Hiring women works.
April 17, 2016 5:49 PM   Subscribe

How Lifetime Became One Of The Best Places In Hollywood For Women. Since Lifetime’s acquisition by A&E Networks in 2009, the channel has mounted a successful effort to legitimize itself — 12 Emmy nominations in 2013, and 17 in 2014. This new legitimacy has hinged on two strategies: Lifetime’s prioritizing the hiring of women to write and direct their stories, and its witty, postmodern self-awareness of its own tropes.

Even if Lifetime’s been labeled a “guilty pleasure,” millions of us have been watching it for decades. So to dismiss Lifetime’s brand, content, and viewership is to dismiss a media company for and by women worth almost $900 million. It is to dismiss the only channel on television whose top five original films of 2015 were all directed by women, at a time when women still direct only 7% of major films. Critics may have ignored the channel until Unreal, but Lifetime has been producing increasingly vanguard work on women’s issues, and building the strongest employment hub for women in major entertainment, for 20 years. Lifetime has long contributed to the mainstreaming of feminism, and now, feminism’s move to center stage has made Lifetime more relevant than ever.
...
“Hiring women works,” said Lopez. “Mentoring, internships, all those things are fine at a certain entry-place level, but the truth of the matter is people just want to go to work. Our North Star is: Give. Women. Jobs. That’s the only way it’s gonna change.”

Gender parity, Sharenow explained, is “an incredible point of pride for us as a company. I want to have our pride in this area be a beacon for the industry. A lot of those biases that people have against taking chances on women and hiring women — look over here, we’ve got some of the best stuff on TV, and it’s being recognized.”
posted by triggerfinger (70 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
it is admirable that they are giving women jobs. Now if they could just improve the quality of their shows (and yes, I've seen a sampling of their wares), I'd be watching.

People aren't calling it "guilty pleasure TV" because they're being dismissive of women, they're saying that because a lot of their offerings are formulaic. Some women actually are interested in things other than melodrama about women.

(Actually, there's a case to be made for them picking up production of LAW AND ORDER SVU if NBC ever folds on it - there's the strong female lead, and while it is formulaic, it's a different formula they've not done before.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 PM on April 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Actually reading the article, I was impressed with how much Lifetime has managed to improve and start to gather award nomination recognition and stuff. I've been marginally aware of what they offer for a while, and while I don't seek it out, it does seem like it is has an upwardly-moving reputation. Good for them!
posted by hippybear at 6:11 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Does Lifetime have any genre programming? Science fiction dramas, maybe? As a rule I'm not interested in shows about humans set on present-day Earth; that's the kind of nonsense I watch TV to escape from.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:18 PM on April 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Some women are interested in things other than melodrama about other women, definitely, but at least personally I have found it is very difficult to tease out the places where "my personal dislike of Lifetime programming" is meeting with "I have been told for thirty years that things stereotypically For Women are worthless, especially things centering ladies' feelings."
posted by corb at 6:50 PM on April 17, 2016 [34 favorites]


People aren't calling it "guilty pleasure TV" because they're being dismissive of women, they're saying that because a lot of their offerings are formulaic.

That is exactly why they call it "guilty pleasure TV." I have never heard a man refer to the action movie schlock/sci fi schlock/vaguely pornographic schlock he watches as a "guilty pleasure." (I watch plenty of primarily male-oriented garbage but as a woman I'm programmed to feel vaguely ashamed for every nonserious thing I do.)

I don't have cable, but if I did I'd probably find myself watching Lifetime like I used to with my mom and sisters at home. At its worst, it's hilarious; at its mediocre, it's cathartic genre tearjerker stuff; at it's best, it's entertaining with relatively interesting social commentary.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:53 PM on April 17, 2016 [19 favorites]


My understanding is that Unreal is really good. Like good enough that its creators and stuff have been being sought out for interviews on a lot of the podcasts and programming that I listen to. Apparently it's all on hulu. Maybe I will give it a watch tonight.
posted by hippybear at 6:55 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just miss the days when Lifetime aired reruns of Robert Stack Unsolved Mysteries.
posted by Automocar at 6:55 PM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


.Does Lifetime have any genre programming? Science fiction dramas, maybe? As a rule I'm not interested in shows about humans set on present-day Earth; that's the kind of nonsense I watch TV to escape from.

