Fall TV season has arrived. As we excitedly dive into a fresh season, what is the state of female participation in creative content? I gathered a list of new shows and looked at their creative teams, noting the number of women that serve as show creators, writers, directors, or producers. And gosh, the results were depressing.
My informal assessment is by no means comprehensive. First, I only looked at the most talked-about network shows that are premiering this fall including: Go On, The New Normal, Guys With Kids, Revolution, The Mob Doctor, Partners, Ben and Kate, The Mindy Project, Vegas, Animal Practice, The Neighbors, Last Resort, Elementary, Made in Jersey, 666 Park Avenue, Arrow, Chicago Fire, Nashville, Beauty and the Beast, Emily Owens M.D., and Malibu Country.
Wanna know how many of these shows were created or co-created by women? Six. Out of 21 new shows, only six have a woman as a creator and co-creator.
Ben and Kate
Fox, Tuesdays, 8:30pm
Dana Fox is the creator of this show. She was the writer of The Wedding Date (2005) and What Happens in Vegas (2008). She is joined by director Jake Kasdan and executive producers Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. Early reviews are positive for this sibling comedy.
The Mindy Project
Fox, Tuesdays, 9:30pm
Mindy Kaling serves as show creator, writer, producer, and star of this new comedy. For that alone, The Mindy Project is worth a watch. I’m apprehensive that the show’s premise is about an awkward OB/GYN who is obsessed with finding love. There is a faint Sex and the City’s “post-feminism” vibe to that premise. However, it’s a show with an Indian-American OB/GYN as the central character. With the current spotlight on women’s reproductive rights this election, it’ll be refreshing to encounter female health and gyno-related topics on network television. Plus, it’s Mindy Kaling. Her work is wickedly funny.
Made In Jersey
CBS, Fridays, 9pm
Dana Calvo helms the ship of this new legal drama. A healthy number of women also serve as producers. It’s a pity that the show looks like it’s trying too hard.
ABC, Wednesdays, 10pm
Nashville is co-created, directed, and written by Callie Khouri. Yup, the same woman behind Thelma and Louise. The story revolves around two feuding country vocal artists, played by Connie Britton (so glad she finally is the lead in a show!) and Hayden Panettiere. Two dynamic actresses. Score one for ABC.
Emily Owens, M.D.
CW, Tuesdays, 9pm
Jennie Snyder Urman is the show creator of Emily Owens, MD. She also serves as executive producer. Despite its obvious borrowings from Grey’s Anatomy, Emily Owens is worth tuning into, if for no other reason than the delightful Mamie Gummer (the daughter of Meryl Streep) plays the lead role.
The New Normal
NBC, Tuesdays, 9:30pm
This show isn't solely created by a woman; Alison Adler serves as co-creator with Ryan Murphy. But from the press the show has received you'd think that Ryan Murphy was the sole creator. But we are giving Adler her due. The jury is still out on this show. Initially I was hopeful for the show. You’ve got three generations of women (the surrogate mother Goldie, her daughter, and her grandmother) engaging with soon-to-be dads Bryan and David. Initial reviews have not been favorable. As Alyssa Rosenberg put it: “[G]iven that Murphy co-created The New Normal with Ali Adler, herself a lesbian, it’s too bad that one of the most prominent and powerful creators of stories about gay men in pop culture has decided to portray lesbians as uglier, less cool, and more boring than gay men.”
It is always important to see who is working behind the screen. One trend we are noticing is that as TV brings in people and new voices to create and write shows they are making sure to have experienced showrunners to team with people who have limited or no experience getting a show on the air. Whether you like admitting it or not, men and women offer different perspectives and experiences. Diverse voices in the writers’ room often lead to greater diversity of characters and situations on screen.
C’mon, Hollywood. Do better.