The Expanding Role of Women in Television

Kathleen Morris

Staff Writer

Television hasn’t always been kind to women. Their roles have most often consisted of being two-dimensional space fillers and compliments to the men they shared airtime with. But it seems that things are taking a turn for the better. One indication of this is the amount of shows on-air at this time that have females playing the lead role. Shows like CBS’s Supergirl, ABC’s Scandal and HBO’s Veep. Prime-time television isn’t the only medium showcasing female lead characters who have genuine relatability. Netflix has its own share of original shows that offer that, such as Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and House of Cards. These shows, along with others like them, are changing television, marking a new era of entertainment.

Shows like these are making a point of depicting women as they really are: people who have real complexity, depth and emotions. This is a stark contrast to shows of the past where, on male-dominated screens, the few females featured had little or no character development. This is such an important thing. Television is a staple of American culture, shaping our views and opinions. And whether you choose to watch shows on an actual television, on your laptop, or on your phone, they’re affecting you. Having exposure to these progressive shows can have a good effect on viewers in the long run, helping to bridge the gap between men and women.

That’s not the only benefit of these shows. Women now have people on television who they can better relate to. There’s something inspiring about watching a show and finding someone who you can see yourself in. Watching them overcome difficulties and solve problems is an experience in itself, and that is part of the allure of television in general. So having strong female leads in television shows is giving women the opportunity experience that.

Of course, there’s still a long road ahead of women in the entertainment industry. According to Time magazine, a report published by the Writers Guild of America showed that in 2012 only 27% of all TV writers were women, and they were paid 92 cents for every dollar earned by male writers. There’s clearly not a lot of women representation behind the scenes, and the women who do work behind the scenes aren’t receiving as much recognition as their male counterparts. A report done by The Women’s Media Center found that in the last ten years 78% of the Emmy nominees for the categories honoring writing, directing, producing and editing were men. This year, according to the website Deadline, which featured an article highlighting the findings of the study, female nominees were still outnumbered three to one by men.

Even with those low numbers it’s still safe to say that this is a good time for women in television. And with any luck, things will continue to get even better.

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