If you'd read the article, you would see that they're making a vampire movie right now!
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:57 PM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Some women actually are interested in things other than melodrama about women.

This also reads as a funny statement to me, because if you just replace "women" with "men" and add car chases/weapons you have pretty much every popular male-targeted film ever, including Star Wars, the Bond films, etc.

It's funny how those are raised to the level of Major Cultural Touchstones (and I like Star Wars and Bond, so I'm not complaining) but most movies for women that achieve that perfect level of entertainment, camp, and visuals are not seen as culturally significant or "about" anything.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:00 PM on April 17, 2016 [22 favorites]


"My understanding is that Unreal is really good."

It's so good it is actively stressful to watch because the characters and their failings are too real.

It is not my usual fare, jeather convinced me to give it a go, and I basically binge-watched the whole season.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:01 PM on April 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


Unreal is FANTASTIC and everyone should watch it immediately. Yes, it's set on a reality tv show, but it's just this amazingly complex antiheroine drama where the main characters are women and lots of the supporting characters are women.

It isn't perfect, and if you don't like antihero stories it isn't for you, but if you just think it would be nice to see Breaking Bad where Walt was a female tv producer, this is your show.

(I have badgered lots of people into watching this show.)
posted by jeather at 7:14 PM on April 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


I have never heard a man refer to the action movie schlock/sci fi schlock/vaguely pornographic schlock he watches as a "guilty pleasure."

I guess you don't talk to men about the things they watch very often, then. That's a very common phrase and idea, and it is in no way gender-coded.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:15 PM on April 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have never heard a man refer to the action movie schlock/sci fi schlock/vaguely pornographic schlock he watches as a "guilty pleasure."

I have little doubt that there are many men who aren't particularly aware of how schlocky a lot of their preferred viewing is, and perhaps more who've never used the phrase "guilty pleasure."

But FWIW, I have deployed and heard that very phrase used by men in my circle, and more often heard related phrases like "pure escapism" or "over the top" along with self-aware discussions of wry enjoyment despite acknowledgment of significant weaknesses in plot, character development, production values, adherence to any sort of physics or even magic rules, etc etc.
posted by wildblueyonder at 7:17 PM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


It seems (to me, anyway) that films like this that are targeted towards men can still manage to garner some critical acclaim despite their schlocky-ness, while the ones targeted towards women are pretty generally roundly dismissed as garbage.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:23 PM on April 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


If Mallory Ortberg starts writing for them, we could probably institute a proper gynocracy within a few years.
posted by clockzero at 7:40 PM on April 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


I think there is that tendency, yeah, triggerfinger; I wouldn't make the comparison between Lifetime and e.g. Star Wars so much as with, like...SyFy? Cable channels with pretty strong thematic identities, both sort of known popularly for churning out budget content, but if you set down a random Lifetime movie against Sharknado you can see a different pattern of perception of the merits of being a fan. Lots of folks will gloriously pan Sharknado while also being down to watch (and down to talk about wanting to watch, or having watched, or...) in a way that's not really in the cards for the domestic melodrama of the week, even if the writing and production values are about the same.

I definitely talk about my guilty pleasures, which are usually pretty bad horror films that I'm watching anyway (hey, you should definitely not bother with "#horror", which is on Netflix right now or maybe you should or, man, that fuckin' film), but at that my relationship with the media I consume and how I talk about it definitely isn't the same as my friends so I can see the variability of dudes talking about what they watch and why and how they feel about it being pretty significant. And it's maybe telling that horror, too, has that sort of cachet of even bad is good, even schlock has its charms, that I don't see (in the US anyway) translating to Lifetime type stuff.
posted by cortex at 7:41 PM on April 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Lifetime just coproduced (with the BBC) an absolutely thrilling adaptation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Kind of surprised it wasn't mentioned in the article - it aired in the US last month. Highly recommended.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:52 PM on April 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


I guess you don't talk to men about the things they watch very often, then. That's a very common phrase and idea, and it is in no way gender-coded.

