Are Women Too Harsh on Women’s TV Shows?


I spend a lot of my day scanning blogs, due to my day job. As a result, I’ve read a few recent reviews of female-centered shows like Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea? Pretty abysmal reviews, I might mention.

What I haven’t seen are any negative reviews of shows like The League, or Two and A Half Men.

In terms of content, these shows don’t have much to do with one another. Two and A Half (as my father lovingly abbreviates it) and The League are probably only similar insofar as they attract a largely male audience.

And I’ve actually only seen bits of each of these shows, not enough to really review them myself. Sadly, I’ve probably logged the maximum time on Two and A Half, because of my father’s great affection for Charlie Sheen and laugh tracks. And I haven’t even seen the show since what’s-his-face replaced Sheen as the main character.

But that’s okay, because what I’d really like to take a look at is not so much the content of the shows at hand, but the kind of attention they receive.

Female readers are probably familiar with that aspect of life wherein females are demonstratively more critical of other females than they ever are of males. I’m not going to go into why this is a pervading social norm, but just want to recognize here that it’s a common tendency among us.

Male readers may not realize this. But take it from me: it’s true. Or ask your wife, girlfriend, ladyfriend, or other trusted female in your life–I’m fairly confident that they’ll back me up.

So we’ve got The League, a sitcom targeted to fantasy-football playing (younger) adult men, Two and A Half Men, a sitcom targeted to those appreciative of cheesier humor (older) adult (?) men, Whitney, ostensibly directed toward (younger) women of marriageable age, and Are You There, Chelsea?, an edgier (?) comedy directed to (even) younger women.

My point, as I slowly get to it, in offering up these four shows for comparison, is that I’ve not read any negative reviews of The League or Two and A Half Men, nor really even noticed any reviews of either, yet I’ve read or scanned several negative reviews of both Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea?, and no positive reviews of either.

Ladies, why all the snark?

For very basic reasons, I think that these shows–Chelsea and Whitney–are worthwhile. There has been a dearth of female-oriented comedies available on primetime television. Years ago, it seems, there were many–The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laverne & Shirley, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie.

At some point, it seems, women on TV lost their magic. (Or perhaps we un-suspended our disbelief?)

But what will these negative reviews of female-focused television comedies do? Will they challenge writers and producers to enhance the quality of the aforementioned shows? Or will they discourage networks from airing them at all, and lead us into another dark age for female-oriented funny TV?

I don’t know much about how the network bigwigs decide on whether they keep shows–I know some of my favorite programs (okay, one, My So-Called Life), were cancelled, despite excellent reviews and excited audiences. Some shows, of course, (ex: Work It) are deservedly dropped.

I don’t think we need to give femaled-focused shows any easier of a time than their male-focused counterparts. But ladies, do we need to squeeze them off the screen altogether? Isn’t there a place for the lighthearted comedy with a female protagonist?

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