Entertainment

Positive Representation of Female Characters On Television

There are television characters and then there are female television characters.  Shows all have characters, obviously, but within each show, particularly any procedural shows, especially if they air on CBS, the worst offender, the characters are generally made up of a group of men, with a token female character, maybe even two if the boss is female.  The entire rest of the cast will be men, though, and the “main” character will usually be male.

This demonstrates a cultural problem that is still endemic in society, where women still face many challenges, something that is reflected on television, a place where the female characters are not multi-dimensional “people” like the male characters are, but rather, they are Female characters.  Male characters are not thought of a male characters, but rather, simply characters, yet women need to have a reason to exists within the cast, even if that reason is simply to fill a quota so the cast isn’t entirely male.

There are many shows that have women that are characters, rather than “female” characters, but that is something that is a gradually improving situation, rather than the norm, and something that is virtually non-existent among procedural dramas.

There is a test developed by Alison Bechdel, called the Bechdel Movie Test.  It has three requirements of a film or television show to pass the test, meaning it has a realistic and positive portrayal of female characters.  Those requirements are that the project has at least two named women in it, that the two women talk to each other and that they talk about something besides a man.

The shows that present the best examples of women as characters in their own right, rather than Female characters include the current shows Once Upon a Time, The Walking Dead, Nashville, Covert Affairs, Nikita and Beauty & the Beast.  Older shows include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars and Fringe.  It may be worth noting that with the exception of Covert Affairs, all the shows I’ve just mentioned feature the supernatural, science fiction or a larger conspiracy.