BEST FEMALE LEAD TV SHOWS
There’s no question that entertainment lacks representation of females of various backgrounds. But over the years, and most recently, there has been a bundle of shows that feature strong female characters. From Veep to Firefly this is a list of the best female lead TV shows over the years. When viewers turn on their TV they no longer have to see a damsel in distress. Finally Television is giving its female viewers characters that we can relate to and be inspired by. (This list is in no particular order)
Scandal is a political thriller that airs on the TV network ABC. The hit series was created by Shonda Rhimes (Greys Anatomy) who is also the executive producer. The series stars Kerry Washington who plays Olivia Pope. Olivia Pope owns her own crisis management firm where she is a “fixer”. Pope represents a wide variety of clientele, from rape victims to hate crime victims. Besides the fact that this is one of the only shows on TV with an African American female lead, the show has an ensemble cast of various extraordinary female characters who won’t let anyone stand in the way of getting what they want.
2.Grace and Frankie
Grace and Frankie is a comedy series created by Marta Kauffman (Friends) that streams on Netflix. The currently prime time Emmy nominated series stars Jane Fonda (Grace) and Lily Tomlin (Frankie) as two women who find out their husbands are a little more than business partners when they announce they are in love with each other and want a divorce after 50 years of marriage. Trying to cope with the pain and betrayal, the two main characters (who never really liked each other) bond and form a friendship like no other. It is immensely refreshing to watch a TV show about older women for a change.
3.Orange Is The New Black
Orange Is The New Black is a comedy-drama created by Jenji Kohan (Weeds) that streams on Netflix. If you haven’t heard of this prime time Emmy nominated show by now you must be living under a rock. OITNB is based of off the memoir “Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Womens Prison” by Piper Chapman. The show revolves around Piper Chapman’s experience in a minimum security womens prison. For starters, pretty much the whole cast is an ensemble of highly talented women of every age who come from various backgrounds. The show represents female identity in a practical way with its characters. The characters deal with many societal problems like sexism, racism, trans-phobia and even mental illness
Veep is a political comedy created by Armando Iannucci that airs on HBO. The TV show that has been nominated for six Prime time Emmys stars Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Nominated for a Outstanding Lead Actress) as Selina Meyer a Vice President who is navigating her way through the white house with her quirky entourage. Don’t go looking for your average femme fatale in Veep, besides the VP’s right hand woman Amy (portrayed by Anna Chlumsky), because the main character is just as arrogant and irresponsible as her male counterparts which is what make the show so funny. Selina Meyers is just your average politician who has sold her soul and will do anything to win Presidential candidacy.
Firefly is a space western sci-fi series, written by Joss Whedon (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer) that takes place in 2517. The action packed TV show stars Nathan Fillion (Mal), as the captain of a Fire-fly spaceship vessel called Serenity, and GinaTorres (Zoe), who portrays his first mate. Fillion is accompanied by a brilliant crew of bandits who travel the galaxy preforming various tasks for clients while staying out of the alliance’s radar. The show has many inspiring diverse female characters and even represents a gay relationship in one episode. Although the show only lasted one season it was highly praised and even received an Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.
6.Jane The Virgin
Jane The Virgin is a comedy drama created by Jennie Snyder Urman based of off the telenovela Juana la Virgen. The highly praised series stars Gina Rodriguez (Best Actress in A Television series) as Jane, a young virgin who becomes pregnant after being artificially inseminated. Only on its second season, the show has an amazing cast of predominately Latino American characters and has already picked up a Peoples Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy. The second season is set to air in October and it has already been announced that Britney Spears will be guest starring.
7.) Don’t Trust The B**** In Apt 23
Don’t Trust the B**** in Apt 23 is a sitcom about two roommates who live in New York trying to make ends meet. The series was created by Nahnatchka Khan, although the show was cancelled after two seasons and didn’t pick up many awards, the cast was admirable and the show itself definitely had its laughs. Don’t Trust The B**** in Apt 23 is a perfect example of sexism in Hollywood. The sitcom can be added to the list of many female lead TV shows being cancelled too early because they don’t appeal to male viewers, despite the fact that females are the ones watch the most television. Krysten Ritter stars as one of the main characters, Chloe, who is not what society would deem as the average female. Chloe is confident and free spirited, character traits that can easily be seen as negative when you are a woman due to double standards. Chloe resembles a present day Holly Golightly, she loves having one night stands and is the complete opposite of nurturing. She is the cool party girl that everyone wants to be friends with. At first it may seem as though Chloe has no feelings, but in all actuality she is just too tough to show them. There needs to be more female characters like Chloe on TV to show a strong, independent, rather strange, and definitely different type of woman, who embodies the ideas of many young women today.
