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In which I tell The Today Show what women want to see on TV…

Yesterday, I blogged about new network market research claiming that women want to see bloody, gory violence perpetrated by their small-screen counterparts — and why that interpretation of the research reflects a crisis of vision on the part of programming decision-makers.

Today, I discussed this issue with The Today Show’s Amy Robach, explaining that it’s not the blood and violence women want–it’s fully fleshed-out, well-written, strong, smart, witty female characters with agency. (I described this as the opposite of all those babes fighting for the lone Y chromosome in their midst on reality shows like The Bachelor and sniping at each other on frenemy series like The Real

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Housewives.) Check it out:

What Women Want to Watch on TV,” The Today Show, NBC, Sept. 4, 2010:

I’ll add to this post a bit later — so, stay tuned for details about why the segment was framed around female TV heroines, rather than “women want blood!” as it was originally going to be. But since I woke up at 5:30am to get to the studio on time, you don’t want me writing much right now.

In the meantime, those snarky media critics over at the Evil Slut Clique TV blog took a partial transcript of the segment (a quick and impressive task, especially at 9am).

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Thanks, Evil Sluts!

And, as always, if you’re interested in issues related to gender (and race, class, sexuality, and more) in news and entertainment media, visit WIMN’s Voices, the group blog of Women In Media & News, where I and dozens of other women analyze news and entertainment media.

15 Responses to “In which I tell The Today Show what women want to see on TV…”

  1.  Ben Atherton-Zeman says: |

    I am so proud of you, my friend! You were so poised and articulate!


  2.  celia says: |

    just glad to see the Today Show picking a smart, sassy, clever and lovely WOMAN to respond to these questions!

    Fabulous work Jennifer!


  3.  Dave says: |

    Nice job! I’m impressed you got such a long interview. But I’m not a regular TODAY watcher; maybe they often allow people to say things of substance.


  4.  Louis cintron says: |

    Proud of you Jen…you’ve worked so hard for this and so many years too! Train wreck that is “tv”


  5.  matttbastard says: |

    Great stuff, Jennifer! Is probably one of the strongest segments re: media I’ve seen on network US TV. Loved how you worked in the part about network execs wanting to cram cheap reality productions down consumers’ throats because they cost less to produce than scripted productions (and, one should note, handily circumvent the Writer’s Guild of America — happy effing Labour Day.)


  6.  Krista says: |

    Now… Hopefully the networks will be able to portray these strong women dressing comfortably to do what they’re able to do instead of adding the continued pressure of having to be half-naked to appeal to shallow men.


  7.  BAC says: |

    Excellent job, Jen. You made all the right points. Now let’s hope network exec’s were listening!



  8.  Jo says: |

    Thanks for representing women and letting them know that we don’t want violence – we want strong, capable women (enough of the desperate housewives and bachelorettes already!)

    (And why so ever did they choose two men and one women to talk about what WOMEN want?! That’s unjust.)

    They did get it right in having a woman interview you – Matt Lauer tends to roll his eyes when the topic is on women’s issues and stick up for men (you know, the ones that control 85% of Congress, the media, and major businesses).

    Thanks and keep the ball rolling!


  9.  Janet says: |

    Jennifer, you were great! And you made it clear, thank you, that TV shows interpret data to suit what they want because of their LACK OF VISION! It’s one of the reasons why I’ve stopped watching TV, but then I miss seeing people like you. I’m glad you shared this.


  10.  Becka says: |

    This was so great, Jen! I was so pleased to see that despite not having a huge amount of time, you were really listened to and taken seriously and therefor able to make some really solid points. Especially the stuff about what women want in regards to reality tv, awesome!


  11.  Cara says: |

    Watched it on the DVR last night! It was awesome.


  12.  Edie says: |

    I love that you mentioned Buffy like 5 times. Fantastic. Also great point on using other weapons for defense (wit/intelligence). Love that. I’m forever telling folks about the huge disparity between what scripted & non-scripted television shows cost to produce. It’s something not enough folks realize. I am happy, however, to see the rise of many shows that focus on a lead female character. Though I do wonder what you think of Weeds or the US of Tara in terms of theer characterization of those female leads. I really enjoy both shows, but I suppose you could easily argue for or against their portrayals…


  13.  Julie Maddox says: |

    I watched your presentation this morning on Today Saturday. Incredible. I am happy to see that you are promoting a positive image of women – not just the stay at home type. I wanted to tell you about a book I read that I really think you need to know about. It is called Frontline Heroes – A Story of Saving Lives by Kurt Larson. In the book, the main character is a male firefighter who is learning about leadership. But, the characters around him are important in the fact he relates the story to learning and shows women in both support roles and leadership roles. It was an interesting dynamic.

    I won’t tell you the entire story but, it has a great outcome for his understanding of leadership and how women have a huge role in making it happen.

    I won’t take too much of your time. Besides I am at work as a firefighter myself and using someone else’s email since mine is blocked at work. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of women not only in hollywood, but in the streets as well.

    Julie Maddox


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