First off, can we kill this trend of calling adult females “girls”? And please quit using it as television show titles? I’m looking at you,”New Girl” and “GIRLS”. I understand it’s just history repeating itself (“Golden Girls”, “That Girl”), but for some reason I feel that in this decade we should have at least one show with “Boys” in the title. I guess “2 and Half Men” sort of counts, but even the young son was considered half a man. Is it just me? Okay, rant over. Back to the NY Magazine article titled “The New Girls”, featuring a roundtable interview with six of today’s female network TV showrunners.
Although I’m not a hardcore fan of any of their shows, I did actually gain some insight into what it’s like for these women:
- Networks are uncertain of how to market funny women, hence the term “adorkable”
- Audiences are becoming more accepting of flawed female characters, yet networks are still apprehensive
- It’s okay to be “woman-y” in the writers’ room, even…gasp…raunchy
However, I also see a glaring problem. Industry roundtables such as these have a history of pointing out just how far we still have to go if we’re going to represent the changing demographic of this country. In “Thoughts on the Lack of Diversity in the Media”, blogger Andrea Pippins delves into the truest revelation behind the widespread backlash against Lena Dunham and the lack of diversity on “GIRLS”. No matter how much we protest, one cannot expect for the “other” to represent them. Instead underrepresented groups must encourage one another to pursue careers in the various arts. Only then with more diverse thinking in the inner industry circle can we expect diverse programming. All of our hopes can’t just rest on Shonda Rhimes’ shoulders, people. So in the case of network sitcom television, the solution is that we need more people of color in positions of power in the media.
Check out these network initiatives for artists of color/emerging talent:
Disney|ABC Writing Program *accepting applications through June 1st, 2012*
NBC Writers on the Verge – *application deadline is June 29th, 2012*
Lastly, I’d like to leave you with this food for thought. One of the showrunner’s response to male execs commenting on the rise of female-centered sitcoms (“vagina saturation”):
“…shows are for humans and movies are for humans. They’re not for men or women, and whether it’s created by a man or woman—hopefully it’s created by a human! And other humans will enjoy it, be they male or female.”
–Emily Spivey (“Up All Night” on NBC)
Okay, so I’m chewing on this, but then I scrolled down to the one lonely commenter who responded to how the women skirted around the topic of the “GIRLS” diversity criticism:
“The real reason television has become more whitewashed: feminism is the new racism.”
That comment alone is worthy of an entire post, but for now I will say this: The tides are in fact turning across the television screens of America. Just remember, a revolution for one group can sometimes be a giant step back for another. As a 20-something Black woman, will I ever stumble upon a NY Magazine article profiling a Black female showrunner talking about her acclaimed sitcom starring a Black female lead?