On Television

‘Parks and Recreation’: Leslie Knope’s Problem with Women

Parks and Rec

For Leslie, feminism means, rather simplistically, that she admires women who are in power, believing that gender should be no barrier for achievement. Unfortunately, despite Leslie’s determination to highlight her dedication to furthering the feminist cause, her understanding is not only crude and rather rudimentary, but can, frequently, be damaging. Her identification as a feminist is, much like Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon on ’30 Rock,’ hugely lacking in intersectionality. This is even more frustrating considering that three of the four female cast members are women of color.

The Ironically Iconic ‘Wonder Woman’

wonder-woman-lynda-carter

With D.C. superheroine Wonder Woman recently named UN honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls and her forthcoming feature film building hype, her profile could hardly be higher as a feminist symbol. Yet Wonder Woman, who the U.N. hopes will focus attention on women’s “participation and leadership,” is an image entirely created by men. She represents, ironically enough, male domination of the struggle against male domination. … Far from a step forward, ‘Wonder Woman’ is worse than more simply offensive chauvinism, because it insidiously exploits the female audience’s desire to identify with Wonder Woman’s empowerment.

The Villainization of Claire Underwood on ‘House of Cards’

House of Cards

Much of what makes besmirching Claire Underwood villainous is also what I can’t help but find admirable about her  —  and at first, this made me question myself. … But then I thought, perhaps, it could be possible that we’ve vilified every aspect of Claire Underwood because our culture is inherently threatened by her. She’s the personification of what a patriarchal society is most fearful of… Claire Underwood has to be a villain because we aren’t ready for a world where she’s a heroine.

The Rise of Women with Mental Illness in TV Series

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, UnReal, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

With the sleeper success of ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,’ the increased focus on Kimmy Schmidt’s PTSD this season on ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,’ and Rachel Goldberg’s mental illness on ‘UnREAL,’ there seems to be a rise in depictions of mental health — in particular, women’s mental health — on television.

A Feminist Guide to Horror: Torture Porn TV

Penny Dreadful

Small screen torture porn, at least in the cases of ‘American Horror Story’ and ‘Penny Dreadful,’ seems to be serving rather to take our fear of sex and women out of the dark and into the light, giving us an opportunity to vicariously take women apart and show them as disgusting as a substantial portion of our society fears we might be.

Interview with First-Time Web Series Creators Ilana Rubin and Lana Schwartz on Comedy Thriller ‘Secrets & Liars’

Secrets & Liars

[Web series are] “the best opportunity we have to express our voices, because we can use any type of format we want. I think it’d be great to see more shows that represent different viewpoints and experiences than are typically seen in comedy…” “The internet has been great for creators to get their voices heard! … I think having a diverse writer’s room isn’t just essential but should be mandatory.”

‘Best of Enemies’: When Politics Was All About Men

Best of Enemies

Out queer writer Gore Vidal was prescient in discussing the danger of self-labeled “conservative” Republicans (“reactionary” has always been a better term for them). In 1968, as part of network news coverage of the political conventions Vidal debated William F. Buckley, the loathsome “conservative” stalwart… In their debates, Vidal describes Buckley’s rhetoric as “always to the right and almost always in the wrong.” The debates are the focus of Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s documentary ‘Best of Enemies.’

Bi Erasure in Film and TV: The Difficulty of Representing Bisexual People On-Screen

How to Get Away with Murder

As frustrating as our erasure and stereotyping is, however, I’d like to go beyond the question of “good” and “bad” representations of bisexual characters to ask this: exactly what it is about bisexuality which makes it so hard to represent on-screen? And why, when bisexuality is visible, is it so likely to collapse back into dominant stereotypes of bisexuality as either promiscuous or merely a phase?

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and Bisexual Representation

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

But the clearest example of the Buffyverse’s discomfort with bisexuality, in my opinion, appears in the character of Faith Lehane. … Despite what was at the time a groundbreaking portrayal of a loving lesbian relationship, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ still had many issues in its messaging surrounding queer sexualities, in particular bisexuality. In my opinion, a few material changes could have gone a long way in removing at least some of this negative messaging.

‘Supernatural’s Scariest Monster: Bisexual Erasure

Supernatural

I won’t spend too much time trying to convince you that one of the main characters, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), is bisexual — or would be, if the writers and producers would allow him to be — and that the show is queerbaiting. … What I am arguing is that queer people do not need a character’s sexuality to be canonized in order to identify with that character and recognize literary tropes that are generally used to align characters with queerness.

‘Person of Interest’s Sameen Shaw Stamps Her Place in TV’s Bisexual Landscape

Person of Interest

She is a victor, a fighter, and a survivor. Shaw is a queer, neurodivergent, woman of color, and she was allowed to be all of these things without ever being judged or punished for them. Though ‘Person of Interest’ never used the label, and Shaw herself is not likely to ever use such labels, she is unmistakably a bisexual character, and her status as such is treated by the narrative with matter-of-factness, but also with respect and compassion.

‘Grace and Frankie’ and the Binary of Bisexual Erasure and Representation

Grace and Frankie

What makes it even more exciting to me, as a queer woman, is that not only are we being treated to these stories of our elders but that queerness is acknowledged and exists amongst older people in this television series. … My one bone to pick with ‘Grace and Frankie,’ for all of my true and deep love, is the decision to make Sol and Robert come out as being gay after 40 years of consummated, loving marriage to their wives. Surely, there was a possibility they were in fact bisexual?