On TV Everywhere, Kickass Women Rule

Broadcast Networks: From superhero shows like “Marvel’s Agents of Shield,” “Supergirl” and “DC Legends of Tomorrow,” to action shows like “Quantico,” “Blindspot,” “Timeless,” “Once Upon a Time,” and “The Blacklist,” to procedural crime shows like “Law & Order: SVU,” “Bones,” “Criminal Minds,” “NCIS:LA,” “Chicago PD”, and “Shades of Blue,” kickass women rule the broadcast airwaves.  And let’s not forget the high-powered women in more general dramas like “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Empire,” “Scandal,” and “Madam Secretary.”

Virtually all of these strong women, however, have relationships with men, report to men, or are otherwise dependent on men to some degree.  I was hoping Supergirl was strong enough to be an exception, but they had to eventually give her a love interest as well.  I wonder if this has more to do with the conservativeness of broadcast executives, writers thinking they need to be more traditional for a broadcast network — or simply that with more episodes per season than cable dramas, these lend themselves to more storylines. Maybe there’s a feeling that these dynamics appeal to a broader audience (broadcast networks need higher ratings than cable for a show to survive).



Ad-Supported Cable:  From shows that ended their runs over the past few years like “The Closer,” “Covert Affairs,” “In Plain Sight,” “Damages,” and “Rizzoli & Isles,” to current dramas, like “Major Crimes,” “The Americans,” “Fargo’” “American Horror Story,” “Queen of the South,” “Animal Kingdom,” “Orphan Black,” “Underground, ” Good Behavior,” “Into the Badlands,” and “The Walking Dead,”  ad-supported cable has had more strong women who are not dependent on men than has broadcast TV.

On “The Walking Dead,” the highest-rated show on television, while Rick is still the leader, he, and Daryl are the only two men from the original group to survive this long.  But no one is more kickass than Carol and Michonne, two strong, smart, independent, and complicated female characters.  And most of the final group that is heading for a showdown with the Saviors are women.

Premium Cable:  Premium cable networks have been loaded with powerful, intelligent, independent women who overcome domineering men to at least try to control their own fates.  “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland,” “Outlander,” “Black Sails,” and “Westworld” all fit that mold, as do the recently canceled “True Blood,” “Banshee” and “Penny Dreadful.”  

Never before on television has there been a series with so many strong, independent, well-written, kick-ass women, who are not reliant on men for their success in any way,  than on  "Game of Thrones," the highest-rated series on premium cable. Virtually all of these women have overcome, defeated, pushed aside, or killed domineering men who threatened or abused them.  All have become forces in their own right, and each is substantially different from the others.  (Of course, much of the credit here has to go to George R.R. Martin, author of the series of novels the show is based on, as well as the wonderful actresses who bring the characters to life.) 

Fans of the show eagerly await the impending showdown between Cersei Lannister, the newly crowned Queen of the Iron Throne (who killed all the men who stood in her way), and Daernerys Targaryen, the Dragon Queen (who killed all the men who stood in her way).  Other strong female characters in the series, all of whom overcame horrendous situations of their own, include, Sansa and Arya Stark, Yara Greyjoy, and Brienne of Tarth, among others.

Streaming Services:  Netflix has the most kickass of all kickass women in Jessica Jones, who overcame and killed the mind controller who had been threatening and abusing her and almost everyone she knew.  Rosario Dawson plays Claire Temple, who may become to Netflix heroes what Nick Fury is to the Avengers, crossing over all of its Marvel series, “Jessica Jones,” “Daredevil,” “Luke Cage,” and “Iron Fist.”  She has no super powers, but she’s pretty kickass in her own right.  Other Netflix dramas with powerful women include, “House of Cards,” “Stranger Things,” “The OA,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “The Crown.”

While roles for strong, independent women might be lacking in theatrical movies, they abound for women of all ages on TV everywhere.

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