Yes, TV has come a long way since the days of Leave it to Beaver and The Brady Bunch. There are now entire networks devoted to crime and violence, and many of these shows feature strong female characters who have been victimized by murder or abuse.
Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale
For too long, women on TV were either the perfect housewife or the damsel in distress. In more recent years, however, the landscape has changed dramatically. Women are now leading some of the most popular shows on television, and they’re playing roles that are far more complex and interesting than ever before. Now we have shows like Game of Thrones’ prequel House of the Dragon, The Handmaid’s Tale, Law & Order: SVU and How to Get Away with Murder (ended 2020) that feature strong, complex female characters who have survived horrific crimes.
These shows are important not only for entertainment value, but also for helping to break the silence around these issues. For too long, women who have been victimized by murder or abuse have felt ashamed and alone. Now they can see that there are others out there who understand what they’ve been through.
One of the most important aspects of this shift is the way that women are being portrayed. In the past, female characters were often one-dimensional and their stories revolved around their relationships with men. But now, there are more female characters who are defined by their own ambitions and desires. And while there are still plenty of romantic relationships on TV, they’re not always the central focus of the story.
As I see it, there are two items contributing to how murdered and abused women are finally getting their due on television:
1) There are more women working behind the scenes in show business
There are more women climbing the entertainment ladder to tell their stories. In the wake of high-profile cases (such as Harvey Weinstein) of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood, women are speaking out about the discrimination and mistreatment they face in the industry.
Despite the obstacles, women are making progress in breaking into male-dominated fields such as directing, producing and writing. And they’re using their platform to tell stories that have been traditionally overlooked, like those of women of color and LGBTQIA+ people.
However, there’s still a long way to go. Women are still vastly outnumbered by men in most positions of power in the business, and when they do achieve success, they often face even greater scrutiny and hostility from their male colleagues.
If Hollywood is truly going to change, it needs to do better at hiring and promoting women.
Let’s take a look at some of the women in elevated show business positions:
Shonda Rhimes is a highly successful creator, writer, producer and showrunner. She’s responsible for hits like Grey’s Anatomy, Inventing Anna, Bridgerton, Private Practice and How to Get Away with Murder.
Michelle King is a writer and producer who has developed and worked on shows The Good Wife, The Good Fight and Your Honor.
Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show
Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston – actresses turned Executive Producers of Apple TV’s drama The Morning Show.
Michele Abbott, Ilene Chaiken, Kathy Greenberg and Marja-Lewis Ryan created the LGBTQ+ based The L Word: Generation Q.
Jamie Tarses (RIP) – Of course, we must honor Jamie Tarses who was the first woman to run a networking entertainment division and helped develop the shows Friends and Frasier.
We’ll stop here. Feel free to follow us at DirectSubmit / NYCastings to add more women to this list.
Also, Women and Hollywood has some very interesting statistics about Women Behind the Scenes, in case you’re interested in numbers.
2) More actors are willing to portray these victims
Ah. We can dig right into this one.
More actors willing to play victims is most likely due to the increased public awareness of abuse as well as the growing trend of social media users sharing their own personal experiences with abuse and violence.
Actors who have portrayed victims of abuse or murder include Viola Davis, Jennifer Lawrence and Reese Witherspoon. All three have spoken out about their experiences with abuse and violence, and have said that they feel it is important to use their platform to raise awareness about these issues. Evan Rachel Wood, best known for Westworld and True Blood, is another actress to add to the list of people who use their fame to spread the word.
The willingness of actors to play victims on screen is a positive development, as it can help to educate the public about the prevalence of these issues and encourage more people to speak out about their own experiences. More actors are realizing that they can use their platform to shed light on important social issues.
Jennifer Lawrence in Causeway
Despite the obstacles, women are making progress in breaking into male-dominated fields such as directing, producing and writing. They’re using their platform to tell stories that have been traditionally overlooked, like those of women of color and LGBTQIA+ people.
However, there’s still a long way to go. Women are still vastly outnumbered by men in most positions of power in Hollywood. And when they do achieve success, they often face even greater scrutiny and hostility from their male colleagues.
There needs to be more balance in the representation of women on television. But for now, it’s good to see that at least some progress is being made.
P.S. An article to read in your spare time is Variety’s Women’s Impact Report Class of 2022. Check out the powerful women in entertainment and what they’re working on.