TV Diversity – Yay or Nay? Part 3

Here it is: Part Three of Suzanne Chan’s four-part analysis of diversity, or the lack of it, on our television screens. Dig in:


 

Image found at http://www.freepress.net
Image found at http://www.freepress.net

THE GOOD WIFE
by Suzanne Chan

This is part three of a four-part series about television shows that I recently fell in love with for their premise, overall writing, and visual style. Two are to be celebrated for their diversity. Two could do better.

Part 1 was about the diverse world portrayed in The 100. Part 2 was about The Flash, a show that displays great racial diversity, yet terribly sexist attitudes to female characters.

This week, I look at The Good Wife, a brainy, engaging show about a feminist, atheist heroine that is unexpectedly wrong-footed on issues of race.

When CBS first announced a new series called The Good Wife, the premise interested me. It sounded like a “what-if” story inspired by women like Hillary Clinton and Silda Wall Spitzer: independent-minded, liberal women who helped their husbands obtain high stations in public office, only to have their lives upended when the men were exposed as philanderers. It sounded like just the show to scratch my West Wing itch.

Due to scheduling conflicts, I missed the first five seasons of The Good Wife. During this time my nerdy, comics-loving friends heaped praise on the show.

When I finally caught up on the show last fall, as its sixth season was airing, I fell for it head over heels. Far from the leisurely few months I thought it would take, I binged the series in a few weeks.

Super(anti)heroine

I could relate to the feminist, atheist protagonist, Alicia Florick, and I loved the show’s ability to dramatize 21st century crimes: cases that relied on fairly thorough explorations of concepts such as intellectual property, bioethics, and conflicting rights.

Read it all at Sequential Tart

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

TV Diversity – Yay or Nay? Part 2

Here it is: Part Two of Suzanne Chan’s four-part analysis of diversity, or the lack of it, on our television screens. Dig in:

Image found at http://www.freepress.net
Image found at http://www.freepress.net

THE FLASH
by Suzanne Chan

There’s a saying: “Perfection is the enemy of the good.”

If we had to wait for perfect policies, works of art, or television shows, we would have a total of close to zero.

I really like television as a form of storytelling, though it comes with many caveats. Some are imposed by commercial and technical restraints. Others are the results of creative decisions. Sometimes a show can excel in almost every aspect, but fall short on some significant ones. Too often, these include decisions about the depiction of women, people of colour, sexual minorities, and other groups that are underrepresented in the mass media.

Last month, I started a four-part series about television shows that I recently fell in love with for their premise, overall writing, and visual style. Two are to be celebrated for their diversity. Two could do better.

I wrote about the near-perfection of The 100 in the first column. This week, I look at The Flash, a show that I love primarily because it’s fun and also for its ethnic diversity. However, the way it represents women is highly problematic.

Read it all at Sequential Tart

Read Part 1

TV Diversity – Yay or Nay? Part 1

Beginning today, TVWriter™ brings you Suzanne Chan’s four-part analysis of diversity, or the lack of it, on our television screens. We know it’s early Monday morning, but if you feel like doing some serious thinking, here’s a good place to start:

Image found at http://www.freepress.net
Image found at http://www.freepress.net

THE 100
by Suzanne Chan

Any given episode of a television show is composed of many different elements: the writing, the casting, the directing, the acting, the production details, the post-production work, to name a few. Consequently, there are many elements to which a viewer can pay attention. Some elements might stand out more than others. Some might work better than others. Television isn’t an exact science, but the best television shows are experiments that work, or mostly so.

Recently, a friend recently starting sharing some nostalgic photos of 1970s shows on Facebook. I’d forgotten how white and blonde they were: The Hardy Boys, The Bionic Woman, the women of The Brady Bunch. It was as if you couldn’t possibly be on television if you weren’t blonde. ABC even cast the blonde Cathy Lee Crosby as Wonder Woman in a TV movie. (A week after this epiphany, I got to the part in Tina Fey’s audiobook, Bossypants, where she made the same observation: “Can you remember a time when pop culture was so white that Jaclyn Smith was the chocolate?”)

This demographic depigmentization (to say nothing of deculturalization) of television characters didn’t actually stop me from loving the heck out of some of these shows — but then again, neither did the ropy writing of The Love Boat.

That remains true now. Mainstream television is still generally deficient in portraying women, and worse in portraying characters of minority ethnicities and sexual orientations. My approach is to note these deficiencies, just as I do deficiencies in writing, acting, directing, etc. If the show makes me wonder what will happen next, I’ll continue watching it. If it doesn’t, I won’t.

In that spirit, I’d like to discuss four shows that I recently fell in love with for their premise, overall writing, and visual style. Two are to be celebrated for their diversity. Two could do better.

Read it all at Sequential Tart