I truly respect and admire the women who appeared in Vanity Fair’s “Special TV Issue”. Or rather, the issue that everyone online is calling the “women of television” issue. They have definitely all contributed to the success of their shows. I’m not going to bash any of them for appearing in the magazine. What I’m questioning is the women who aren’t there. For a special that claims it is focused on women having a great year in television, the magazine focuses on actresses. Are actresses important? Of course they are. Without strong actresses we wouldn’t have successful TV shows. But there are a lot of other people who contribute to a television show’s success, and this year a lot of them happened to be women. There are many women who should have been pictured, but aren’t: Liz Meriwether, Whitney Cummings, Shonda Rhimes, Molly Solomon, Lena Dunham, Liz Feldman, Nahnatchka Khan, Ellen Degeneres, Molly McAleer, Tina Fey, Emily Kapnek, and so many more that naming them all would be ridiculous.
This particular Vanity Fair article is coming out right after Lee Aronsohn (the guy who co-created ‘Two and a Half Men‘) ranted that current television comedies are too focused on women. During this rant he decided to use female genitalia as a euphemism for his disgust. I don’t think this is the place to repeat what was said, but Goggle it. He took things way too far.
Despite my disgust at Aronsohn’s rants, I’m frustrated that his idea of a big insult is linking female comedy to our reproductive parts. We have a man proclaiming, “enough ladies, I get it, you have periods” while completely ignoring the fact that women (who yes, probably do have periods) are managing to produce and write incredibly successful shows this year. Maybe someone needs to show Aronsohn the number of viewers that ‘New Girl‘ and ‘Two Broke Girls‘ have, compared to his own, male-oriented show.
This takes me back to the Vanity Fair issue. The magazine has created a lot of controversy because it pictures the “women of television” either naked in bed, or clothed only in lingerie. And yes, maybe this will help them sell magazines. Unfortunately, it also sells the idea that women’s success lies solely in their sex appeal. I’m sure lots of people are going to only skim this article, immediately argue with me, and say that the magazine has the right to dress women however they want, and that women have the right to agree. Of course that’s true. I’m not even sure I’m opposed to the fact that they are dressed in lingerie. What I’m really worried about is the fact that this particular issue of Vanity Fair is placing the ”women of television” (who are actually “the actresses of television”) into one pretty package. A few of the pictured actresses have producing credits on their shows, but none of them are executive producers or showrunners.
Shouldn’t we be asking for more than this? We need successful women in television to be celebrated more, not less, whatever Aronsohn says. Don’t believe me? Just look at the numbers: in the last year we saw a massive drop in the number of women behind the scenes of television shows. Only 15% of television writers and 18% of show creators are women. If you ask me, we need exactly the opposite of what Aronsohn wants. I want more vagina with my television, please.
Feature image via Vanity Fair.