Last Monday, I found out that CBS had passed on the new Nancy Drew TV series. Not because the pilot tested badly (it tested really well) but because it was “Too Female”.
My only reaction was: Ugh!
What do they mean by Too Female?
It could mean a lot of things but mostly it means that they believe that it won’t appeal to their core demographic. Which is apparently mostly men between the age of 18 and 49. Which is the demographic that most networks seem to be targeting.
That’s why you get a kickass character like Detective Kate Beckett (Castle) and Doctor Constance Brennan (Bones), but the studio insists that they work with a male lead. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the male is just boring like Body of Proof where the male cops were about as interesting as the corpses. (Mostly less.)
Rarely do you get a mystery show where you have a female lead that isn’t saddled with a male partner to appeal to the “male demographic”. Other than Veronica Mars and Murder She Wrote, the only one I can think of is Rizzoli & Isles.
Does Gender Matter?
From a story perspective; no. You can tell a fantastic story with a male or a female lead.
From a demographics perspective; I don’t know. I’m not your typical man and I can’t speak for all men. I enjoy female leads, and I think a smart intelligent character is awesome. Female led shows have done well in the past; Veronica Mars, Buffy, Xena, Murder She Wrote, Star Trek Voyager, etc.
I have gotten more than one funny look when I’ve mentioned my love for Gilmore Girls or Disney Princess movies, so the stereotype is there.
The one place that it absolutely matters is in representation. I can turn on the tv and press any combination of buttons and there’s a huge chance that I’ll end up on a show with a main character that looks like me. (White male, 18-49) There are good guys that look like me, bad guys, smart, dumb, etc. etc. etc.
We don’t have the same for women. It’s improving but it’s not there yet.
And that’s not mentioning other gender identities, sexual preferences, cultures, ethnicities, etc.
What Can We Do?
Find and Enjoy the #TooFemale shows out there with well written female leads. Share your love on social media, buy the merchandise, go see the movies.
My experience is limited, but the following TV shows have female leads that kick ass (figuratively and literally) and are still on the air. Check them out, and if you love them let the world know:
- The Librarians
- Rizzoli & Isles
- Supergirl (Now moving to CW because CBS thought it was too female?)
- Wynonna Earp
- Dark Matter
- Orphan Black
- Call the Midwife
There are LOTS more but these are the ones I’ve watched and enjoyed.
While you’re feeling active, sign the Agent Carter to Netflix petition.
Go and shamelessly enjoy all the “Too Female” shows. They’re usually better written anyway.