Upcoming TV Series with Female Leads

New TV series in the works with women in the lead or co-lead roles look very good. Some start as soon as summer, some are scheduled for fall.

Starting in June on TNT is Murder in the First, which stars Teye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson. Kathleen Robertson may not continue throughout the series as lead, because she’s only in 7 of the 9 episodes that comprise the first season, but it’s worth checking out. Murder in the First is a Steven Bochco production. Bochco has a long string of successful police dramas behind him, including NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, and LA Law.

Also coming to TNT, but not until fall or possibly 2015 is the new Jennifer Beals supernatural medical drama Proof. Proof also stars Matthew Modine and Joe Morton. The series is produced by Kyra Sedgwick. Of everything that’s coming, and a lot of it looks really good, I’m very excited about seeing Jennifer Beals back on my TV every week.

Jennifer seems excited about working with Matthew Modine.

TNT announced casting Julia Stiles in a legal drama called Guilt by Association but I haven’t seen any follow up news about the pilot being picked up.

Red Band Society

Red Band Society is a remake of a Spanish series. Octavia Spencer leads the cast of this tale about teenagers living in a pediatric wing of a hospital. It will be on Fox.

Taraji P Hanson

Fox also scheduled Empire starring Taraji P. Hanson and Terrance Howard. This series is about a family who runs a hip hop empire. The music is supposed to be excellent, if you’re a hip hop fan. The show is by Lee Daniels and features many well-known African American actors including Gabourey Sidibe.

Another new show with a woman of color in the lead is Shonda Rhimes new drama, How to Get Away with Murder. Viola Davis will star in this legal thriller as a criminal defense professor who gets tangled up in a murder plot. Anything Shonda Rhimes does is going to make a big impression. This one should be a hit for ABC for sure.

State of Affairs

NBC brings us State of Affairs starring Katherine Heigl as a CIA Agent who reports to the U.S. President. The President is Alfre Woodard, who is one of my all-time favorites. These two should be fabulous together.

Anna Friel

Another political drama on NBC is Odyssey. It stars Anna Friel as a soldier. Odyssey is described as a sprawling international conspiracy that ties together three very different characters – a female soldier, a corporate lawyer and a young political activist. The other two characters in this threesome are played by Peter Facinelli and Jake Robinson.

TV is where women are making a mark these days, and these upcoming shows are part of that trend. Do any of these shows look especially interesting to you? What are you planning to watch? Did I miss anything new with a female lead?

Review: Season 3 of Blue from WIGS

Season 3 of Blue from WIGS went online on Friday. It’s on Hulu, not on YouTube. It’s also available on WatchWIGS.com. While still free, even on Hulu, it has a different feel from the first two seasons.

Blue poster © WIGSCO, LLC
Blue poster © WIGSCO, LLC

The story and Blue as a character aren’t different. Blue’s still the same mysterious and guarded mom/escort she was in the first two seasons. It’s the shift to Hulu that’s different.

In seasons 1 and 2, which are still available on YouTube, the episodes were each a single scene of 6 or 8 minutes. The four new episodes of season 3 are longer, each one would basically fill an hour long drama on a regular TV channel. There are a whole helluva lot of ads, also like regular TV. Fox happens to own Hulu, and the longer episodes feel more expensively produced and more corporate. Like they might show up on Fox.

The non-corporate, non-establishment and daring experimental nature of the entire WIGS project and library of films was a big draw for me. Each series was about women, each series was quickly made on a limited budget. Each series had women in the lead who were well-known and who were willing to take part in an experimental and innovative idea to try to find a way to use new media to get more stories about women out into the world. I really loved that aspect of WIGS. In July of last year, I wrote my original impressions of WIGS in WIGS: Web Series Extraordinaire.

Do Watch Blue

The edgy experimental feeling may be gone, but don’t let that stop you from watching season 3 of Blue. Julia Stiles is as good as ever as the mom who has a secret life as a call girl. Uriah Shelton still does a great job as her teenaged son, Josh. Blue still struggles with her past, her mother (a marvelous Kathleen Quinlan), her mysterious former lover, step-father and nemesis Olsen (James Morrison), her co-workers at her day job as an accountant. The series is still directed by Rodrigo García.

In Series 3, Blue’s apartment is filled with Blue’s moocher of a sister Lara (Jane O’Hara – who is Julia Stiles actual sister) and Lara’s girlfriend Satya, played by the golden-voiced Alexz Johnson. In the midst of this crowding, there are complications with Josh’s girlfriend (Brooklyn Lowe) and Blue falls for one of her clients, played by Eric Stoltz. We peer more deeply into Blue and several other characters develop more depth as well.

