Monday, September 28, 2015

TV: Women's declining fortunes

It's not a good time for women on TV.

Maybe it'll get better?

But right now, it's not a good time.


This month has demonstrated, for instance, that African-American women cannot be funny.

Or, at least,  not in the eyes of the Emmys anyway.

Only days ago, Anglo White actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her fourth Best Actress in a Comedy Emmy for VEEP which is in its fourth season.

So one actress has given the best comedic performance four years in a row?


Tracee Ellis Ross, star of BLACKISH, can't even get nominated.

But Julia can win four Emmys for playing the same character in the same series four years in a row?

This isn't a competition, it's a Ku Klux Klan convention.

And let's stop pretending that Viola Davis' win means a damn thing.

Viola stars in a TV show that White people love.  She plays a respectable part.

She didn't deserve the award but it fits in with "pedigree" and "breeding."

Taraji P. Henson didn't have that in the role of Cookie on EMPIRE.

It's the same crap that lets the highly untalented Michael Learned grab numerous Emmys as well as the one-note (and homophobic) Tyne Daly to grab multiple awards.

Joan Collins and Debbie Allen blew both Daly and Learned out of the water but they never got the award because their acting took place on television series that could not be described as "pastel," "genteel" or dull.

A brava performance that would be applauded by the Academy Awards tends to frighten the judges -- yes, they have panels for the crap-ass Emmys because they don't trust either democracy or the industry -- who rule who gets an award and who doesn't.

So Viola Davis' powerful attorney and college professor was always going to win over recently released convict Cookie.

Henson's Cookie is a little too raw, a little too real, her emotions up front and visible.

Visibility and exposure describe Jaimie Alexander's Jane Doe on NBC's BLINDSPOT.

The nude scenes are 'necessary,' you understand, because she's been tattooed by someone with various clues.

The important clue on the series premiere was tatooed behind her ear which calls into question her repeated full body nudity throughout the pilot.

As does Sullivan Stapleton who co-stars as jagged teethed FBI agent Kurt Weller.and managed to be fully clothed throughout -- even late at night at his own residence.  Stapleton is, after all, the actor credited with saving the film 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE -- not via his acting but due to his various states of undress throughout the film.

Sullivan's so wrapped in clothes, you'd never even know he had chest hair were it not for the fact that it creeps up to his throat.

Creeping is what ABC's doing with Thursday night's ratings.

As they should be.

How many times last season did we warn that, following the mid-winter finales, SCANDAL and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER were suffering serious viewer erosion?

Did they listen?

No, they gave Shonda Rhimes a greenlight for another show.

Thursday proved us right.

In the press release ABC sent out, they pretended Shonda's three Thursday night show (which also includes the infirm GREY'S ANATOMY) were hits.

And, if you ignore the football broadcast on CBS, we guess you can call the three ABC shows 'winners.'  ("ABC Is the Dominant Non-Sports Net on Season Premier Thursday" insisted the network's press release.)

If you ignore the broadcast that won the most viewers, you probably can declare yourself the hit of the night.

If you ignore that . . . and a few other key details.

The season openers of Shonda Rhimes' melodramas are usually the best ratings for the season as viewers deprived of the potboilers all summer long rush in to feast.

But, strange thing, GREY'S ANATOMY was a little down and SCANDAL and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER were significantly down from their debuts last fall.

Strange -- only if you missed what we repeatedly documented last spring -- Shonda was running off her audience.

Rhimes needs to get her act together and probably letting her have a fourth hour of prime time looks like an even worse idea now as ABC wakes up to what they should have seen months ago: The house that Shonda built has a weak foundation.

Which is especially bad when you grasp that, outside of ABC's QUANTICO and Fox's SCREAM QUEENS, all the shows that haved debuted so far are male led.

Instead, the women are 'helpmates' and 'sidekicks' -- even on MINORITY REPORT where Meagan Good's Detective Lara Vega may carry the gun and have the police training but is secondary to pre-cog Dash (Stark Sands).

In fact, things are so bad this season for women on prime time that Marge's summation of her marriage Sunday night on THE SIMPSONS pretty much  also covered the status of women on TV,  "I know this marriage isn't perfect or even great.  But now I treasure the moments where it's just so-so. I'd kill for okay."

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