TV writer Joy Press chronicles the rise of women in television from Murphy Brown through Transparent, detailing the challenges and triumphs of representing the female experience in a male-dominated industry.
Between interviews with the showrunners themselves as well as the writers and actors they employ, and even a set visit to Jill Soloway’s seminal Amazon dramedy, Transparent, Press gives television lovers an inspiring, eye-opening look into the way women are creating groundbreaking, original content.
By the time the author, a former TV critic for The Village Voice, finished her book, Donald Trump had become the first fake-reality-TV character to occupy the Oval Office ... Stealing the Show at times feels a little bereft of urgency. Then again. Here is a collection of women who have managed to make television on their own terms, embodying proof that it can be done ... The author is particularly interested in (and good at describing) the varieties of sexual identities available to women on shows created by women ... And if, in the end, Press can’t quite sustain the optimism that spurred her book proposal, she comes by her anxieties honestly.
It’s only in the last few years that we’re seeing more women of color getting opportunities to create shows, including Issa Rae (Insecure), Ava DuVernay (Queen Sugar) Courtney A. Kemp (Power) and Gloria Calderon Kellett (One Day at a Time). You can understand why Press might have been reluctant to focus on shows that, as she was doing her research, had just one or two seasons under their belt. Still, I would have preferred to hear Press’ analysis of (and interview with) any of the aforementioned women rather than a chapter on Amy Schumer. Press does acknowledge the elephant in the room when she writes about Lena Dunham and Girls, pointing out that the show’s portrayal of 'contemporary New York City was shockingly deficient in racial diversity.' (So was the Washington, D.C.-set Murphy Brown, but that show and others spotlighted in the book get a pass.) ... this is precisely the moment that Hollywood needs to rethink equality as a 'big ask.'