Inspired by the misrepresentation of women and girls in the media, the new PBS series Women and Girls Lead was announced just as the DGA declared that “white males direct 77% of all TV shows.” The series looks promising, with documentaries on Little Rock supporter Daisy Bates, a chronicle of 300 lb American Champion Weightlifter, Charyl Haworth, and another of girl wrestler Tara Neal whose story met controversy when she played on her all-male wrestling team. Gender is diverse within womanhood and hopefully this series show its diversity in a space that is consistently lacking it. I’m interested to see how Women and Girls Lead navigates First world/Third world power dynamics that come up during the shows, as many of them cover stories of women in Third World countries, but it’s particularly exciting that various stories document women in the U.S., as this is, indeed, a country full of diverse women.
There are many others shows out there that demonstrate the diversity of social identity in the U.S. that are only available with a bit of digging but are equally rewarding to watch. Feeling inspired myself, I decided to make of list of some of my favorite shows offering critical perspectives and much needed representation in the media (some comedic) that I think should be seen regularly on television. There are plenty of other sources I’m missing, but this is a short list of the ones I’m currently enjoying that, collectively, are feeding me as a critical viewer:
1. In The Life Media, a privately funded organization airing on public television throughout the U.S. Their mission statement proposes that “visibility in media is vital to achieving equality and social justice for LGBT people…In The Life Media counters injustice and misinformation with dynamic, responsive and compelling use of traditional and new media, including social networks, video sharing, online community organizing and blogs.” There are some really great critiques on the intersection of gender, sex and sexuality through the stories of people they follow.
2. These Current TV Infomania shows aren’t running anymore, but has all of its past episodes online. My favorite skits are Bryan Safi’s That’s Gay and Sarah Haskins’s Target: Women; two smart comedic critical voices about gender stereotyping and homophobia in the media.
3. Awkward Black Girl is an awesome web series created by and starring Issa Rae. It’s funny, endearing and really, really smart.
4. Logo’s The Big Gay Sketch Show is funnier than SNL has been in the past few years and it’s full of interesting and funny queer people.
When engaging with media of any sort there are resources (like these) that can be plucked from various places so that, when put together, they create a collective critical voice that work against stereotypes. As an active guilty-pleasure viewer of bad reality TV, these shows offer a good balance to my weekly viewing of The Real Housewives of New Jersey that remind me that smart, witty, original television full of people of all representations can exist.