Do you agree that there’s a “new breed” of woman on TV these days? LA Times TV critic Mary McNamara argued the point in a lengthy piece full of insights:
“The female leads of House of Cards, Parade’s End, Girls, The Good Wife, Enlightened, Homeland, Parks and Recreation and Game of Thrones are very different sorts of women who share one important trait: We have never seen their like before…
“They work and they parent; love but don’t always marry; betray or suffer betrayal but don’t necessarily divorce; have flaws, including mental illness, but are not destroyed by them. Most important, they falter, they despair, and then they move on.”
There’s also this prominently placed disclaimer: “Although lacking in demographic diversity — they are all white and mostly middle class.”
Sigh. The ‘new breed’ represents an evolution for TV’s women. It even features several women without children. Yet, it isn’t quite true to who we really are.
A previous post noted the contributions of TV’s women without children, but not in the context of character strength. It’s interesting that the Times‘ thoughtful piece failed to mention ABC’s Scandal, where the character of Olivia Pope, as played by African American actress Kerry Washington*, personifies the newly dubbed new breed. The Times analysis does credit the success of CBS’ The Good Wife for the arrival of several “female-centric” shows (New Girl) – good and bad (The Playboy Club).
Through a NotMom lens, Olivia Pope strikes me as a woman who wants children but isn’t completely convinced of it, wedded to her a 24/7 on-call career. Love with a married man sets parameters that that benefit the status quo. NotMoms on Olivia’s staff, Abby and Quinn, are badly damaged, still figuring themselves out.
On The Good Wife, Archie Panjabi* plays dangerous and also damaged Not Mom Kalinda Sharma. There are hints of a softer side to the character, but not necessarily a maternal one. Kalinda’s casual bi-sexuality has revealed an aggressively sexual streak, not unlike Sex & the City’s Samantha Jones (played by Kim Cattrall*) who exuded a childfree mindset without stereotypical bitchiness or evangelism.
The young women of Girls and Game of Thrones may have some power, but at their age, and in their current role timelines, children are still a possibility. (That includes GOT’s Queen Daenerys, already a mother of dragons.)
There are women without children among TV’s new breed. Is there one you’ve found to be appealing?, Ifwe have to look a bit harder for them, maybe it’s because there are fewer stand-out, over-the-top NotMom archetypes – maudlin By Chance; strident By Choice. Progress on one front, even as ethnic and geographic diversity lags.
(Image Credit: ABC)