Sorry, I was exaggerating-- I've heard it from nebbish types and intellectual types who have also learned to be ashamed of what they like, particularly writers/critics. But yes, I've talked to lots of men about the things they/we watch very often, and I've never heard a man say out loud, in real life, that something was a "guilty pleasure" unless in academic company or over a craft beer. All the women I know, on the other hand, are constantly apologetic about the things they like, particularly when men are around.

It doesn't matter anyway, since Star Wars, dumb schlock that it is, was beloved of every male intellectual I know. The one thing that compares for women now days is maybe Golden Girls? It's about women, and also campy, though not nearly as huge culturally obviously, and the majority of men I know haven't watched it/been wrangled into watching it. I didn't watch Star Wars until I was older than the average child and I constantly had men being like "OMG I MUST EXPOSE YOU TO IT!" despite it being utterly un-life changing.

It is soooo gender-coded, it's not even funny. If a man says "that pie I just ate was sinful!" it doesn't mean that the coding of eating = sinful isn't predominantly gender coded.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:18 PM on April 17, 2016 [18 favorites]


And it's maybe telling that horror, too, has that sort of cachet of even bad is good, even schlock has its charms, that I don't see (in the US anyway) translating to Lifetime type stuff.

I actually find that a lot of women, in groups of mostly other women, will very much praise Lifetime in "even schlock has its charms" terms. I think the really painful part, socially, for most women is that even when a group has a couple or more men in it, the conversation is usually usurped by "god that stuff is so stupid, I'm clearly looking down on all you women" or "hey lets have a conversation about the thing that me and other guy are obsessed with while ignoring all the women or letting them 'oooh' and 'ahhh' at our edginess."
posted by stoneandstar at 8:23 PM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


I also have one very good male friend with whom I can talk about the Hellraiser movies and the Tyra Show and I will always love him for being an equal opportunity schlock-lover.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:27 PM on April 17, 2016


"This also reads as a funny statement to me, because if you just replace "women" with "men" and add car chases/weapons you have pretty much every popular male-targeted film ever, including Star Wars, the Bond films, etc."

Well, yeah, if you replace "women" with "men" and then change the genres entirely. But the thing is, while the studios think that Star Wars and the Bond films and whatever are male targeted, they really aren't. Tons of women watch these films. And now, hopefully, studios are realizing this. That's why we started seeing movies like "Spy" (which is epic) and "The Heat" (which I've yet to see but since it's apparently available on Canadian Netflix I may be able to watch it soon). Ryan Reynolds even talked about this when he was doing his Deadpool promotion media circuit:

http://mashable.com/2016/02/15/reynolds-superhero/
posted by I-baLL at 8:33 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


But the thing is, while the studios think that Star Wars and the Bond films and whatever are male targeted

And they are right about that. Bond/etc are absolutely marketed at men.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:35 PM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


The one thing that compares for women now days is maybe Golden Girls?

I find that gay men of a certain age and older have all watched, and continue to watch, Golden Girls.
posted by hippybear at 9:06 PM on April 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


and then change the genres entirely

Who cares about genre, though? Star Wars is male-driven melodrama in space. It's not exactly hard SF. The Bond films are exceedingly flimsy espionage movies filled with terribly spycraft that are frankly more like vacation films set at sex resorts. They are essentially a Harlequin romance with space costumes and softcore vacation/action films, subgenre: male.

They get a lot of credit for being the seed of where entertainment is today, but it's kind of baffling how something that is really so bad in terms of creative juice becomes significant because it is male, and men spend money on it.

they really aren't

Yes, yes they are. Women still watch them for many reasons (I do, and I enjoy them very much), but it's very obvious that men don't feel equally compelled to watch Bridget Jones' Diary.

Also, The Heat is awesome. But the reason I really love McCarthy is that she depicts female characters that are very under-depicted (or basically never depicted) in American mainstream entertainment. I think this must have something to do with McCarthy herself and her creative choices/collaborations, because she does it so consistently.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:17 PM on April 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


But the thing is, while the studios think that Star Wars and the Bond films and whatever are male targeted, they really aren't.

