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Reese Witherspoon Archives – FutureFemme

The verdict’s in: Netflix’s new satirical comedy 'Insatiable' is pure trash. Here are ten of the best female-fronted shows to stream instead.

All the best #GirlPower shows to watch instead of ‘Insatiable’

By News

The verdict’s in: Netflix’s new satirical comedy Insatiable is a disastrophe. And not the good kind you can sit and enjoy with a bottle of wine and absolutely no shame. The kind that misfires in its attempt to be edgy while lacking the sharpness and wit to nail the delivery of its controversial subject matter.

The show itself follows a “fat girl” (a thin girl in a fat suit) named Patty (Debby Ryan) who gets punched in the face, has her jaw wired shut, loses weight (and subsequently becomes “hot”), and seeks revenge on those who bullied her.

Although the premise is problematic in itself, we were quick to challenge the naysayers who denounced the show before they’d even seen in. However, having seen the first few episodes ourselves now, we can confirm Insatiable contains none of the sharpness it needed to deliver such a satirical statement on body image.

The show is at once aggressively cruel and a total yawnfest, and contains some tired queer tropes via its depiction of Patty’s closeted lesbian bestie Nonnie (Kimmy Shields) to boot. So while everyone expected Insatiable to be bad, the reality is even worse.

Instead of wasting your time on this trash heap of a “comedy” (which drops on Netflix today), turn your focus to better content with these stunning examples of #GirlPower. Here are ten of the best female-fronted shows to stream instead of Insatiable:  

GLOW (2017-)

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling body-slammed its way into our hearts when it first hit Netflix in 2017, and continued to do so into S2 with a solid core cast, nostalgic 80s setting, heartfelt portrayals of female friendship, and oodles of spandex.

A diverse cast including Alison Brie, Sydelle Noel, Sunita Mani, Britt Baron, Kate Nash, Gayle Rankin, Kia Stevens, Ellen Wong, Jackie Tohn, and Britney Young star as the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling as they grapple with life both in and out of the ring, managing to remain both frothy and fun while exposing societal prejudices that are still prevalent today.

Broad City (2014-)

Yas queen! While it’s bittersweet to know that Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson’s next season will be their last, marking the end of an era, we can at least remind ourselves of the hilarious times the comedy duo have brought to us over the years (from seafood allergies to Val’s diamond-munching antics – no mo FOMO).

For four tumultuous seasons (soon to be five), Abbi and Ilana have kept our sides splitting with their portrayal of two broke girls living in NYC, while teaching us the true value of female friendship. It’s thanks to this show that we can’t leave the house without a Bingo Bronson at our side and a backup vape in our rucksacks.

Killing Eve (2018-)

A dazzling thriller from Phoebe Waller-Bridge – the creative mind behind Fleabag – Killing Eve stars Sandra Oh as a woman whose job as a bored low-level MI5 security employee takes an exciting turn when she links a string of murders to the capricious and dangerous assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer).

As Eve embarks on the task to seek out her culprit, the two end up obsessed with each other and enter into a risky game of cat & mouse. The genre-bending miniseries is at once slick, gripping, and wildly entertaining, bringing fresh energy to a worn out genre.

Good Girls (2018-)

Jenna Bans’s dramedy is getting a second season and we’re here for it every step of the way. Centering on three suburban moms (with glorious turns from Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman) who find themselves in desperate circumstances, the tired trio have had enough of playing it safe and swap wholesome housewife values for a life of crime, chaos, and dollar bills by robbing the local supermarket at (toy) gunpoint. Some girls are good, some girls are bad, and some are just doing what they can to get by.

Veronica Mars (2004-2007)

A show that was cut from the air and from our lives too soon, the neo-noir YA crime thriller saw Kristen Bell long before her Good Place days, as a snarky high school student turned private investigator who dedicates her life to cracking the toughest mysteries in the affluent town of Neptune, including the murder of her best friend Lily.

Using her smarts and determination to unturn a number of stones (while dealing with sexual trauma of her own), Veronica is the ultimate example of girl power, proving you don’t have to show physical strength to be powerful.

Riverdale (2016-)

The CW’s dark, edgy, and sexy take on the Archie comic books has proved highly addictive, set in the once-idyllic small town that becomes a hotbed of controversies and secrets with the death of Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines).

From Betty (Lili Reinhart), to Veronica (Camila Mendes), to Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), Riverdale features a host of female characters who show strength and are fierce in their own special ways.

