This season is jam-packed with women up front, staring in both TV comedy and drama. Women ages 18-45 make up the majority of network demographics so it’s no surprise that there’s more visibility on prime time TV. But who’s writing theses scripts (why does one have a creepy male voiceover? I’m looking at you Playboy Club) and is this the kind of representation we wanted when we asked for more stories about women?
(This trailer is BEGGING to be remixed, BTW.)
UPDATE: This show has been canceled by ABC after 3 episodes.
There’s been a lot written about this topic in this week. Here are my picks for best articles along with the main points of each followed by a list of female-centric shows, who wrote them and where to watch them.
“Why Is Television Loosing Women Writers? Veteran Producers Weigh In.” AOL TV by Maureen Ryan.
- “With women comprising a majority of the television viewing audience, this doesn’t make much sense. You would think it would be an advantage to have greater numbers of women on staff,” said Shawn Ryan (‘The Chicago Code,’ ‘Terriers,’ ‘The Shield’).
- “I think networks are panicking a little,” said Amy Berg (‘Eureka,’ ‘Leverage’). “With the emergence of digital media, no one is quite sure where the television industry is headed. How long will it be before content is created and distributed exclusively online? I think this, along with the country’s current economic instability, is making networks reach for their security blankets. They’re buying content from familiar faces with proven track records instead of taking risks with fresh voices. And if you’re a veteran of this industry, chances are you’re also a dude.”
- A study released by the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film at San Diego State University found the number of female characters has dropped from from a high of 43 percent in the 2007-2008 season to 41 percent in the 2010-2011 season.
- Networks aimed at female viewers are generally cautious and unlikely to pursue shows that take creative risks — and feature truly unconventional stories by and about women.
- “We’re not making art out here, we’re making programming that allows networks to sell ad dollars,” says Jill Soloway (‘Six Feet Under,’ ‘United States of Tara,’ ‘How to Make It in America’). “The only ad dollars that appeal solely to women only are diapers and cleaning products. The expensive ad dollars, like cars and air travel, must appeal to both genders. …Sometimes I watch ‘Louie,’ which, for my money, is one of the best shows I have ever seen on television, and wonder if … a network would air a show where a woman was talking about masturbating and farting (in an awesomely deep way, mind you). The answer is no — not because networks hate women, not because studios refuse to hire women creators — but because there is no brand that would be willing to be associated with the idea of such an anti-heroic woman.”
“Women And The New TV Line-Up” On Point – NPR with Tom Ashbrook. Originally aired Monday, September, 26th Guests: Mary Mcnamara from LA Times and Maureen Ryan from AOL TV
- Women, ages 18-45, make up network demographics. Statistically speaking, network TV is correcting the limited visibility of leading female roles in past years, which was driven by the success ratings of shows like Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. Network TV follows what’s en vogue and what makes success. So shows like 30 Rock and Parks that do well are going to set a template for what works and what gets ratings. As a result, network TV will churn out more funny girl shows since that’s what they think people like.
- Pan Am attempts to rewrite history: women weren’t able to mouth off, roll eyes at or shrug off the sexists comments of the pilots but that’s how the show plays it. Sexual discrimination wasn’t changed by women’s witty comebacks and snarky one-liners. It was changed by organizations, social revolutions & unions, none of which are pictured providing much needed context. It’s historically inaccurate and is the major difference when compared to Mad Men.
- With the new comedies (2 Broke Girls, Whitney, in particular) we are seeing a new “brand” of sexual humor where women use similar material to men but it’s said by a women, somehow making it better or funnier. (Cue discussion topic on “Are fart jokes feminist?”)
Mindy Kaling (The Office) mocks rom-coms and industry creativity in this New Yorker essay.
Nora Ephron asks us “Why Won’t Playboy Die?”
Gloria Steinem wrote a famous piece about being a Bunny, and made clear how shabby and pathetic life was at a Playboy Club. She recently called for women to boycott the show. I am currently boycotting so many television shows that I may not have time to boycott another.
Female TV Show Schedule.
Your loosely based guide on what to watch based primarily on gender politics and not on artistic execution.
Bold = about women Italics = women writer(s) or creators.
2 Broke Girls Monday, 8:30PM Created by Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings
Whitney Thursday, 9:30PM, Created by Whitney Cummings
30 Rock Thursday, 10PM, Created by Tina Fey
Parks and Recreations Thursday, 8:30PM Produced by Amy Poehler
Up All Night Wednesday, 8PM Created by Emily Spivey
Friday Night Lights Friday, 8PM One out of five exec producers is female: Sarah Aubrey
The Playboy Club Monday, 10PM Created and written by Chad Hodge, but he’s gay so that kinda counts as diversity. Kind of.
Hart of Dixie Monday, 9PM Created by Leila Gerstein
Gossip Girl Monday 26th, 8PM Novel written by Cecily von Ziegesar. Created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
Nikita Friday, 8PM Produced and edited by all men but about a woman.
The Secret Circle Thursday, 9PM A shy 16 year-old with powers. Written by LJ Smith (Female)
90210 Tuesday at 8PM Created by Rob Thomas, Gabe Sachs, Jeff Judah
Vampire Diaries Thursday, 8PM Written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec
Ringer Tuesday, 9pm Created by Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder
Revenge Wednesday, 10PM Created by Mike Kelley
New Girl Tuesday, 9PM Created by Elizabeth Meriwether, based on novel by R.L Stine (I know, right.)
Weeds, Monday 10PM, created by Jenji Kohan
The Big C, Monday, 10:30PM created by Darlene Hunt (again, 2 women out of main cast of 5)
Homeland (The nation sees a hero: She see’s a threat) Oct 2nd at 10PM About a women; created by slew of men…Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa, Gideon Raff
Enlightened Airs Oct 10th at 9:30PM Created by Mike White with Laura Dern as an executive producer
The Good Wife Sunday 25th at 9PM Created by Robert and Michelle King
PanAm Sunday, 10PM Created by Jack Orman Developed by Nancy Hult Ganis but written by a guy.
Charlie’s Angels Thursday, 8PM produced by Drew Barrymore but created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts.
Cougar Town Wednesday, 9:30PM Created by Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel.
Desperate Housewives Sunday, 9PM Created by Marc Cherry
Grey’s Anatomy Thursday, 9PM Created by Shonda Rhimes
Modern Family Wednesday 9PM Created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan
Suburgatory Wednesday, 8:30 Created by Emily Kapnek BUT this stars a father… with daughter and she’s from the city, which means she’s snarky.
*Special thanks to Candice Strongwater for helping compile all this data.
Anything missing? What are you watching this fall season?