No, No, Netflix

August 2, 2009 § 7 Comments

This summer I have been a tiny bit addicted to watching Netflix instantly from my computer. Their eccentric collection has, um, forced me to watch some pretty weird TV. Kindly, Netflix automatically organizes my viewing options into some categories to help me navigate their website. The categories include stuff like “TV sitcoms,” “romance,” “thriller,” “TV show with a strong female lead.”

Wait, what was that last one?

Am I the only one who finds that just a little bit weird? Don’t get me wrong, I love that they suggested shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dead Like Me. Those shows are pretty great, and I think they are great precisely because they have strong, quirky, entertaining females at the center of them. But it seems to me that making an entire Netflix category out of them is just highlighting how odd it is in the movie/TV industries to have such shows. I didn’t see any “TV shows with a strong white male lead.”

Perhaps Netflix is simply reflecting a larger issue, but I can’t help but think that their method of categorization, in some small way, is helping to perpetuate that issue. Then again, perhaps I’m overreacting. Still, it struck me as a little weird, slightly more disconcerting, and entirely blog-worthy.

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§ 7 Responses to No, No, Netflix

  • RMJ says:

    I actually think it’s probably a good thing. There’s no use pretending that men and women are treated the same way in the film/television industry, after all. I think it’s admirable that they recognize that there are shows that do and do not have strong female leads, and try to deliver those that do to potential fans. I also think it might help burgeoning young feminists discover shows that will inspire them.

  • ruthelizabeth says:

    you are probably right, I think I’m really just lamenting the fact that these shows/movies are rare enough to seem special.

  • RMJ says:

    It’s definitely lamentable :)

  • Nell Gwynne says:

    As an actor, I would really appreciate it if Dramatists and Samuel French would have a similar system, mostly because it would make it easier for me to sift through the (literally) gazillions of plays with no, or extremely small, female roles.

    Ugh.

    What needs to happen is more people to write more plays/tv shows/films with strong female roles.

    • mirandanyc says:

      Honestly, I don’t think the problem is that artists aren’t writing roles for strong women; it’s that such work is glossed over by publishers and producers.

  • Indeed. I’ve had a fun idea for a women-centred play for ages, but I didn’t believe in my ability to write dialogue well enough. Recently, we had a read-through of a script I’m writing for an indie movie we’re filming, and the actors loved it, so I think I’m believing I can write dialogue well enough now.

    But I’ve noticed as a community theatre director that using the web sites for scripts & rights makes it almost impossible to find scripts that are women-focused (not necessarily no men, just that the main character or characters are women, and they don’t spend their time only talking about men – call it a Stage Bechdel Test). It’s such a pain in the ass, really.

    So I should go finish the movie, so I can start that play. It’ll be an ensemble cast, five main women roles, plus a small cast of others who’ll each take half a dozen or more roles to support the story-within-the-story. :)

  • Orinoco says:

    I wonder if we’re on the cusp of a new wave of feminism. We seem to have waves of feminism just around or before massive economic downturns, it seems to be cyclical. Remember (if you are old enough) Wonder Woman? Bionic Woman? Charlies Angels? At the end of the last wave of feminism?

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