Women Take Over Primetime TV
Friday, September 16, 2011
The new fall TV season is upon us and there's a not so subtle subtext: women rule.
The primetime lineup is dominated by new half-hour comedies featuring women in the lead roles, including HBO's much anticipated Girls and network sitcoms New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel (FOX), Two Broke Girls (CBS) and Whitney (NBC). Hanna Rosin says the trend reflects a new reality in America: the rise of women in the workforce and in higher education.
Rosin's 2010 Atlantic cover story, "The End of Men," described "a new kind of alpha female stirring up anxiety and, occasionally, fear." The article was a popular read among sitcom writers, and it may have helped set the stage for some of the new shows.
Meanwhile, the Great Recession has hit men hardest and their counterparts on TV are more goofy, incompetent, and powerless than ever before. We've always had lovable male losers, says Rosin, but in shows like How to be a Gentleman (CBS), Last Man Standing, and Man Up! (both ABC), "the guys are not kings of their own loser domain, and there are endless numbers of women eating their lunch." She tells Kurt Andersen that men are under siege from "sisters, wives, colleagues — all kinds of women who are just traipsing through these shows stomping on the men constantly."
Emasculated men mean more empowered women, right? Not necessarily. The "romantic vulnerability" that has long been a staple of female comedy "doesn't disappear with the economic power," Rosin says. She points to Deschanel's character in New Girl as proof. "I mean she's incredibly vulnerable in this show and neurotic. So how much has changed?"
Video: Promo for New Girl