“Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television” (Atria Books), by Joy Press
For the last 15 years, Joy Press has been writing about television for prestigious media outlets. She had a front-row view during television’s Golden Age as strong, confident women pushed boundaries to transform the traditional female role. In “Stealing the Show,” Press chronicles the progress made and applauds the women who are responsible for the movement.
The book begins by highlighting female pioneers in the industry. Press praises powerhouses like Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas who nudged male writers and producers to depict a more accurate description of women. But it wasn’t until the early ’80s that women really hit their stride, thanks to an abrasive fictional journalist named Murphy Brown and the relatable Diane English who created her.
Not only did the show “Murphy Brown” become a household name, it also paved the way for other sharp-tongued women in the field. Roseanne Barr may have been crass and unfiltered in sharing the life of her working-class family, but rambunctious mixed with sentimental is exactly what America wanted at the time.
Years later, Amy Sherman-Palladino, who worked as a writer on “Roseanne,” introduced another important female icon into the television stratosphere: the fully functional single mother/daughter duo. “Gilmore Girls” was a show about intelligent young ladies known for their rapid delivery of lines and nods to current pop culture. Slowly but surely, women were evening out the playing field.
In the early 2000s, while Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), Liz Meriwether (“New Girl”) and Mindy Kaling (“The Mindy Project”) dominated the world of female-driven sitcoms, Shonda Rhimes blew onto the scene with an idea for a medical drama called “Grey’s Anatomy.” In a matter of years, Rhimes juggled a roster of shows and continues to stretch her imagination when it comes to dark and twisted women who command the small screen.
As times change and rules bend, the brave rise up. Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, Jenji Kohan and Jill Soloway are the new female faces in television. These women live to blur the lines between appropriate and unseemly. According to “Stealing the Show,” they are the voices of the next generation of television who will shape future generations to come.