Girl Power This Pilot Season
I was terrified by other girls growing up. They wore cool clothes and were mean and bonded over New Kids on the Block and Sketchers and Seventeen Magazine. (New Kids on the Block?? I didn’t even know where to find Sketchers and Seventeen scared the shit out of me.) I played Nintendo and read sci-fi novels and constructed lame websites on Geocities with amateur HTML.
The blessing about working in the entertainment industry is that I’m finally surrounded by chicks who are way weirder than I am and doing all sorts of awesome things about it. This pilot season is no exception.
Thanks to fearless writers like Diablo Cody, who made it cool and provenly profitable for girls to be totally wack and smart and visceral, the industry’s expectations of female characters in TV land are changing. Fast. (Sidenote: you’ve got to check out Diablo’s Red Band Trailer web series. I love it.) Not only are there more and more female writers out there, but their material is nothing short of real female and risky.
Take Whitney Cummings, for example – girl has rocked the house with her stand up for several years and is one of the only chicks I know who tells vagina jokes better than dudes. Her pilots (**note the “s,” as Cummings has sold not one, but two network pilots this year) aren’t just alarmingly funny, but they center around female characters who, quite frankly, just don’t give a damn (in one scene, Whitney shaves her face. AWESOME.)
Don’t even get me started on Lena Dunham, who is her own category of amazingness and will own half of Hollywood by the time she’s 30 (you’ll soon be able to catch her new HBO series, Girls, as it was given a series pickup order last month.) Lena’s writing/directing/acting style is uniquely voyeuristic, leaving the audience with a sense of privileged access to her incredibly self-aware, refreshingly odd, usually awkward, yet still sexy, characters.
There are a handful of other scripts such as Cooper and Stone by Laurie Arent, The Untitled Chelsea Handler pilot by Dottie Zicklin and Julie Larson, Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 by Nahnatchka Khan – that all deserve a trophy for breaking the mold with unique lead female archetypes. And, to be totally fair, I’ve read some stellar female-centric pilots penned by men as well – Wild Card by Stephen Godchaux for USA, Hail Mary by Jeff Wadlow for CBS, Playboy by Chad Hodge for NBC, and Pan Am by Jack Orman for ABC (interestingly, all dramas).
So the point of this post? I’ve probably only read about 60% of the scripts out there, but 2011 is already shaping up to be the Year of Female. I don’t remember this many cool female characters present in last year’s pilot season; certainly not the year before.
So I guess we’ll just see what happens at the up-fronts this year, but if even just a few of these pilots get picked up, we’re going to be seeing a whole new type of alpha-female on the small screen. And I like her. A lot.