Daria (1997-2001)

The TV show equivalent of your 00s teen angst, Daria was more than just a cartoon – it was a way of life.

Fuelled by misanthropy and cutting wit, Daria was and still is the perfect example of sardonic apathy, following the titular character through teenage life as a proud outsider in a world of mainly idiotic adolescents and condescending adults. Together with her bestie Jane, the pair take on the world in Creepers and grunge boots, one snarky quip at a time.

Big Little Lies (2017-)

Arguably one of the best crime dramas of last year, HBO’s Big Little Lies stars Hollywood heavyweights Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley as suburban moms who exist in a community fueled by rumors and divided into haves and have-nots.

As their seemingly perfect lives unravel, dark secrets bubble to the surface and we begin to see that life is not as it seems in the tranquil beachfront town of Monterey. Not only does the show offer a gripping storyline and three-dimensional characters whose arcs you can’t help but be enthralled by, but the show also tackles the tricky subject of domestic abuse in a complex and nuanced manner. With season two on the way, we’d recommend giving season one a watch or rewatch ahead of its release.

Vida (2018-)

Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera star in Tanya Saracho’s latest comedy as Emma and Lyn – two estranged sisters who return to their old LA neighborhood where they are confronted by the past and the truth about their mother’s identity.

In its first season, the show has been praised for its portrayal of Latinx culture, LGBTQI relationships, and gentrification – with another season on the horizon, we’re excited to see what hot topics Saracho and the creative team will take on.

Pose (2018-)

Ryan Murphy’s portrayal of 80s NYC ball culture is dazzling, authentic, and deals with its challenging topics with tact and finesse. A landmark show in terms of LGBTQI representation, Pose explores the fetishization of trans women and the details of gender reassignment surgery in ways that have not been seen on TV before.

As well as lifting the curtain on the bold ball subculture and the issues the trans community faced both inside and out of the scene, Pose also feels like a family drama thanks to the relationships formed by the sweet yet powerful Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), who builds lives and shows love by making a home for Angel (Indya Moore) and Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain). In short, Pose demands to be seen – it’s one of the greatest shows on TV and we’re giving it tens across the board.

This weekend marked the end of the 2018 ATX Festival. With the year that Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large has had, it’s no surprise talks turned to the discussion of women in the workplace.

Why Hollywood’s diversity problem starts in the writers’ room

By News

This weekend marked the end of the 2018 ATX Festival, the annual event that celebrates and showcases the past, present, and future of the television industry. With the year the entertainment industry’s had, it’s no surprise talks turned to the discussion of women in the workplace. Utilizing this period of introspection that follows the sexual harassment scandal regarding disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other industry figures, the power dynamics inside the writers’ room was a resounding theme on Saturday during a panel discussion.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Liz Tigelaar (Little Fires Everywhere), Christopher C. Rogers (Halt and Catch Fire), Shawn Ryan (Timeless), Rina Mimoun (Everwood), and Patrick Sean Smith (Greek), as well as moderator Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) discussed the challenges of finding experienced female writers and giving “difficult” industry women second chances. Opening up about their experiences with diversity issues in the writers’ rooms, the TV showrunners also explained how things are starting to change.

Tigelaar – who is currently working on her upcoming Hulu adaptation Little Fires Everywhere starring Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies) and Kerry Washington (Django Unchained) – said she is looking for diverse voices across the board as she’s staffing the room. “And not in a token way, like I checked a box — but in a deeply substantial way. I’m not just talking about staff writers but co-EPs and others shaping the show.” For example, since the story is largely about motherhood, she’s aiming to have moms, dads, and people who don’t want kids contributing to the script. “I want to round it out in a full way.” This was just one of many examples discussed on Saturday about how the writing rooms are shifting and moving towards inclusivity in every sense of the word. However, this was not always the case.

Frat house environment

ATX Festival

During the 80s and 90s, American production houses attempted to recognize their issue of sexism in the workplace by hiring more female staff, but this led to a new issue – the token woman. As screenwriter and author Debbie Moon declared when discussing an open letter from female screenwriters calling on TV to change, “Female screenwriters have been aware of this for a long time. We all have our war stories. The exec who said ‘We already have a show written by a woman,’ or the commissioner who felt that a female lead wouldn’t appeal to a wide audience. The times we’ve been the only woman in the writing team, routinely talked over and ignored.”

