As I was going through my color coded Excel spreadsheet for this fall television season, I began to notice something: this season, all the characters that people are REALLY talking about are women.
OK, maybe not all, but a pretty big chunk, especially compared to previous seasons. This isn’t to say that most shows on TV right now have women as major players on screen, but it’s definitely the ladies that are developing a lot of the buzz. Characters we’ve seen before, like Parks And Recreation‘s Leslie Knope, are getting a prominent amount of play, but there are also breakout characters like Donna (who is getting her own Twitter account) getting a lot of media attention. Regular sitcoms like New Girl and Happy Endings are coming back, and their band of lady BFFs have been popular since the shows first started; the same with shows like 2 Broke Girls and HBO’s Girls (neither of which I will delve into, because I don’t have time for that).
The biggest and most promising newcomer on the sitcom block has to be Mindy Kaling, formerly of The Office, and now writer/producer/star/basically the Oprah of FOX’s The Mindy Project. Since the show leaked on Hulu earlier this summer, Kaling has been looking at some great numbers for the season premiere, which is doubly exciting for us: not only is it another woman at the helm of an ensemble comedy cast, but she is also a woman of color, which we do not get to see very often.
The drama realm is even more interesting this season, with the return of the much talked about (and super fantastic) Scandal, headed up by Kerry Washington as the super slick, maverick crisis manager Olivia Pope, along with her fantastic(ally good looking) supporting cast on ABC. Scandal is going head to head with Elementary, a new show on CBS, the network that’s home of my sweet, sweet lovecake Criminal Minds, as well as The Mentalist. (Although I don’t actually know any people who are into The Mentalist.) Elementary, brings us everyone’s favorite everything Lucy Liu as Joan Watson, a character who has been at the center of social media chatter for months now.
Also showing up to rock you like a hurricane is The Walking Dead‘s highly anticipated new character Michonne, played by Danai Gurira. If you haven’t looked her up and are in need of a personal hero, usher yourself over to Google right now. The actress is as badass as the comic book-to-screen character she will be playing (and Lois and I will certainly be loving). On a personal note, Danai also co-wrote the amazing two woman play In The Continuum, which I highly recommend you find and read.
Can you believe that I’ve just spent an entire paragraph talking about three women of color, in three prominent roles on prime time shows? That hasn’t happened in what I would scientifically call “a hot minute”.
It’s important to note all of these impressive shows and characters (of which there are certainly more). Even with these new developments, there still seems to be a push with a lot of debuting programming to focus almost exclusively on men. (Mostly White men, who are clearly woefully underrepresented or something.) This is kind of a huge bummer, especially considering the clear success so many networks have had with shows that include more gender diverse ensembles. But as more shows come out like Go On, Animal Practice, and Guys With Kids, we’ll just have to see who is really up to the challenge. And, as usual, the mid-season brings with it even more potential.