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Fall TV and Feminism: A First Look at the Upfronts

Fall TV and Feminism: A First Look at the Upfronts

It’s upfronts time, when advertisers get an early look at the networks’ fall lineups — which means we’re getting news about some of the fare we can look forward to in a few months. And while I’m not blown away by the originality of many of the following shows (will our obsession with cop and hospital procedurals never die?), there are some reasons for hope. Here’s a selection of them:

–Supergirl

“You may know his story — but you don’t know mine,” says Melissa Benoist in “Supergirl,” CBS’s long-awaited drama from Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler, Andrew Kreisberg and Sarah Schechter. Calista Flockhart (remember her?) also stars as Kara’s media mogul boss. Given our recent lamenting of the treatment of women in comic-book series, this could be a serious step forward. That said, reception to the footage has been iffy. (My favorite: “@danielradosh: Wow, Supergirl trailer is so exactly SNL’s Black Widow sketch. Wish I coulda seen faces at CBS when that aired.”) But we haven’t seen the show yet, so here’s hoping it transcends its rom-commy trailer.



–Jane Lynch

In CBS’ “Angel from Hell,” the saucy comic plays a sort of wayward guardian angel to a type-A doctor (Maggie Lawson) who thinks she may just be a crazy person — except that the angel’s warnings always turn out to be true. Executive producers include Emmy Award winner Don Scardino of “30 Rock,” always a good sign.

–Mireille Enos

The talented star of “The Killing” takes the lead in another drama, this time ABC’s “The Catch,” about a fraud investigator (Enos) who finds she’s been scammed by her own fiancé and vows to track him down.

–Dianne Wiest

CBS’s “Life in Pieces” focuses on telling the story of one family via its various members, who include Wiest, Zoe Lister Jones, Betsy Brandt and Angelique Cabral.

–Muppets

ABC’s new show was developed by Bill Prady of “The Big Bang Theory” and plans a “The Office”-style mockumentary (the style itself is mocked in the trailer) on the “real” lives of Muppets.

–Priyanka Chopra

This Indian film star takes the lead in “Quantico,” ABC’s drama (which has reportedly been called “Grey’s Anatomy” meets “Homeland”), about a young woman just joining the FBI who’s implicated in a terrorist attack and must figure out who among her fellow recruits is the real bad guy.  

–Martha Plimpton

The trailer for this comedy, “The Real O’Neals,” about a Catholic family trying and failing to adhere to the tenets of its religion (divorce and homosexuality are brought up immediately) also stars Jay R. Ferguson, who’s been a bright spot on “Mad Men” the past couple of seasons. But the real promise in its pedigree is producer Dan Savage, upon whose life the series was originally based. It looks like ABC moved the comedy in a different, less provocative direction, but with Savage’s involvement, it could still have some edge.

–Jamie Lee Curtis

Ryan Murphy and his “Glee” co-creators are behind “Scream Queens,” Fox’s horror-comedy about college-campus murders on the 20th anniversary of a sorority killing. Emma Roberts, Keke Palmer, Lea Michele and Abigail Breslin are also in the cast, which makes this one of the most female-heavy offerings of the bunch.

–Hopefully, a genre send-up

The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” stars comic Rachel Bloom as an ambitious woman on a desperate search for love. Bloom’s background — she’s a frequent contributor to “Robot Chicken” and was nomimated for a Hugo Award for her 2010 viral video, “Fuck Me Ray Bradbury” — makes me optimistic. Bloom’s also a co-writer of the series.

–Epidemic panic

Atlanta is the setting for the CW’s “Cordon,” in which an unknown illness strikes the city. The show focuses on those trapped inside the quarantine limits. The producer is Julie Plec of “The Vampire Diaries,” adapting a Belgian show.

–“Memento”-like tats

NBC’s drama starts with a woman being found in a suspicious bag in Times Square. She’s alive, she’s naked, she’s covered with ink and she has no memory. So far, so sensationalist — but “Blindspot” looks like it could become more than that. The trailer shows protagonist Jane (Jaimie Alexander) wielding some Bourne-like skills as she tries to figure out her backstory and teams up with the FBI agent (Sullivan Stapleton) whose name is tattooed on her back.

–Melissa George

Aussie actress George anchors NBC’s medical drama, “Heartbreaker,” about a surgeon who’s the best in her field (cardiology, get it?) but a mess in the rest of her life. It’s not the world’s most original or progressive premise, but George is a talented actress who looks like she’s channeling a little “House”-like snark in the preview.

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