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Hollywood has always had trouble writing women, probably because everyone who was given the opportunity to write anything was a dude. The industry is finally moving towards more diversity in the writers' room and there are more opportunities for those writers to rise-up through the ranks, creating and helming shows that speak to real women. Because they’re by real women. That seems obvious, but Hollywood apparently isn’t great at math and that equation is finally being put into practice. Also, be warned. There are spoilers ahead.
The blunt, driven, and bright Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) gives us a peak into what women were supposed to be like in the late 1950s. They were supposed to look perfect, have a respectable husband, make sure dinner was on the table by 6:30 p.m., and never let their emotions get the best of them. Oh, thank GOD this woman is departing from those norms. We’re able to see Midge break through to become a full, well-rounded character. She has feelings and desires, she speaks her mind and curses when the mood strikes her. Even in the pilot, we see her beauty routine, cloaked in secrecy from her husband so that, in his eyes, she’s always at 100%. By the second or third episode, she’s been arrested twice. She also relishes learning in a way that we rarely see women do on screen.
The Good Place
Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) is a bad person, or so we are told. She does bad things on earth, but when she moves into whatever the great beyond is, she reflects on her behavior. It’s this introspection that caught my eye as a viewer. Eleanor is acutely aware of herself and the effects that her behavior has on others. But even if Eleanor didn’t try to improve herself during the course of the show, we would STILL see a complicated woman — someone who had a tough childhood and who now takes it out on her friends and family. We’re just lucky enough that in the afterlife, we get to see her internal conflict, her newfound appreciation for philosophical discussion, and a bright future ahead of this dead girl.
Issa Dee (Issa Rae) is a competent, thoughtful black woman who works at a non-profit and has a difficult love life. She spends so much of her time striving to prove herself to her co-workers, her friends, and herself. Issa is tormented by her infidelity, and goes through the beautifully complex work of figuring out if she loves the one she’s with or if she loves what she can’t have. From dick-pics causing car accidents to friends and co-workers she should believe but doesn’t, Issa is a complex young woman who is truly, wonderfully insecure.