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Why Women Are Taking the Lead

October 11th, 2011 by Hulu Blog

Cecily Knobler is a nationally syndicated radio host, comedienne, and a former quip-thrower on Best Week Ever, a show that is no longer on the air because the title repeatedly lied to us. Some of this story sort of has to do with Hillary Clinton. Trust us: You don’t have to have an opinion about Hillary Clinton to like this article. It’s a device. You do, however, have to have strong feelings about that Speed Racer movie, which made us pass out from the colors. —Ed.

I remember sneaking out of the press screening of Speed Racer for two reasons:

  • 1) It felt like someone (I’m looking at you, Wachowski Brothers) had smeared Pepto Bismol all over the camera lens and directed Emile Hirsch to emote exactly like a piece of cardboard and,
  • 2) It was the night of the California presidential primary election.

As a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, I’d done everything I possibly could to ensure she won the primary. And by everything, I mean, I’d donated 25 dollars and sent an email to four female friends that begged them to give her a chance and ended with a poignant Gloria Steinem quote.

I’d backed Hillary not only because I believed her to be the most qualified candidate, but also because she instilled a sense of pride in me that I hadn’t felt since I’d come in second place during a kindergarten relay race. She was a smart, powerful, capable leader, something I felt was lacking among women in politics, media and entertainment. As I waited for my five year old Blackberry to load the primary results, I thought about what it would be like to have a country represented by a woman. Then, I looked down and saw that a piece of iceberg lettuce was stuck to my elbow (ala Liz Lemon) and I was happy that woman wouldn’t have to be me.

It got me wondering: Why aren’t there more women out there for us to hang our hats on? In television, it seems we’re either bumbling basket-cases (which I can relate to) or ditzy hotties, (which I cannot relate to.) We’re someone’s wife, daughter, wacky mother, but so rarely “the main event.” Luckily Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (and to a slightly lesser extent, Julia Louis-Dreyfus) came along and began to change that. They gave us fuller characters that weren’t just flimsy extensions of a male-driven story.

So this season, I’m elated that so many new TV shows center around a female “star.”

Maria Bello with a fedora? Yes! Kat Dennings with financial issues? Sure! Whitney Cummings in a skin-tight, leather jumpsuit? Okay, you can’t win ‘em all. But with that latter exception, it seems our time has finally to come to tell our stories. Like Hillary, we are smart, tough and sometimes mean. We’re funny, tragic and not simply put on the earth to bear the children of Kevin James and/or Jim Belushi. It’s our time to shine and whine.

To paraphrase Helen Reddy, “We are women, hear us complain about stuff in a charming, likable way.” (Doesn’t quite have the same ring to the original, but alas.)

I hope this trend in television continues so that young women can be inspired to take the lead. And if we can’t all be president in 2008, perhaps we can all at least be the leading lady in our own stories now.