Oh good, then there's no chance of seeing a bunch of guys lose their shit because a woman is the "Luke Skywalker" of the new Star Wars Trilogy and . . . . . um . . . . . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 9:21 PM on April 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


As long as they put her in a metal bikini next time, I'm sure it will be all good.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:23 PM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well, the Force Awakens made over 2 billion dollars so I don't think it was a lot of guys losing their shit. If I remember correctly, it was the marketing people losing their shit since they didn't make almost any Rey toys and somehow did not foresee her popularity even though she was, without a doubt in my mind, the obvious main hero of the movie.
posted by I-baLL at 9:25 PM on April 17, 2016


This is really interesting. I noted down some Lifetime movies to check out (all black production of Steel Magnolias with Alfre Woodard and Phylicia Rashad? Hells yeah!), and in the big picture, this reminds me of how Pintrest has (quick googling....) 70 million monthly viewers, but isn't mentioned in the same breath as Facebook and Twitter because it is vastly disproportionately female in it's user base.
posted by latkes at 9:27 PM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, the Force Awakens made over 2 billion dollars so I don't think it was a lot of guys losing their shit.

The film was enormously financially successful; in the mean time, there was a whole bunch of dudes-losing-their-shit-on-the-internet regarding Rey as female lead (and Finn as black male lead). If you missed that whole episode, there was a lot of googleable internet discussion and at least one MetaFilter thread about it, and I'd go find that stuff rather than just nuh-uhing the idea that that negative reaction was loud and notable.
posted by cortex at 9:29 PM on April 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


I finally got around to watching Star Wars on Friday and I was blown away by what a good job JJ Abrams did of remaking the original only making it way better by centering it on women and people of color (and making all the fun battles and sword fights be even longer, more battley, and more sword fighty). The new Star Wars seems as good a symbol as any that, despite still massive levels of sexism and racism in the world, we are finally shifting culturally.

(But if Finn and Poe don't get married at the end of the second movie then there is no justice in the Galaxy)
posted by latkes at 9:33 PM on April 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't think there was any way the new shiny JJ Abrams Star Wars movie was going to not make a bajillion dollars. If it had been a non-Star Wars movie with a similar plot and female lead (obviously with some of the WE ARE STAR WARS holes filled in with original material), I wonder how it would have done. It seems female-driven films are doing better these days. (Also, though, note how Rey is the lead but flanked by two dudes, because I think Hollywood is still not totally ready for two women working closely together on a team leading a major movie. More Rey and Leia would have been nice, also non-white women.)

The marketing thing was super depressing. I hope people learn, because as cynical as one might be about the endless stream of extruded Star Wars product (hello, Spaceballs the Toilet Paper), it's still really shitty to watch a movie with a great female character and and realize that you weren't really meant to love her, in one way or another, that you're still kind of a pariah in a world where men decide what is fun.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:34 PM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


"there was a lot of googleable internet discussion and at least one MetaFilter thread about it, and I'd go find that stuff rather than just nuh-uhing the idea that that negative reaction was loud and notable."

I'm not denying that the negative reaction was loud and notable. I'm saying that they were obviously in the minority since a ton of people ended up watching and liking the movie the way it is. And we also had an FPP about how the marketing people somehow didn't realize that people would love to have toys of the main hero of the movie.

Also, I don't think the movie was guaranteed to make a bajillion movies because if the movie resembled the prequels in any way then the earnings would've dropped off heavily after the first weekend. I mean, holy crap, the prequels were bad. Actually, let's just pretend that the prequels never happened.
posted by I-baLL at 9:38 PM on April 17, 2016


I'm not denying that the negative reaction was loud and notable. I'm saying that they were obviously in the minority since a ton of people ended up watching and liking the movie the way it is.

That's an 'obvious' conclusion that isn't really all that related to facts. Nerdbros love nothing more than criticizing the hell out of something they've watched three dozen times.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:41 PM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Additional dude-shit has been lost since the first trailer for Rogue One, also with a very visible female in the apparent lead. So the trope of Star Wars being a "guy thing" is, if maybe not dead, currently being admitted to the Intensive WhoCares Ward. Now Star Trek, with the revival of the Kirk/Spock 'bro-mance' in the new movies, is still solidly BoyZoned. And that was J.J. Abrams' big job before the 'New' Wars. Meanwhile, Joss Whedon, who made his rep from the Strong Female Hero of Buffy, seemed to lose his way once he entered the Marvel Movie Universe while an impressively large share of people with opinions thought Wonder Woman was the only saving grace for the BvS movie (and getting far more action figure action with a fraction of the screen time of Marvel's Black Widow, Gamora and/or anybody not a dude named Chris).