MOVIE REVIEW: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Guest writer Sebastian Evans-Cuervo
Fast paced, action packed, and thrilling, Mad Max: Fury Road, beautifully directed by George Miller, is definitely a must see film. From the exhilarating camera angles, to real live stunts, this high octane movie literally has you on the edge of your seat, couch, futon or whatever you may be sitting on. This is one of those films that I, as well as other avid movie lovers, believe have raised the bar not only for cinematography but for female representation, in particular Charlize Theron’s character: Imperator Furiosa. The film is based in a post-apocalyptic world bearing only miles of sand, rocks, and dirt. Inhabited by bandits, pirates, and elitists who ruthlessly rule over their subjects, one must be more cunning and savage than the enemy if they wish to survive. Furiosa is strong, driven and quick-witted making her the perfect person to destroy the main antagonist, Immortan Joe’s (Hugh Keays-Byrne) legacy by transporting his prized breeders to safer lands, otherwise known as the Green place. This does not go as planned seeing that the Green place has become arid and desolate since Furiosa’s capture. With the help of Max, Furiosa heads back towards Immortan Joe’s land where there are resources necessary to live and eventually ends up killing the ruler along the way.
Characters like Furiosa are exactly what is missing from mainstream media in our world today. There needs to be more strong-willed and driven female characters that women of all ages can identify with in movies, t.v. shows and other types of media. There are many female representations out there that undermine women and their abilities. Furiosa is a character that says “bullocks to what you want me to do! I’m going to do what I want to do!” She drives towards her goals and doesn’t let disappointment create a permanent barrier. Furiosa is definitely a character that should encompass the essence of female representation. Not only is she a character that most females would gladly identify with because of her character traits, but can also be identified with because of her imperfections. Furiosa has a robotic arm! (Which is pretty awesome by the way) It shows that you don’t have to be perfect in order to be successful (or be a badass for that matter). I certainly hope that more strong female characters get put into media circulation so that young women can identify with wholesome and empowering characters that inspire us to achieve and think for ourselves rather than ones that care what people and society think.
THE REALITY OF TV
When I was a little girl, I remember always wanting to be a pop star or supermodel. All the girls I saw on television were pop stars, and models, so naturally that is what I wanted to be. All the characters that I saw in the media had a very strong influence, the good and the bad equally.
A majority of the time women on television are being portrayed as shallow people, who do not have any true aspirations in life besides the maintenance of their physical appearance, and once they are faced with a real problem, they are unable to solve it themselves. There is usually a Prince Charming who comes to save the day. There is never a lead female character having a destiny or trying to save the world. As I got older I had to ask myself why the media portrays women this way
So the problem is, there is a lack of representation of strong females in the media. A lot of the female characters that young, impressionable children are watching usually fit certain negative stereotypes associated with females in society. If television can shape girls to lead the runway it can also shape them to lead countries.
It is safe to say that Children watch a lot of television. MissRepresentation.org reported that “American teenagers spend: 31 hours a week watching T.V. 17 hours a week listening to music 3 hours a week watching movies 4 minutes a week reading magazines and 10 hours a week online.” A lot of busy parents come home from work and they are exhausted . They do not want to have to deal with their children so they put them in front of the Television screen. Marie Winn argues in her essay “Television:the Plug in Drug” that parents place children in front of the television to act like a babysitter “a mother reported that she turns on the television set when her kids are arguing rather than actually solving the problem.”(262.) The amount of time that children spend watching television should not be completely frowned upon if the show is a good quality show.
What is a good quality show versus a bad quality show? One example of a bad quality show could be reality television. There has been a huge rise of popularity in reality television. A lot of the reality television shows center on a certain kind of female characters. Usually the characters are catty and vindictive always arguing with the other females or competing with one another.
A very good example is America’s Next Top Model, in the show there is a group of girls competing to be models. The show has challenges were the contestants perform tasks,and are forced to compete against the other girls. At first glance this show just seems like another reality television show that exists for our entertainment but, when looked at in detail, the show is ingraining something else into young girls. A lot of the contestants dropped out of college or high school just to pursue their lifelong dream of being a model. This is telling girls that your looks are more important than your education. Once the show is stripped down, it comes to realization that the contestants are competing with their looks. Every week the contestants did a photoshoot and were put in front of a panel of judges who would tell them if they look good enough or not. The host of the show, former supermodel Tyra Banks, had a catch phrase where she would ask the girls “If they have what it takes to be on top?”, and if you didn’t you were sent home. This is a big problem in society. Girls are always competing for something, whether it be who is the best dressed or for the affection of a man (exaggeration). Television shows like America’s Next Top Model are contributing to the problem. No one television show can be the complete blame for how children act and behave but it can be a contributing factor.