There’s some evolution in the writing in season 3 of Blue. The man Blue was somewhat attracted to in season 2 disappeared. We meet several new characters and some of the characters important in the first two seasons only make brief appearances. One thing was so illogical it was hard to understand: in a two bedroom apartment with guests taking over Josh’s bedroom, why does Blue need to leave her bedroom, too? Both Josh and Blue end up sleeping on the fold out couch.

Nevertheless, Blue remains great storytelling with a fascinating central character. I miss that sense of adventure that the short episodes of WIGS on YouTube gave me – that sense that I was part of something that could move stories about women ahead in the public consciousness. I miss the sense that by supporting WIGS, I was supporting films about women.

The enthusiastic support from me and many others like me got noticed, because Hulu showed an interest, which means big corporate dollars are interested in these stories about women. Hurrah, it worked. But dang, I miss the excitement of how it began.

Check out Paloma, too

Also out with a new episode last week is the WIGS series Paloma. Paloma stars Grace Gummer and was written and directed by Julia Stiles.

Addendum

Seems I was wrong about the two bedrooms:

What do you Think of the Summer Pilots?

The other day I mentioned a couple of pilots on TNT that I’m super excited about that star Jennifer Beals and Julia Stiles. The big networks – NBC, CBS, ABC, CW, and FOX – all have a full slate of summer shows lined up. You can see the full list by following the links.

I want to mention the ones that look good to me, the ones that have a female in the leading role, and the ones I think might be worth watching. I’d love to hear what you think about the summer lineup, so speak up in the comments.

There are lots of comic book spinoffs, zombies, and aliens in the schedules. Lots of comedies and a few dramas.

On NBC

A variation on the zombie craze, Babylon Fields will star Virginia Madsen, Meagan Good, Skeet Ulrich, Ritchie Coster, Yul Vazquez and Kyle Schmid.

Debra Messing will lead the cast in a police procedural called Mysteries of Laura. It’s based on a Spanish series. Messing and her husband solve crimes while dealing with their twin sons.

Odyssey has a female soldier at the helm, played by Anna Friel. The plot centers around an international mystery.

Katherine Heigl will join the CIA in State of Affairs. She’s counselor to the President. Maybe she’ll run into Olivia Pope in D.C.

NBC has a ton of new comedies. The most interesting one stars Natasha Lyonne and is called Old Soul. I’ve mentioned this one before.

Another comedy that looks promising is produced by Ellen DeGeneres. One Big Happy is about a gay woman (Elisha Cuthbert) and her straight best friend (Nick Zano), who decide to have a baby together.

On CBS

Tea Leoni will be the Secretary of State in Madam Secretary. Morgan Freeman is producing this one. Tim Daly, Geoffrey Arend, Patina Miller, Erich Bergen and Katherine Herzer will also star.

Patricia Arquette will star in an as-yet-unnamed CSI spinoff. It sounds very high tech in concept, rather like the current show Intelligence because it involves a lot of cyber security. But I don’t think any of the FBI agents in this show have chips in their brains.

Jamie Lee Curtis is a hospital administrator whose four children – quadruplets – all work at the hospital. Oh, and the children grew up on a reality show. This show doesn’t have a name yet either.

On ABC

Danish series have been adapted for American TV with great success. Jennifer Carpenter will be in Sea of Fire, another Danish adaptation. This one is an FBI story.

Warriors will be a medical drama. The cast includes Morena Baccarin, Don Hany, Courtney B. Vance, Justina Machado, Greg Grunberg, Steve Kazee, Hampton Fluker, Abbie Cobb and Eloise Mumford.

On FOX

Cabot College is a comedy produced by Tina Fey. A show can’t get much more promising than that.  Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Bonnie Dennison, Ely Henry, Asif Ali, Jack Cutmore-Scott and Brandon Jones will star.

On the CW

I don’t see anything that tempts me on this network.

Again, you can see the full lineup of summer shows here: NBC, CBS, ABC, CW, and FOX. I’d love to hear what you think about the ones I consider hopeful, or if you see something else that didn’t catch my eye that looks really good to you.

TNT, I love you

Today I celebrate two intelligent, talented, and inspiring actresses who have starring roles in two new TNT pilots.

Jennifer Beals will be in Proof, which is described as a supernatural medical drama. Beals will play a surgeon. The executive producer is Kyra Sedgwick.

Julia Stiles will star in Guilt by Association. This story is based on a book by former prosecutor Marcia Clark. Stiles plays a Deputy DA in the LA County District Attorney’s office. Rose Rollins and Elisabeth Röhm are also in the cast.

I love this news from TNT. I love that new shows are developed that star such awesome women. I love that they are coming from a cable network. I can’t wait to see both of the pilots and hope the shows are picked up for many happy seasons with Jennifer Beals and Julia Stiles at the helm.

Doing the happy dance over the possibility of two more female lead dramas on my TV each week.

Watch This: Teaser for S3 of Blue

The WIGS series includes many wonderful films. One of the best is Blue starring Julia Stiles. Catch up on the first two seasons of Blue and the other WIGS series, if you haven’t seen them. You’ll be hooked quickly.