The Popcorn Movie Biz is getting more complicated... and that's the way I like it. Let James Bond be James Bond, but how about an action flick where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays second fiddle to Melissa McCarthy (to refer back to another recent thread)?

Now the most impressive 'genre-breaking' for Lifetime's "Unreal" is (to me) its premise of making fun of a 'reality dating show', something that is considered a major programming component of other 'female-oriented' channels.

Also worthy of note: Lifetime & its 'parent' A&E are 50% owned by Disney (the other 50% by Hearst, that old school newspaper chain founded by the real-life Citizen Kane, among its other 'media holdings')
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:14 PM on April 17, 2016


Let James Bond be James Bond

Hey, even Bond was becoming a hollow husk of tired machismo, upstaged by Judi Dench's M and betrayed by the woman he loved, and splashing around shirtless in the water, subject to the female gaze, for a little while...
posted by stoneandstar at 11:02 PM on April 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also, yeah, I mean the prequels were BAD bad, not like "oh I don't like that the main character is a girl" bad. JJ Abrams knows a little bit about making a blockbuster and/or reboot.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:03 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


The one thing I hope that The Force Awakens brings to a head is the fervent accusation that every likable female action hero who wasn't sexually abused in some way is a Mary Sue...
posted by stoneandstar at 11:08 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Lots of folks will gloriously pan Sharknado while also being down to watch (and down to talk about wanting to watch, or having watched, or...) in a way that's not really in the cards for the domestic melodrama of the week, even if the writing and production values are about the same.

I'm pretty sure plenty of people do this for Lifetime movies - unless that's only in my household? - but it's not exactly the same demographic.
posted by atoxyl at 2:13 AM on April 18, 2016


And yeah Unreal is a pretty good show I didn't actually realize what network it was from.
posted by atoxyl at 2:13 AM on April 18, 2016


I didn't know "Unreal" existed until this moment; could be interesting.

But the rest of the programming looks like a lot of reality shows like "Dance Moms" or "Little Women NY", which I honestly can't distinguish from what's on TLC. And this particular kind of "let's gawk at people's weird lives" reality show in general gives me hives.

I need to state, though - I do not dismiss these shows because of any kind of gender focus, because I don't ascribe any gender to them in the first place. Lots of other networks have their own "let's gawk at the weird" shows and I don't watch them either.

I also sometimes feel like there is a subtle pressure to ascribe a gender motivator to criticism, especially on the personal level, where there is none; and there is sometimes a subtle social pressure to support women-run things or women-created things simply because women made them. While I absolutely support women's access to creating art and film and television, and encourage more women entering the profession, that is an entirely separate question from the personal, individual choices I make for entertainment. And honestly, the fact that I think "Little Women LA" to be exploitative does not make me a bad woman. That's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:59 AM on April 18, 2016


Hmm...somewhere along the line, this MeFi viewing channel switched from Lifetime to Star Wars. Sigh.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:46 AM on April 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


No one is a bad woman or bad feminist for not watching Lifetime.

Still, it's worth exploring how a sexist society unconciously influences all of our hierachy of tastes.
posted by latkes at 6:18 AM on April 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


a lot of their offerings are formulaic

Yeah the movies are formulaic enough (and they've been making so many of them for decades) that they can literally do an entire weekend's worth of 'mothers ignore their intuition about their daughter's new friends (male or female) and then they have to fight off a murder' or 'woman is stalked (by a man or woman) and must fight off a murder' or 'woman discovers husband is a dirty cheater and works to rebuild her life'. There are soooo many that just follow a formula, which isn't really my type of programming. I'll watch it if I'm hanging out with my girlfriends (definitely not guys, they would never watch this) and there's nothing else on so we can laugh at it but its not really something I'll watch on my own. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't even ever watch Lifetime anymore, we would watch the Lifetime Movie Network instead, because the main network shows mostly reality shows (which seems to be the case for alot of major networks these days).