The lack and misleading representation of strong females in the media is a problem that cannot simply be solved overnight. It is a complex topic that has to do with how women are treated overall in society. Ariel Levy touches lightly on the topic in her essay “Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture” she supports my argument by stating “Is it worth asking ourselves if this world of boobs and gams we have resurrected reflects how far we have come, or how far we have left to go.”(161.). It is clear that society has a new found fascination with raunchy reality television shows. These television shows want you to believe that they are apart of the women’s liberation movement when in all actuality they are just setting us back.
MISS REPRESENTATION: MOVIE TO WATCH
A Few Reasons to Watch Miss Representation
The idea that something can warp our ideas of ourselves, other people, and society altogether seems impossible; However, media strongly impacts our culture, shapes our society, and most people do not recognize its dominating influence. The documentary Miss Representation puts the media’s control over society into perspective. It is an eye opening movie, with shocking reveals that should be common knowledge.
When watching this movie with my mother, her reaction was astounding. She sat me down and had a long talk about body image, sexuality, and how to be strong no matter what anyone tells me. If only other women had the same push to be strong.
It is incredible to thinking of the impact media has upon us. With teenagers spending 30 hours a week watching television, Magazines being the new literature of our generation and commercials found from TV, to boards on the side of the road, it is impossible to deny the media’s everyday impact on society.
Many people today still do not understand the political economy of television. In commercials, an image is set of unimaginable beauty by using this beauty product, being more powerful by driving this car. The media creates these images of perfection in order to make money. And without this product, you are not as beautiful, not as powerful, the image in your mind is shifted to think you are not good enough.
And this Media affects women in an incredibly significant way. There is so much negativity in the media towards women, their weight, and how they should look, which represents the pressure females feel to conform to men’s ideals. There is a concept of the perfect woman and how she must look and act a certain way and the women who do not are scrutinized.
The idea of beauty is more extreme and impossible than ever. Before there was only cosmetics. Now there is Photoshop to create the perfect woman and a higher standard for females. “Females measure themselves against an impossible standard,” says Jean Kilbourne in Miss Representation.
Females are made to think looks are the only important thing to have, and men who are shown pictures of supermodels that are photoshopped to perfection then judge women much more harshly. Miss Representation takes testimonies of young girls who have been affected by the strong influence of the media. Miss representation tells how 65% of females have an eating disorder, 17% cut or give physical harm to themselves (due to bullying from peers or their own self-image not seeming to be good enough), and the rates of depression among females has doubled between 2000 and 2010.
Brain development only reaches the full potential into the mid-twenties of a human’s life. Teens are ruled primarily by emotions during this time. Full cognitive function is not there for teens to distinguish what is true and what is fantasy. Teens are a much more vulnerable class of society.
Our society features anorexic actresses and models, and even those without eating disorders photoshopped to seem as such. We are conditioned to think that this is what women should look like.
Miss representation is a movie for all mothers, fathers, teenagers, male or female, and anyone else who has been affected by the media, and especially for those who are blind to the media’s role in our lives. After watching this movie, I myself felt a surge of power, determination and pride for the women who have done so much to get us this far. But it is up to us to not allow that power to be taken from us once again.
GAME OF THRONES: SEXIST OR FEMINIST ?
A long time argument based upon the idea A Game of Thrones is sexist or feminist has blown up feminist web pages since the show aired in April 17, 2011. There seems to be no middle ground in this debate; it is either a profane and porn riddled disaster, or an underlying surge of feminism.
The sexualization of women, the various body types and ages of women, the raping and pillaging of women, the multitudes of powerful female characters, the unequal representation of sexualization between men and women.
Each person is entitled to their own reasons for A Game of Thrones sexism or feminism, as there are so many valid arguments on said subject. But overall, A Game of Thrones is neither feminist nor sexist.
I say this because of the basis of A Game of Thrones on historical events. George R.R. Martin has admitted himself that the beloved Fantasy world of A Game of Thrones is more than just loosely based on real events in history.
History Behind Game of Thrones is a website that goes into deep detail of the ties between historical events and A Game of Thrones. It cannot be denied that history has not been kind to women and that women in medieval history were treated horribly.
George R.R. Martin represents treatment of women in his novels in a realistic manner. The television show is branching off from the original plot line of the novel series: A Song of Ice and Fire; however, the treatment of the women are still in line with their treatment in history.
Most historical writings focus primarily on the white male, and reflect the attitudes of the professional historians, who are predominantly white males. To represent sexism is to show the reality of a situation that may not be widely spoken about.
A Game of Thrones takes perspectives of women to get a broader understanding of the setting and plot that were based on actual events. The oppression and sexism seen in the show and novel merely depicts what life would be like for minorities in the time period it is based upon.
History Behind Game of Thrones: http://history-behind-game-of-thrones.com/