"Mozart in the Jungle" has three of the raddest feminist female characters on TV
We get it — there’s just too much good TV right now. It seems like every week there’s a new show which immediately becomes the hot new thing to make endless GIFS about, and which forces you to monitor your Twitter feed lest someone spoil an episode and basically ruin your life. It’s totally understandable why your entertainment radar may have skipped over Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, but it’s a shame because not only is the series a big-time Golden Globe winner, it’s one of the best feminist shows of the moment.
The half-hour comedy, which premiered last year and launched its 10-episode second season in December, is adapted from Blair Tindall’s 2005 memoir Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, which chronicled her career as a professional oboist in the New York Philharmonic and with various Broadway orchestras. She’s a woman who climbed to the top of the classical music world — which has a long history of discrimination towards female musicians, composers, and conductors — by mastering one of the most difficult instruments in the orchestra. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Mozart in the Jungle showcases a variety of strong female characters of all ages, personalities, and attitudes in an environment that thrives on confidence, talent, and inner strength. Here are three of the show’s powerful female characters, that we absolutely love to love.
Bernadette Peters as Gloria Windsor is a goddess
In a gift straight from the casting gods, Broadway legend Bernadette Peters stars as Gloria Windsor, president of the New York Symphony and all-around HBIC. Whether she’s trying to smooth over the bruised ego of Malcolm McDowell’s petulant former conductor Thomas Pembridge, or debating an aggressive board member over the new direction the orchestra has taken, Peters offers a master class in how to stand your ground and speak your mind as calmly and purposefully as if you were ordering a latte (even if inside you’re basically Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”). Though she’s often at odds with her board and her orchestra, Gloria never comes across as the villain, she’s just a lady in charge.
We have all been Hailey Rutledge at one point or another
You may recognize Lola Kirke (yup, she’s Jemima’s sister) from memorable roles in Gone Girl and Mistress America, but if anything is going to make her a star it’s her magnetic and relatable performance as Hailey Rutledge, a young oboist who dreams of playing with the Philharmonic. She’s a typical 20-something New Yorker in that she’s constantly rushing from one job to the next, and is ambivalent about her relationship with a cute bartender who just happens to be an amazing ballet dancer. But Kirke brings out Hailey’s determination and ambition in such a way that her doubt actually becomes indicative of her talent and confidence in the face of obstacle after obstacle. Her struggle to balance the pressures of playing with the orchestra with her strong personal relationship with Rodrigo, the wildly idiosyncratic conductor played by Golden Globe-winner Gael Garćia Bernal, will give you flashbacks to your own awkward shuffle towards adulthood.
Cynthia Taylor is the older sister you wish you had
Cynthia Taylor (played by Saffron Burrows), is the cellist who brings Hailey into the orchestra. Her character offers a middle ground between Peters’ corporate ringmaster and Kirke’s newbie musician. It’s easy to see why Hailey would be grateful for her help in navigating the sometimes cutthroat world of the Philharmonic — Cynthia is effortlessly cool and poised in a way that suggests she’s at peace with herself and her chosen path in life. And it seems that she is for the most part, except for the fact that the chronic pain in her wrist is getting worse and pills seem to be taking the edge off. Still, Burrows finds the center in a sea of chaos and demonstrates that sometimes older does mean wiser — but not always.