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2007 tv pilots May 16, 2007

Posted by sindhub in "the gaze", motherhood, opting out, race, The TV Set, tv, women in television.
2 comments

I was looking at TV pilots for the 2007-2008 television season, and I was struck by how many pilots related to ‘girl power,’ especially the idea of a supermom who balances work and family.  It’ll also be interesting to see how many of them actually get picked up by the networks, and if the number that are picked up is proportional to how many were created.  Here are some examples (there are probably a lot more, but I thought these were particularly relevant):

ABC

  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith: based on the blockbuster movie
  • Cashmere Mafia: “Sex and the City creator Darren Star is back to New York in this new dramedy pilot, about four female executives, friends since college, who support one another through the trials and tribulations of work, family, and everything else life in New York City throws at them.”
  • Women’s Murder Club: “A series of mystery books by James Patterson was the inspiration for this new series, which tells the story of four women who work together to solve some of the most confounding murder cases out there. Their jobs as a homicide detective, a medical examiner, a newspaper reporter, and an assistant district attorney give them a formidable range of skills, and their strong friendship provides basis for the teamwork that’s necessary to crack each case.” (more…)

Grey’s Spinoff May 9, 2007

Posted by erinsull in bitch, careerwomen, Female Power, Grey's Anatomy, Kate Walsh, women in television.
1 comment so far

I just came across this interesting New York Times article about the new Grey’s Anatomy spin-off centered around Kate Walsh’s character Dr. Addison Montgomery (formally Sheppard as fans of the show are well aware). Being a fan of Grey’s I watched the 2-hour episode, which set up Addison’s new show. At 11 o’clock as the closing credits rolled I had this sense on dissatisfaction and annoyance but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. While Grey’s admittedly has its own issues (the title character Meredith is an extremely polarizing figure) I’d never had this kind of reaction to it. This article summed up a lot of the problems I had with the episode. Addison first appeared on the show at the end of season one as the ex wife of Meredith’s boyfriend, Dr. Sheppard (more commonly known as McDreamy but I can’t deal with that name). She was intimidating, a “coolly amused villainess” who was in town to challenge the show’s frail and often flaky heroine. Addison was sophisticated, beautiful, confident, and on top of all that a world-renowned surgeon. She could have easily been the character everyone loved to hate but the writers made her surprisingly likeable. She was a real woman, who while sometimes exuding perfection, made mistakes and had emotions. At first I commended this change, I liked that she wasn’t a one-note villain but someone who viewers could identify with.

However with recent plot twists Addison has become a shadow of her once intimidating self. As the articles’ author notes “her character evolved into a more likable colleague, but for some reason, that change required her to become dizzier, chattier and very much like the ever confused and self-doubting Meredith — and, of course, Ally McBeal”. She was prompted to leave Seattle Grace after she was scorned by two men (one an intern, another whom she had rejected many times I the past). What does it mean that to make the character more relatable (and thus able to carry her own show) the writers felt they had to make her flakier and far less self assure? The head writer and brains behind Grey’s Anatomy is a woman, did she feel this new Addison was necessary to appeal to a wider audience? I can’t really take her transformation as natural character development for one of the world’s foremost neonatologist. Was the original Addison just too powerful and confident, too much of a “bitch” to make people tune in and care week after week?

The article makes an interesting point about the other women on the show who are supposedly a more empowering portrayal of professionally successful women. It says “on “Grey’s Anatomy” at least two female characters, Christina (Sandra Oh) and Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) have confidence, big egos and an ability to keep their sorrows to themselves most of the time”. They lie in contrast to the women on the spin-off who are “fragile and pitiable” and “prone to public displays of disaffection”. While I agree that it was tough to take watching these professional woman constantly overcome with emotion (mostly at the whim of men) I think it is interesting that the author puts such a high regard on women keeping their emotions to themselves. Is that key for women to exude a sense of power and control? Anyway the article is a really interesting look at the sometimes-disheartening portrayal of women even on “the most bourgeois women’s television shows.”