There has been a lot of conversation in recent years about the imbalance of men television characters and women television characters. Unfortunately, TV has always been male-heavy and with few good role models for girls. Now, there is definitely still room for improvement, but I do think television has done much better the past few seasons, and this season may even be the best yet. We should not forget to keep asking for more, but I also think we should celebrate the victories! What can we celebrate for 2015-2016?
First, we see a lot more women as superheroes! Coming back this winter is Agent Carter! And while Peggy Carter does not have supernatural powers, she is part of the Marvel universe and I love the fact that she is a regular woman who makes herself relevant and valuable in a man’s world. Season 1 did so well that it got renewed! Hip hip hooray! On CW favorites Arrow and Flash, we see the women stepping up in this next season and fighting alongside the men. Laurel Lance really steps into role of the Black Canary, Thea Queen becomes Speedy, and from what I hear we may even see Caitlin Snow as Killer Frost. Yes, the men are still the central heroes, but The CW is proving that these superhero men cannot do it without their female counterparts. Perhaps the most exciting news for super-women is the premier of Supergirl! We get a full-length season on a major network that stars a woman as a superhero! So, folks, tune your TVs to CBS on Monday evenings this fall and prove that a superhero show starring a woman is worth the network’s time and money!
Second, more and more shows are giving the roles of powerful people to women. There’s Veep which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President and President of the United States. Madame Secretary that revolves around a female Secretary of State. Scandal which boasts Olivia Pope as the “fixer” of problems for some of the most powerful people in the world. The Americans where Elizabeth Jennings is not just the wife of a Soviet Intelligence Agent, but is a spy herself. And new show Quantico follows the lives of FBI recruits and most closely the story of a female recruit.
Third, we have seen, and will continue to see this season, an increase in seriously smart women on television. There’s Caitlin Snow on The Flash, Felicity Smoak on Arrow, and Jemma Simmons on Agents of S.H.I.E.l.D. that play women that use their knowledge of biology and computers to save their cities/the world (three cheers for women in STEM fields!). Bones is coming back, which means more of unbelievably intelligent forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. And, of course, there is the favorite from Shondaland, Annalise Keating, a well-respected professor and criminal defense attorney on How to Get Away with Murder.
Fourth, television makers are realizing that women are funny and deserve to show off their comedic talent on TV. Last season, we were introduced to the fresh voice of Gina Rodriguez who plays the titular character in dramedy Jane the Virgin. Mindy Kaling’s show The Mindy Project is getting a fourth season on Hulu. The sitcom Mom stars two women and one of Fresh Off the Boat’s most praised characters is a woman. This season we get another female-duo comedy in the forms of Maggie Lawson and Jane Lynch in Angel from Hell. While men may still lead the comedy industry, women are finding their stride and TV is beginning to take notice!
Lastly, there are many new television shows starting this year in which the main character is a woman and I, for one, am excited to see some growth. Here’s a pretty good (though maybe not complete) list:
- Shades of Blue
- The Catch
- Code Black
- Angel from Hell
- Scream Queens
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
- Jessica Jones
Plus, there are many female-heavy or female-starring television shows not even mentioned above! Thank you, television creators and execs for beginning to listen to your viewers and starting to realize that female characters have just as much to give to the world of television as male ones.
Television audiences, let’s prove this theory right with our viewership and fanship by tuning into programs that communicate women can be anything they want to be.