Thursday, March 20, 2014

AR-EN: Drama and the absence of women & people of color

[A Notebook on popular culture, Alyssa Rosenberg & Emily Nussbaum]   

Maureen Ryan reveals many disappointing numbers in her article "Who Creates Drama at HBO? Very Few Women or People of Color." She notes:
With one exception over the course of four decades, HBO has not aired an original one-hour drama series created by a woman.

With one exception over the course of four decades, HBO has not aired an original one-hour drama or dramatic miniseries creatively led at its debut by a person of color.
She later notes that:
Audiences can and should take individual writers to task for problems they perceive in a given show. But as long as this debate is limited to individual dramas, and doesn't consider the entities that commission and distribute them, the conversation is likely to go around in circles indefinitely.
Ryan points out that half-hour shows that do have a little more diversity are not unimportant. However, the hour-long dramas constitute "the prime real estate of TV culture," and those shows "not only capture the public imagination, but often cement or increase the power of the people who make them."

What particular aspect of Ryan's article drew your attention or got you thinking the most? Why or how so?


Brenda W said...

The aspect of Ryan's article that got me thinking the most was the portrayal of women in these dramas and miniseries. I never really took the time to notice the typical role women play in these shows; they're either arguing with men or sleeping with men. It is so demeaning, as I look back on some of my favorite shows I realize the women are either strippers, housewives, nannies, demented, paranoid, or some other negative and condescending stereotype associated with being a female. As an educated and driven female, it hurts to see what media is portraying us as. I recall talking to my little cousin last year and she told me she wants to be a housewife when she grows up. At the time, I didn't think too much of it and told her she should aspire for something bigger and better. But now, as I look back on it, I realize how these types of shows and media can impact young girls. It is telling them what their role in society should be and is sanctioning them for aiming towards higher goals like engineers, doctors, and lawyers.

Ashley Bass said...

When Ryan said "Just under 8 percent of HBO's original dramas and miniseries came from women, and 2.6 percent came from people of color. Less than 5 percent of its one-hour dramas -- one of the most high-profile entertainment products in the world -- were created by women. That's over the course of nearly 40 years." it interested me the most. I watch HBO and I never really paid attention to how little diversity they have and when I think about all the shows the majority or almost all of them are based around white males. People of color and women really do not appear much unless it's depicting them badly. Now when I watch HBO I'm definitely going to start paying more attention to who the main people of the show are and how they depict particular people.

Ke'Asha jones said...

What drew my attention was the fact that I had honestly never paid to much attention to the fact that a lot of the hour long dramas on HBO are not written by women or people of color, which startled me because as both a woman and a person of color I watch many HBO dramas and never really paid any attention to the fact that usually the leading Lady always seems to be centered around Drama and a man or men. I also never really paid much attention to the fact there are not many non 30 minute series on HBO dealing with real world women or people of minority groups.

Georgy N said...

Something that really caught my attention in the article was how the women in True Detectives are portayed. The women's roles are never really about them. It's women in a man's world and everything is about how they relate to the men. Women are not seen for who they are. They are wives of men and strippers, mistresses or hook ups. That is something I've noticed that is changing in entertainment but it's changing very slowly.

The facts that so few women have able to produce dramas may be to blame. It's is sad that less than 8 percent of dramas and miniseries on HBO are created by women. The video ralked about how people bring the writers and producers they know amd have worked with into the industry. They very rarely stray from what they know. Maybe it's time for women to start bringing other women into thw entertainment industry.

Jessica Oranika said...

The part that got me thinking the most is when Ryan analyzes the typical portrayal of women in the typical 1 hour drama. I somewhat agree that a good woman's role can be written by a man but who better to express the thought processes, feelings, insecurities and actions of a female character than a female? Women and minorities have been making amazing strides in society everywhere from professional careers to politics. Its only right that the lack of diversity in these dramas are addressed.

Candace P said...

The aspect of Maureen Ryan's article which intrigued me the most was the fact that women are often portrayed as "’crazy’ mistresses, nameless strippers, randy hookups, disgruntled daughters, dismayed wives” within the HBO series “True Detective”. This portrayal of women does not necessarily surprise me however because it is common for television series to represent women in a negative manner. The women within television series are often just an object within a man’s world. In order for women to be shown to a more positive light, it is necessary for more television channels to air more shows created by women.

Tia S. said...

I guess what got me thinking the most is that I'd never considered how non-diverse a lot of these hit shows were (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, etc.). Part of that is because I don't watch them, but when Ryan brought up the success of "Orange is the New Black", I started to wonder why aren't there more hit shows like that? I love "Orange". The cast is very diverse and it shows many different, complex portrayals of women and people of color. Also, it was created by a woman.

I think "Orange" is a great example of the kind of amazing show you can get when you let other people besides white men create the show. As Ryan said, it "helped put Netflix on the map". People obviously like seeing this kind of diversity and characters who aren't just stereotypes. So, hopefully HBO and other TV giants will learn from this and put more women and people of color in creative positions.

Ajeenah Johnson-Brown said...

One aspect of Ryan's article that stood out most to me was the portrayal of women in these dramas. I am always telling people, "It's just a TV show". As if the characters we see on the screen have no influence in our lives. However, after reading Ryan's article, I realized they are not just characters. For many young girls and women, that lead actress in their favorite show is a role model. Not only do they admire their personalities, lifestyles, and careers; but also their style of dress. What we watch on TV does impact our daily lives, and it is important for companies like HBO to air shows that portray women in a positive light.

Jessica L.W. said...

I never paid much attention to the fact that HBO has not aired hour long dramas written by women or people of color. That idea draws my attention the most to know that women or people of color have not had the opportunity to have hour long dramas aired on HBO. While it is not shocking to me I find it to be ridiculous and extremely offensive. There are numerous black influential men and women who have produced and directed movies such as Spike Lee and Denzel Washington.

Unknown said...

The part of ryan's article the lack of women and people of color in leading roles of production on HBO. Today's society is so diverse, It would seem that it only be natural that diversity should be shown on television series and miniseries. I think the lack of diversity on
HBO shows that we are not as advanced and progressive as we think.