Brain Dump: The Connors, Supergirl, Murphy Brown

What’s new on the tube? I’ve been trying out some new shows and some old favorites. Here are a few thoughts on some of those shows. I’ll discuss The Connors, Supergirl, and Murphy Brown. Continue reading “Brain Dump: The Connors, Supergirl, Murphy Brown”

A Personal Manifesto

A couple of decades ago I realized everything in my life up to that point had been determined by men. I can hear my friend Denise shouting, “It’s the patriarchy, stupid!” That’s not it – at least not completely. The patriarchy is still with us. But inside my head, things have changed.

Let’s start with ancient history. I grew up when the movies were westerns with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. Or they were war movies with Aldo Ray and Montgomery Clift. Stories were about men. Books were about men. In college, I majored in English and I read dozens of books by dead white men. Men were supposed to rule the world and women were supposed to let them. I lived with a man who controlled and manipulated everything about my life. And I let him.

Then I stopped letting him.

After that, I wanted to think some new thoughts. I wanted to learn about feminism, which had passed me by. I wanted to read books by women, I wanted to see movies about women, hear songs sung by women, and see TV shows about women.

I’m not saying I started hating men. I like men. I have a son who is the finest man you could ever know. It wasn’t about men. It was about women, about finding the feminine, about understanding the female heart and mind, about finding the essence of what it is to be a woman.

The first thing I did was start reading books by women: Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danicatt, Margaret Atwood, Sara Paretsky, Amy Tan, Mary McCarthy, Annie Proulx, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jeanette Winterson, Sandra Cisneros, Dana Stabenow, Rita Mae Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, Joan Didion, Gloria Steinem, Diana Galbaldon, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Berg, Janet Evanovich, Sarah Waters, Rita Dove. I didn’t care if it was great literature or a speed-readable romance as long as it was by a woman.

No more war movies, no more westerns, no more guys coming of age (girls coming of age are acceptable), no more buddy films about guys. I became attached to films like “The Secret of Roan Inish” and “Practical Magic” and “Thelma and Louise” and “How to Make an American Quilt” that told stories about women. I decided what to go see based on who the female star was – the male star didn’t matter. Did it have Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Queen Latifa, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, Julie Christie, Angela Bassett, Shirley MacLaine, Holly Hunter, Halle Berry, Alfre Woodard, Julia Roberts? I was there.

I started to get a bit picky, a little more demanding. The woman had to really be there. Be a person who added to the film. If “The Fugitive” advertised Sela Ward and she got offed in the beginning so all we could do was watch the hero run around, I was pissed.

Television had some women to offer. There was Mary Tyler Moore. Carol Burnett. There were shows with a lot of male characters and a few memorable female characters. “China Beach” had both Dana Delany and Marg Helgenberger. “Northern Exposure” had Janine Turner and several other interesting women. “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” was all Blair Brown. “Cagney and Lacey” – Woohaw! “Any Day Now” with Annie Potts and Lorraine Toussaint – double woohaw! The four fabulous women on “Sisters” – a quadruple woohaw.

In the last couple of years some really good female led TV has come along. “Saving Grace,” “The Closer,” “In Plain Sight,” “Hawthorne,” “The Good Wife,” “Weeds.” I’m loving it.

And, there was “The L Word.” A show that was practically all women. I so, so loved it. I thought I loved it because I liked Jennifer Beals. I watched every old Jennifer Beals movie that I’d missed over the years. I found dancers, cops, crooks, a naive housewife, a madam, a psychic, a blind wise woman, singers, liars, the bride of Frankenstein and a whole lot of other people, but I didn’t find Jennifer Beals. I only found characters. That’s when I realized the thing that really attracted me was the character of Bette Porter on “The L Word.”

Bette Porter. A strong woman who stands up for herself. She’s not perfect, but she’s powerful and inspiring and a leader. She seems very real there inside the TV.  She’s who I’ve been looking for in all the books, in all the movies, in all the TV shows. She’s in the courageous politicians I look up to. She’s in the tech savvy leaders I admire like the founders of BlogHer. She’s in the organizers for charity and the women who fight against injustice. She’s in the writers who tell stories that change the world. She’s in my daughter, who’s raising a kid with no help from the father. She’s in my grandkids, who don’t take shit from anybody.

Real women I know have courage and strength and power. Maybe even I do. I’ve been trying to figure that one out for about 20 years. I could be close to an answer.

[Reprinted from Two decades of women on First 50 Words.  This post was first written in August 2010. I decided to repost it here as well because it’s relevant to why I started this blog.]

Review: The Man in the High Castle, season 3

Season 3 of Amazon’s original The Man in the High Castle is a grim look at an alternate world where the Nazi Reich grows ever stronger. Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) continues to be the brightest light in a divided America. Continue reading “Review: The Man in the High Castle, season 3”

Review: Keeping Faith

Keeping Faith is a Welsh drama from the UK. Like Hinterland it was shot twice, once in Welsh and once in English. It’s an 8 part series. Keeping Faith is a tense and suspense filled drama set on the southern coast of Wales. There are minor spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Keeping Faith”

Review: The Level

The Level is a police thriller from the UK. It’s currently available on Acorn TV. I watched all 6 episodes of season 1 with interest. It wasn’t renewed for a second season, and for good reasons. It’s an acceptable mystery for fans of the genre.  Flawed but watchable. Continue reading “Review: The Level”

Watch This: Trailer for The Little Drummer Girl

The Little Drummer Girl is a three night mini-series coming to AMC starting November 19. It’s based on the John le Carré novel. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for The Little Drummer Girl”

Watch This: Trailer for Origin, a YouTube Original

YouTube is promoting Origin, one of the offerings from its new YouTube Premium subscription, to tempt viewers to join the service. Origin looks like a well done space adventure, and it may do the trick of bringing in new subscribers. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for Origin, a YouTube Original”

Review: The First

The First, a Hulu original series, was advertised and promoted as a heroic space adventure in the style of The Right Stuff. Astronauts in space suits and talk about a mission to Mars were in the posters and teasers. That isn’t what this story is about. The marketing is misleading. Continue reading “Review: The First”

Review: Crashing

Crashing is a British comedy series written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge. There are six short episodes of this funny look at a group of people who live together as property guardians of a disused hospital. Continue reading “Review: Crashing”

Watch This: Trailer for House of Cards, the final season

I confess, I stopped watching House of Cards when Trump was elected. It was all too much with a real-life horrible man in the White House and a character no better than him at the top of House of Cards. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for House of Cards, the final season”