The TV Networks Are Trying to Understand Women

…But it isn’t any kind of gender bias that keeps them from getting it, it’s just that, well, let’s face it…if there’s one thing the networks have proved over the last 50 years it’s that they pretty much don’t get anything.

Network TV Attempts To Figure Out Modern Feminism, Might Just Be on to Something – by 

Television is a trend-driven business:Bridesmaids does well and suddenly, everyone’s looking for funny women, Modern Family is a hit, and suddenly, multicamera comedies are in and single-camera comedies are out. Most of the time, these trends are big, broad attempts to chase increasingly rare success stories. But this year, network TV, in its own halting way, is going after something a little more unusual: network TV is trying to figure out modern feminism.

The first attempt was Next Caller, a sitcom starring Dane Cook that NBC put into production to start airing in the midseason. On the surface, the show’s premise is disastrous: Cook was set to play Cam, the host of a shock-jock satellite radio show called Booty Calls, who’s paired with a feminist co-host, Stella (Collette Wolfe), promoted from a local NPR station to the big time because, as his boss (Jeffrey Tambor) puts it “Your show sucks and your ratings are garbage.” But apparently NBC lost faith in the concept, which many of my fellow critics hated in the first place—the network canceled Next Caller before it even assigned the sitcom a time slot for January.

I’m actually sorry that Next Caller isn’t going to air, in part because it posited an interesting relationship between its vision of modern sexists and modern feminists. In the pilot at least, Stella was was overly sincere and statistics-obsessed, a parody as much of NPR as of feminism itself. “It’s so boring!” one caller sobbed on the air as she recited statistics about relationships. Cam treats her as naive when she insists that men can rise above ogling women, and tells her that she’s boring when she bombards a virgin with statistics and sex-ed talk after he calls in and anxiously asks her what sex is like. “What’s wrong with you?” Cam asks her. “Why can’t you just tell the kid something about sex? Something not horrible.”

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We so want to add an abortion joke here. You know, about NEXT CALLER. But it just seemed so darned tasteless given the circumstances…