We still might not have a female superhero movie, but female-centric TV shows are now more prominent than ever.
There really has never been a better time for women in television. Shows like Orange is the New Black, revolutionary with the almost completely female cast and the brilliant portrayal of LGBT characters, show that, ladies, it is possible to break through that television testosterone barrier. Female showrunners, writers and producers are available in spades; programmes like New Girl highlight how largely popular sitcoms can be created and run by women; and similarly popular drama/thriller The Killing is also largely female directed and written. And the great thing about these and other similar examples is that they are genuinely popular.
The rise of prominent women in the TV industry has to be related to the influx of female showrunners and writers
Whether that be on social media or on the award circuit, these shows are being watched and loved, and, most importantly, being taken seriously. This rise of prominent women in the television industry has to be related to the influx of the aforementioned female showrunners and writers. The connection can be no coincidence – who better to understand and write for a woman than a woman herself? It seems that this wave of female actors in television being seen as genuinely equal to (if not better than) the men in independent, strong roles is down to the equally strong and innate voices of their female writer counterparts.
In television, there’s a broad range of programming out there. With literally thousands of channels to flick through, the varied audience of young and old all have to be catered to. Who is to say that all in this audience want to watch male-oriented dramas? Also in TV, the range and complexity of a character is explored through several seasons – here, a viewer is able to see the true depth of a female character generally better than in film. This character development builds a connection between character and viewer, allowing the viewer to put faith in a female character’s ability to carry a show effectively, and just as effectively as a male.
Conversely, it’s no hushed secret that the film industry is largely led by males, whether that be the men who create the movies or the men who star in them. The directors of household name status are reserved for the likes of Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock. The film genres that undoubtedly gain commercial success, the action blockbusters, the thrillers, the horrors: who are the protagonists the vast majority of the time?
In a time where sexism in the TV industry will soon be left in the dust, the movie business is embarrassingly slow to catch on
With films, it’s conventionally about what will gain the most revenue, the most award circuit and media attention. Few are brave enough to create these types of films with the looming fear of a classic box office dud, and few stray outside invisible movie genre guidelines; it’s chick comedies and rom-coms for the ladies, action thrillers for the men. The key to women being seen with more gravitas in the movie business is showing them in a range of roles, as in television. If girls grow up thinking that women can’t possibly be brave and ballsy superheroes like men, and can only star as the heavily sexualised female side characters, can you really blame them for not growing up and creating these serious and impressive roles for women in film?
Women desperately need to be seen in a more serious light in movies, and in the industry itself. Is this all just an issue of the women and men who work in this business not wanting to change ancient attitudes due to a fear of a loss in revenue, or down to there not being enough women in the industry in general? There are women working in the movie business, but they’re never the large decisions makers, the executives, the ones who would have the power to create more female-centric movies – and this is a fact that needs to be altered.
In a time where blatant sexism in the television industry seems to be an issue that will soon be left in the dust, the movie business is embarrassingly slow to catch on. Television has showed and will continue to show that women can shine in the roles that cinema reserves for the males. The key to attitudes in the film business and particularly in female roles changing is down to the people in charge. The movie business needs to follow the lead of this new wave of high-powered female television executives, and consequently change how women are perceived in the movies.
Featured image: Netflix
Inset image: FOX