A similar story was discussed by Mimoun at ATX Festival, who recounted a time when she became the token woman on a comedy years ago after the showrunner was forced to hire a female writer by the studio. “It was constant hazing. Naked pictures being drawn of me . . . one rape joke after another.” Luckily there was one showrunner – Greg Berlanti – who fought hard to hand her Everwood when he was ready to move on. “At the time, he (Warner Bros. TV executive Peter Roth) was like, ‘Hell, no,’ but Greg stood up for me and said, ‘Well, she’s doing it.’”

Likewise, Orange Is the New Black’s Jenji Kohan opened up last year about her experiences of sexism in the workplace, suffered when she was a struggling TV writer. In an interview with The New Yorker, Kohan discussed how sexist an environment it was in the writing rooms and how difficult it was as a woman and a new mother. Working in the 90s on shows like Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Sex and the City, Kohan said she experienced years of stunted ambition and Hollywood sexism.

“She had her ‘tit grabbed’; her name was taken off a script. Once, when she was pregnant and about to have a job interview, her agent advised her to wear a big shirt and eat candy, so that the showrunner would think she was just fat. After a pitch meeting for The Larry Sanders Show, her agent told her that the show’s star, Garry Shandling, wasn’t comfortable working with women. ‘I was fired from everything,’ Kohan said.”

These stories mirror the experiences of most female writers – as Moon said, “We all have our war stories.” For UnREAL showrunner Stacy Rukeyser, she described the malecentric writing rooms as resembling a “frat house” and discussed the uncomfortable experience of her two-year job on One Tree Hill when she once had to beg the showrunner not to install a hot tub outside the writers’ room. In her guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Rukeyser explained, “Showrunner Mark Schwahn created, from the top down, a writers’ room that I described at the time, perhaps naively, as a frat house — and that I now see as a misogynistic quagmire.”

Why diversity is important

Lyle Friedman

Over to the big screen, and a recent study highlighted why diversity in the writing rooms is key to recognition on screen. This thesis was tested by 2016 research from TV writer Lyle Friedman, data scientist Matt Daniels, and researcher Ilia Blinderman, who examined four thousand films reviewed on the website that lists movies that do or don’t pass the Bechdel test. For a movie to pass, it must include two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

The team gathered the results from films between 1995 to 2015 from the site, then broke it down in terms of the gender of the writers, producers, and directors on each film. “Their study found that movies in which women were involved in the production were far more likely to pass the Bechdel test,” noted Forbes. “When writing teams are entirely male, about fifty percent of films fail the Bechdel test, the study shows. Add a woman to the team and only a third of films fail. The seven films written entirely by women in their data set all pass the Bechdel test.”

Daniels went on to muse that this might not necessarily relate to overt sexism, but that “these people were just writing about themselves.” This issue translates with regards to how women are represented on screen and how their stories are told. Perhaps no one has made this quite so crystal clear as indie producer Ross Putman, who launched the Twitter account @femscriptintros in 2016 to share some of the most offensive introductions for female characters that he has read in movie scripts over the years. Entries include, “JANE pours her gorgeous figure into a tight dress, slips into her stiletto-heeled fuck-me shoes, and checks herself in the dresser mirror,” and, “JANE, 28, athletic but sexy. A natural beauty. Most days she wears jeans, and she makes them look good.” Clearly if we want female characters with more depth than having the ability to make jeans look good, changes need to be made in the writing room.

A different picture

Liz Tigelaar

Recent years have shown this frat house culture starting to change and this is only set to shift even further as the entertainment industry wakes up to its diversity issue in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal. And it’s not just women who are fighting for these changes – at ATX, when asked how a showrunner can put his or her writers in a position to succeed, Ryan noted the importance of leading by example. “If, in the first day of work, you’re making crude jokes about women sexually or you’re making ethnic jokes, people are going to think that’s how the show is going to run.” Avoiding these jokes is crucial, but so is taking on board a diverse staff. “That means diversity of gender and race, but also geographic diversity and diversity of thought.”

Tigelaar also spoke up and was honest about how she had previously overlooked the importance of diversity. For example, when she was hiring writers for Life Unexpected, she recalls centering on the scripts of those she liked in meetings and the writers who were going to complement each other. “When I thought I was being thoughtful, I was being thoughtless,” she acknowledged. “Now, obviously, I’m thinking about it in a much deeper way.” While there’s still some way to go with regards to gender parity in the writing room, the fact that writers – both male and female – are experiencing introspection and taking action to make changes behind the scenes shows that a shift is occurring and showrunners are moving outside of the traditional system to fill the writers’ room with talent from all walks of life. Not just the “single, white male” slot.