They also tend to do movies about the popular stories of the day, like the Casey Anthony movie, which I do find in bad taste, but that's my opinion and no one is forcing me to watch it (except maybe my best friend).

I'm glad to hear that they are upping the quality because more quality TV is good for everyone and quality TV about women is progress.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:39 AM on April 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


This thread just reminded me that it's been a while since I watched the masterpiece that is Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 7:00 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Still, it's worth exploring how a sexist society unconsciously influences all of our hierarchy of tastes.

This may be at the root of my pushback, because I don't believe that the societal influence on my taste in entertainment is as strong as some would claim. It's something I think about, sure, but I always come up against the feeling that I'm trying to like something because of the gender of the creator, which feels counter to how I would want to be treated as an artist myself (I don't want people to support my work because I'm a woman, I want my work to be considered on its own merits).

But that's just me, and that is a whole different discussion and I yield. I do, however, agree that the stereotypical "chick flicks" get dismissed with a bit more energy than stereotypically "guy flicks" do; and I agree that that is unfair. I fight that by dismissing the "guy genre" flicks with equal, if not more, scorn. (Usually, too, they just are empirically dumber, as well.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:09 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


P.S. - I also freely acknowledge that I'm just a big ol' snob, and have been since the age of nine when I scoffed at an episode of "Battlestar Galactica" because "real people don't talk like that".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 AM on April 18, 2016


If you aren't watching shows that you don't like and they happen to be on Lifetime, that's one thing (though of course there is the effect that culture has on taste, and our sexist culture in particular). If you are refusing to consider a show at all simply because it is on Lifetime (a huge hump in recommending Unreal to friends), then that's a very different (sexist) story.
posted by jeather at 7:25 AM on April 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's also the possibility that I didn't know of the existence of the show "unreal" until this thread.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:30 AM on April 18, 2016


My friends and I used to look for the most ridiculous movie titles. For ten years, "Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?" held the record. It was only broken in 2014 with "Deadly Day Care."
posted by Melismata at 7:48 AM on April 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's entirely possible that the Metafilter demographic is not the Lifetime demographic but that there is still a relatively large viewership that prefers even their soapy*/schlocky fare (or one-eye-on-the-TV or background-noise content) mostly filled with women's voices and faces, and content where even the more difficult content (sexual violence, domestic violence, menace of multiple varieties, hardship, loss) is not shot for the male gaze.

*There was a time, younger TV consumers, when "women's programming" was on the three TV networks from about 11a-2p every weekday, and that content is almost all gone now. In the 80s, when VCRs happened, working women could start watching their stories again, timeshifted - which they did at night while they did housework, packed lunches, and wound down before bed. It was cheesy, the drama was so overblown that it did not (mostly) trigger real-world drama, the fashion was wild, the dudes were smokin' (sometimes literally), and it was something you could bond with other women over. There's probably already dissertations on the purpose this kind of content serves for women, but there's a lot of room to talk about that.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:52 AM on April 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm not talking to you personally, EmpressCallipygos.
posted by jeather at 8:07 AM on April 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


It also could be very well that to many people lifetime is still to them the network that just produced goofy ass made for tv movies that sometimes they watched in high school when a teacher was out. It was a solidly forged image so getting people to believe that they now produce quality programming could be an uphill battle.
posted by Ferreous at 8:53 AM on April 18, 2016


I especially loved this paragraph from the article:

Unreal combines provocative feminist meta-critique and high melodrama, creating a mise-en-abyme hyperreality that takes the motivations of two categories of women equally seriously: the show’s producers and its contestants. A less intelligent show might have reduced Everlasting’s contestants to slutty, shameless bimbos and its producers to haggard, sexless nerds, but Unreal’s complexity falsifies such a binary. Unreal argues, in the multiplicity of its characters, that there’s no feminist value to be found in decrying “that kind of girl.”


