Criticwire’s sister site Women and Hollywood announced today that they’ve hired Alyssa Rosenberg to write a weekly television column. Given that she already writes sharp-eyed essays on TV for ThinkProgress, where she’ll continue as Features Editor, we wondered what she had planned for the new gig and reached out with a few questions over email.
You write about TV for ThinkProgress and have written about it for other outlets. How do you envision this column being different?
I’m excited to be at Women and Hollywood because Melissa [Silverstein]’s offered me a terrific space to go long on one of the subjects I’ve come to care most about as a critic: the way roles for women on television are evolving as we enter what appears to be a new age in the medium, and how the work of women behind the camera affects what we see on our screens. I l think my work at ThinkProgress and my work at Women and Hollywood will build on each other; I’m excited to take the ideas that grow out of the daily routine of blogging, like the lack of female anti-heroes, the forgotten legacy of Sex and the City, or what women on TV seem to want, and to build them out for Women and Hollywood, and also to do original thinking and reporting for the site.
What perspective(s) do you want to bring to the conversation? What’s not being covered, or not being covered the way you’d like?
In terms of my perspective, I’m a genre nerd, a lover of procedurals, a former trade reporter, and a bit of a romantic — as well as someone who grew up without much in the way of access to film or television, so hopefully a set of fresh eyes on tropes it’s easy to take as settled and accepted. Right now, on television I’m excited by FX’s attempts to experiment with new kinds of unlikable female characters, the breakout work of comediennes like Amy Schumer and Tig Notaro, and the continuing attempts to figure out how lady sitcoms are going to work on network television. And I’ve been having a lot of fun writing about our move away from the anti-hero trope and into new, more adventurous and ambiguous territory.
The Television Critics’ Association’s membership is roughly 50 percent female, which is much greater than the 18 percent of women reviewing for major film outlets Why do you think that is?
I think there are a couple of explanations. Some of it may be the relative historical prestige of the different mediums: because television was long viewed as more commercial, and to a certain extent, more female-oriented (at least when it comes to soaps), I think it’s been a bit more open to female critics. And I think that sites like Television Without Pity credentialed an amazing generation of female critics like Emily Nussbaum and Linda Holmes, who have opened up a lot of space for the rest of us, and been wonderful mentors to people like me. I’ve always found television critics to be a community that’s eager to welcome new members, which probably helps, too, which is not to say that film critics are unwelcoming, but I think television critics spend an unusual amount of time talking to each other, which is one of the reasons I’ve been drawn to write about television as much as I do.