Season 3 of Blue will be released March 28. Some back story if this teaser is news to you: Julia Stiles plays a prostitute / office worker. She has a teen aged son played by Uriah Shelton. Blue is smart, guarded, and full of secrets. Secrets have a way of trying to come out, don’t they? That and trying to hide her secret life from her son make for a lot of tension in Blue’s life.

Julia Stiles is absolutely fantastic in this series.

Learn more about WIGS in this post.

WIGS: Web Series Extraordinaire

Triian Bellasario
Troian Bellasario in Lauren. Image via Frikarte

Some of the best stories you’ll find anywhere are now playing on your computer on a YouTube channel called WIGS. WIGS offers original series, short films, and documentaries, all starring female leads.

There are numerous offerings on WIGS. Some films are one episode, some 3, some 12, some with more than one season. All feature well-known female leads such as America Ferrera, Virginia Madsen, Maura Tierney, Julia Stiles, Jennifer Beals, Troian Bellasario, Anna Paquin, and more. The many male actors who populate these tales are well-known, too, but the purpose of the films is to feature the women. The documentaries feature women.

I’ll mention my favorite series. I hope you’ll explore them all, because they are all good.

Lauren

Lauren is a drama about rape in the military. It stars Troian Bellasario as Lauren, the soldier who is raped. Jennifer Beals is Major Stone, the officer to whom Lauren turns for justice.

If you’ve paid attention to the headlines recently, you know justice for crimes of sexual assault does not automatically happen in military culture. Lauren is not an easy series. It’s tense and full of unfairness that makes you want to scream.

Here is episode one.

There were 3 original episodes in Lauren. It was so well-received and so important a topic that 12 more episodes were shot as a second season. The story doesn’t end at the end of season 2. I’m hoping there will be a season 3 to bring closure to the story.

Jennifer Beals and Troian Bellasario are fabulous together in Lauren. There’s great chemistry and tension between the two, as you can see in the first episode.

Blue

Blue features Julia Stiles as a single mom who supplements her income as a call girl. There were 12 episodes in season 1. Season 2 had 26 episodes. There is room for a season 3 in the story, which was unresolved at the end of season 2. Blue may end up being a full blown movie. Here is the first episode.

Julia Stiles is remarkable in this role. Blue is so complex and has so much to hide (and so much to lose) that it’s fascinating to watch her life open up a little more to the viewer in each episode.

Julia Stiles wrote and directed a series of her own on WIGS, called Paloma, which features Grace Gummer. Yeah, it’s that kind of woman-power.

Ruth and Erica

Ruth and Erica features Maura Tierney and Lois Smith. Tierney is trying to get her parents out of the family home and into a facility where they can care for her father (Phillip Baker Hall) who has Alzheimer’s disease.

There are 13 episodes. Here is the first.

Ruth and Erica is told and acted and shot with great tenderness and love. The scenes between Lois Smith and Phillip Baker Hall as the loving old couple dealing with Alzheimer’s are beautiful and tender and heartbreaking. The two of them are exquisite together. I’d love Ruth and Erica for this couple alone, but Maura Tierney has her own storyline independent of her parents’ drama that is intriguing as well.

This series was resolved at the end of 13 episodes, so I don’t think another season is in the works for it. It would be wonderful if someone would write another series for Lois Smith and Phillip Baker Hall with a story to tell that was about elders living life fully.

Susanna

Susanna features Maggie Grace and Anna Paquin. The two play sisters. Anna Paquin is a new mother with postpartum depression. She is scary-wonderful in this role. She had me holding my breath during most of her early scenes. Maggie Grace is the sister who gets called in to help when things get impossible.

Here’s episode 1 of 12.

I’ve been watching Anna Paquin perform marvels on a screen ever since The Piano so I wasn’t that surprised by her wonderful performance. However, I’d never heard of Maggie Grace (I’ve never watched Lost or Californication or Taken – unbelievable, right?). Seeing Maggie Grace was an education. She’s really gifted and does some revelatory things with her part as Susanna.

A second season for this story is a must have. I don’t think one has been announced yet, however. Come on, WIGS, bring it.

Why WIGS is among my favorites

It’s all about the women. The women are the center and the source of all the interestingness.

WIGS has men, too. Unlike shows that are all about the men, where the women are just cardboard cutouts by the man’s side, the men in WIGS are developed characters. This kind of equality makes for a better set of stories. We need millions more stories like these just to catch up with all the stories about complex, real men.

It’s about life. Real life. It isn’t about explosions or saving the world by killing great swaths of people without ever thinking about the consequences. It’s about the way real people live.

Have you watched any of the WIGS web series? What were your favorites?

Get over to YouTube or Watchwigs.com and check out these great stories.