As mentioned in the article, Unreal is often overlooked because of the channel it's on, but it's also hard to imagine another channel allowing the creators such freedom to develop both female producers and female contestants with as much nuance.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:53 AM on April 18, 2016


I'm waist deep in Unreal, and it's a fabulous show and I recommend it for anyone looking for something that is deeper than most TV fare.
posted by hippybear at 9:12 AM on April 18, 2016


I'm kinda realizing I'm taking some of this personally, and I apologize; I'll watch myself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wow. Unreal is full of actual human moments. "Why didn't you call, Rachel?" "Because depressed people don't call..."
posted by hippybear at 9:17 AM on April 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just remember that for years they were the only place you could watch Homicide: Life On The Street.

(This was in prehistoric times, kids)
posted by jonmc at 12:02 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I kind of like the direction Lifetime has gone in, but every time I find out about a Lifetime movie I'd want to watch they find a way to ruin it. The Anna Nicole Smith movie could have been great (Mary Harron! Agnes Brucker!) but due to budget problems the script really laid pipe on the outside. The casting of the June Carter Cash biopic bummed me out, and I love the director for that one. The tone of the Lizzie Borden movie was off somehow. I'm not expecting Great Cinema, but they fail at things that should be in their wheelhouse.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:13 PM on April 18, 2016


True equality is when women are allowed to make mediocre crap just like men are, not when Kathryn Bigelow wins an Oscar.
posted by Etrigan at 1:28 PM on April 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


Thanks to sciatrix for roping me and jeather into Unreal. It really is amazing what it consciously displays and talks about. Here's to hoping it allows more aware TV shows, both bad and good.
posted by halifix at 1:32 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you'd read the article, you would see that they're making a vampire movie right now!
Please tell me the title is "Not Without My Platelets."
posted by rhizome at 1:56 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Um, clarification: jeather roped me and sciatrix. Sorry!
posted by halifix at 2:15 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, aside from some of its more soap opera plotting, Unreal really felt like television designed for grown-ups. I think the series defined itself in its opening episode when it is asked "how do I have a series when I don't have a villain?"

Thanks for recommending this to me. I am glad to have watched it.
posted by hippybear at 1:19 AM on April 19, 2016


and content where even the more difficult content (sexual violence, domestic violence, menace of multiple varieties, hardship, loss) is not shot for the male gaze.

*mind blown* godDAMN, I love Metafilter. I learn something new every day.
posted by Melismata at 7:44 AM on April 19, 2016


omg CONSTANCE ZIMMER is in Unreal?

Just starting the first episode now.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:16 PM on April 19, 2016


UnREAL is every bit as good as everyone says, although I'd say Rachel is more like Don Draper than Walter White, if Don was morally conflicted about advertising.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:34 PM on April 19, 2016


Coming Soon on Lifetime
"an autobiographical scripted series with Selena Gomez", "movies with Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey", "the U.K. comedy “Catastrophe”", "a supernatural drama “Sea Change,” based on the young adult novel by Aimee Friedman", "“A Midsummer’s Nightmare,” an adaptation of Shakespeare plays turned into contemporary horror mysteries", and "under the “Fempire” brand, billed as “entertaining and engaging the next generation of feminists”... “The Faith Diaries,” the spinoff from the cabler’s hot drama series ”Unreal.”"

It looked good until "A Midsummer’s Nightmare".
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:21 PM on April 20, 2016


"It looked good until "A Midsummer’s Nightmare"."

I don't know. That one actually sounds intriguing.
posted by I-baLL at 10:32 PM on April 20, 2016


It could be a plane crash, or a job loss kitchen-sink'er, or a stalker, or everybody's favorite: stranger danger.
posted by rhizome at 11:19 PM on April 20, 2016


“The Faith Diaries,” the spinoff from the cabler’s hot drama series ”Unreal.”"

This could be a very interesting show depending on the creative team and how it is handled. Faith was one of the more interesting contestants on Unreal Season 1, and I thought her storyline was well written whether as a background, major, and second tier character, something which she was afforded across the run of episodes. There was a lot of bravery in that character, both as a person in the story and as a character on television. This is something I could, maybe, look forward to.

I basically look forward enthusiastically to nothing after The Phantom Menace.
posted by hippybear at 2:03 AM on April 21, 2016


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