Miss Parker’s character is very complex. She has a tough job – not just in her task to bring back Jarod, but in working for The Centre. Regardless of how tough her job is (or how shady The Centre’s hush-hush business is) Miss Parker goes about doing her job with a firm determination to get things done no matter what it takes. She’s an assertive, demanding, and powerful woman. She gets what she wants (aside from Jarod) and commands attention. If she were to walk into the room, you’d know it before she even got there. Miss Parker is very intelligent – just not quite as intelligent as Jarod. She’s a gorgeous, stylish woman who can sprint in high heels and a miniskirt. She also carries a gun – and has no qualms about using it. What I immediately loved about Miss Parker is her cynical attitude and sarcastic comments. I used to have a notebook where I wrote down all of her insults, comments, and one-liners.
“I’m a Parker. And with every new revelation in my life my family portrait becomes a more hideous picture.” – Miss Parker (The Pretender: Island of the Haunted, 2001)
What makes Miss Parker’s character so interesting is that you never quite know what she’s capable of, or even what her job is exactly. We don’t even know what her first name is since everyone refers to her as either Miss Parker, Miss P, or Parker. Mr. Parker calls her ‘angel’, but we know that this is in not her real name. She also has a mysterious past that slowly begins to come out. Miss Parker was a happy child until her mother committed suicide. Sometime between Catherine Parker’s suicide and being brought down from corporate to find Jarod, Miss Parker transforms into the stone cold bitch. Miss Parker later learns that her mother faked her suicide, but was later murdered. Trying to find out what really happened to her mother, and track down the person who killed her, becomes more important than bringing back Jarod. But that doesn’t stop Miss Parker from trying to capture Jarod. She’s been given a task, and she will complete it. Her loyalty to The Centre never wavers despite the fact that she knows they manipulated her just as much as they manipulated Jarod. There is also a question of whether Mr. Parker is Miss Parker’s biological father. Or if he is the biological father of the child he has with his much younger second wife. In the early episodes of the show, Miss Parker trusts her father completely. As Mr. Parker betrays her time and time again, that trust begins to erode. Aside from Baby Parker, Miss Parker has two brothers. The despicable Mr. Lyle is her twin brother. They were separated at birth. Believe it or not, but Mr. Lyle is the evil twin. Miss Parker is downright cuddly compared to Mr. Lyle. Miss Parker and Jarod also share a half-brother.
“The Centre wants us to believe that finding the truth is a mistake, that looking for answers about who we really are is futile and finding any kind of... connection outside their control is wrong. I know you don't want to hear this but you can feel it. You've been a Centre prisoner all these years just like me. And with every discovery you find you're every bit the outcast. Just like me.” – Jarod to Miss Parker (The Pretender: Island of the Haunted, 2001)
While Miss Parker has inspired me ever since the first time I saw her – because how could I not want to grow up and be a bad ass, kick ass bitch like her? – she has inspired the main character of my novel even more. When I was naming my main character, I was torn between Shatner and Parker for Carrie’s last name. I ultimately went with Shatner simply because I knew I wouldn’t be able to refrain from referring to my character as Miss Parker. When I first started developing Carrie Shatner’s character, I was inspired by Miss Parker’s complex character and the mysteries of her past. Miss Parker is one of those morally ambiguous characters. She’s not perfect. In fact, she comes off as pretty evil. I didn’t want to go that extreme with Carrie Shatner, but I did make sure that my character’s moral compass points somewhere other than north. I also loved that Miss Parker is surrounded by these other villainous characters – some of whom have the occasional redeeming quality. I also wanted to give Carrie Shatner a tortured past that can unravel as the series progresses. Part of Carrie’s tortured past involves the criminal activities of her extended family members. More of Carrie’s past will come out as the series develops.
“Turning points only come when you've got something to turn to. I'm sorry. This isn't the different ending you were looking for. But it's just the way the damn story goes, Jarod.” – Miss Parker (The Pretender: Island of the Haunted, 2001)
If Criminal Misdeeds or any of the other Carrie Shatner Mysteries were made into a movie, Andrea Parker would be at the top of my list to play Carrie Shatner.