As the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences rolls up the red carpet on this year’s Emmys, the new season of must-see TV is just beginning. Women continue to struggle with representation on and off screen, but excitement is in the air(waves) for a fresh crop of women-created and women-centered programming. Here’s Ms. Blog’s roundup of new series with the most feminist potential.
Supergirl (CBS, Oct. 26)
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Supergirl, kick-ass cousin of Kal-El, swooping in to save the day in fictional National City! Starring Melissa Benoist (Glee) as the titular superhuman and her real world self, Kara Danvers, with Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal) and Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy) lifting up the supporting cast, Supergirl‘s sharply drawn women characters may be the otherworldly force necessary to break female superheroes out of the comic books and onto the small screen. Now, if we could only make the leap from calling her “woman” instead of “girl” in a single bound…
The Real O’Neals (ABC, Coming Soon)
Executive produced by gay activist Dan Savage, The Real O’Neals features a devoutly Catholic family who must reconcile their faith and their community after their youngest son comes out. At a time when many Americans struggle to grasp Jesus’ whole “Love your neighbor as you do yourself” thing (I’m looking at YOU, Kim Davis), a sitcom that deals with religion as well as reality may just be the answer to everyone’s prayers. And it stars fierce feminist activist Martha Plimpton! Can I get an amen?
Flesh and Bone (Starz, Nov. 8)
Breaking Bad meets ballet? Yes, please! From the executive producer who made Walter White a household name, writer Moira Walley-Beckett sets the stage for a dancing drama with plenty of attitude. Promising to “rip the Band-Aid off” the soft, pretty pink image of ballet, Walley-Beckett has assembled an all-star cast of badass ballerinas including Black Swan‘s Sarah Hay, American Ballet Theatre’s Irina Dvorovenko and Ballet Arizona’s Raychel Diane Weiner. Flesh and Bone may once and for all raise the barre of respect for the woman-dominated athletic art form.
Hot and Bothered (NBC, Coming Soon)
Produced by outspoken feminist Eva Longoria and written by Cougar Town‘s Chrissy Pietrosh and Jessica Goldstein, this show-within-a-show goes behind the scenes of a fictional telenovela to reveal the comedy behind the drama. Starring Longoria as soap opera superstar Ana Sofia, Hot and Bothered also boasts an all-Latino cast of larger-than-life characters, offering some much-needed color to an otherwise drab (read: white) fall slate at NBC. Fun, funny and diverse? To be continued…
Angel From Hell (CBS, Nov. 5)
From the cult following of Broad City to the critical praise of Grace and Frankie, we just can’t get enough of the hilarious hijinks of women BFFs. As a less-than-virtuous guardian angel sent to Earth to watch over perfectionist Allison (Maggie Lawson), Glee‘s Jane Lynch gives her role as angel Amy the full-on Lynch treatment, endowing her with the signature brand of comedic tough love that made Lynch famous. As Allison and Amy will likely discover, not all friendships are perfect, but with these two divinely funny women at the center, this series might just be sent from heaven.
Indian Summers (PBS, Sept. 27)
With a wealth of rich commentary on class, culture and colonialism, Indian Summers juxtaposes the lives of well-to-do British socialites with those of the Indian people serving under their rule in 1930s British Raj India. Equal parts period drama and political thriller and featuring a large cast of Indian and Pakistani actors, expectations are high for this new PBS offering which we hope will spark fresh conversations about race, oppression and revolution.
Jessica Jones (Netflix, Nov. 20)
Krysten Ritter (Don’t Trust the B—in Apt. 23) stars as a former supershero transitioning into a new role as a private investigator. With showrunner Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter, Twilight) at the helm, Jessica Jones promises to be another dark, edgy shot of Ritt…er… grit, the second in a string of New York City stories tying together Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist for Marvel’s upcoming ensemble series, The Defenders. The mystery surrounding this new series has fans of the Alias source material speculating as to how dark Marvel will take it, but if the casting of Ritter provides any clue, we may have a fabulously flawed feminist antihero on our hands.