A few years ago, Warner Bros made waves when its executive Jeff Robinov said that the studio would not be green lighting any shows or movies about women. Sure, women could play supporting roles on the screen but a show in which the woman was the main character? Nope! (Gross. Just Gross.) Not long after that CBS cut the one female leading actor it had on its network out of her show and reduced the other strong female character’s episode run. (More Gross.)
There was, as you can imagine, a backlash.
Since then, it seems that Hollywood and the Networks are starting to pay attention. This year’s Emmy Nominees are in and of the shows nominated, 3 of the 5 comedy series are female driven. 3 of the 5 Dramatic series feature incredibly strong female characters. And lest you think, “yeah but cookie cutter Barbie actresses, right?” the women nominated for lead and supporting actress roles is anything but cookie cutter. Maggie Smith, Clare Danes, Robin Wright, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, et al—not one cookie cutter “typical” Hollywood bombshell among them.
Not that they aren’t beautiful—they all are, but in beautiful and unique ways. It’s about time the short, the curvy, the brazen and the vintage (sorry Maggie) got their due!
What is particularly exciting is not just the representation of powerful female characters and identifiable protagonists represented by the Emmys. What’s exciting is the variety available in prime time (and online, which we’ll get to in a minute).
Now our daughters can turn on prime time and see smart, talented and interesting women on the Big Bang Theory, Mike and Molly, The Good Wife, The Mindy Project, Parks and Rec, Nashville, Scandal, etc. (though you might want to be present for some of these shows).
This trend is exploding online as well, where women are taking matters into their own hands. Felicia Day—the brains behind The Guild and the Geek and Sundry Network on YouTube didn’t wait for anybody to tell her she was ready for Primetime. She used the web to build her empire and what a successful empire she’s built. She stars in her own shows, runs her own network, executive produces a number of projects. Wow.
Then—though you really don’t want to let your younger kids watch until they’re older—there’s Netflix. Netflix followed up its House of Cards success with Orange is the New Black (a television series based on the memoir of the same name). Orange is the New Black is the story of Piper Chapman, a woman who was sent to prison after being convinced by her (ex at the start of the series)girlfriend to carry a suitcase full of money as part of an international drug operation. The story documents how she deals with the challenges that face her—a WASP—in a women’s correctional facility.
The show starts out feeling one dimensional—including the main character. As the episodes progress, however, the main and supporting characters grow and gain dimension and sympathy and by the end of the tenth (and last of the first season) episode, you’re screaming “I have to wait HOW LONG for the next season to be uploaded to the system?!?”
It’s an exciting time. With the progress we’ve made in the past few years, who knows how far women can go in the years to come. I can’t wait to see how my daughters respond to so many positive (maybe not in Orange is the New Black but in other shows) role models.