Currently, I am watching two shows on Netflix: The Good Wife and Scott and Bailey. Both are described as “female-driven” in the little Netflix blurb that appears whenever your cursor hovers over the titles.
Ugh ugh. “Female-driven” is driving me insane. Why? Why is it necessary to put a little tag- is it a warning? And what does that mean, anyway? That it has strong female characters -as opposed to weak female characters? Beware? Trigger warning? If you are allergic to seeing females in a position of authority, do not watch? It can’t be in reference to the plot, because the plot is driven as much by males as by females – The Good Wife’s whole story starts when the husband betrays his wife, Scott and Bailey’s overarching plot point is the machinations of Bailey’s (ex)boyfriend. And in both shows, we see women cheating, women lying, women stabbing, women murdering. So it can’t be the plots- it’s the actual characters- showing women as lawyers or police officers. This upsets some peoples’ sensibilities- people who feel women should only be shown as housewives, victims, mistresses, partners and assistants. If you are one of them, do not watch.
Female-driven. It operates as a dirty secret little code, alerting those who are already bitter and full of hate to avoid that show, it is not worth their precious time, it is only about women. Which is a pity, because if they actually took the time to sit down and watch and listen to a story which shows women making the same sorts of mistakes as men, as human as men, then may be they’d become more human, too.
When was the last time you watched a show that was “male-driven”? Oh yes, practically every single show and movie in the history of shows and movies, until perhaps the last decade or so. Why do we never see a warning “male-driven”- indeed, can you imagine a standard show, “Breaking Bad” or “Mad Men” being labelled “male-driven” to warn off potential viewers who might be upset or reluctant to see men doing exciting, story-worthy things?
Things have changed, but when you see a little thing like that, just those two words, you realise how far still we have to go.