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Can You Be A Feminist and Enjoy TV Shows That Don't Hire Women Directors?

By Jodi Smith | Industry | June 22, 2015 |

By Jodi Smith | Industry | June 22, 2015 |

As we learned earlier today, NBC has cancelled the exquisite Hannibal. I haven’t caught up on the series due to life being a real asshole about taking up all of my time, but I was entirely entranced by the episodes that I did get to watch. I found, and find, Hannibal to be well-written, superbly acted, and I thought that the female characters were fully-formed humans. I thought I was eschewing the Hollywood bullshit that plagues female characters. Alas.

I understand Lexi Alexander, Oscar-nominated director and obviously a woman, would be more aware that women and other minorities are rarely, if ever, hired to direct television episodes. I didn’t realize that this was something else that I, as a feminist, should be aware of while choosing my entertainment.

I didn’t mean to be a part of the problem. I didn’t know that the Directors Guild of America releases a report every fall detailing the best and worst series in terms of whether they hire women and minorities. Alexander linked to the list and Hannibal sits at number 10 on the list, meaning 100% of the series episodes were directed by white men. In fact, I was surprised at the inequality behind the camera.

Series that had 0% women and/or minority directors include:

The Exes
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Other series below the 15% women and/or minority director threshold between “Worst Of” and “Best Of” include:

Girl Meets World - 5%
Supernatural - 6%
Justified - 8%
The Mindy Project - 9%

On the flip side, these series meet the DGA criteria for their “Best Of” list:

Mike & Molly - 68%
Devious Maids - 54%
The Good Wife - 50%
American Horror Story - 46%
Girls - 42%
Orange is the New Black - 42%
Two Broke Girls - 42%

I’m conflicted. Here are some shows that employ women and minorities behind the scenes. Most of them employ the same in acting roles. However, some of these shows revel in painting women as evil and promiscuous or use women and/or minorities as punch lines in the name of entertainment. I would prefer not to give these specific shows my Feminist Stamp of Approval, as they are front and center with the heinous.

It’s another stumbling block to a generation attempting to engage in activism while ensuring that it doesn’t cost them too much and they can do it from their couch. Is it too much to ask that people demand equality in all aspects of their entertainment, all of the time? Or is it much more absurd to refuse to give up a television show in order to make a difference in hiring practices and society?

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Jodi Smith is a Senior Reporter, Film & Television at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.