5 Things I love About HBO’s The Gilded Age (And one thing I’m on the fence about…)
I binge-watched HBO’s The Gilded Age (created by Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame) over the past couple weeks, and I have thoughts: I LOVED IT!
It’s been a couple of months since my last update, mostly because I have little to report. I finished draft three in early July and decided to make some structural changes to the story. This means that draft four won’t be the polishing draft I’d hoped it would be, which in turn means I’ll have to bump my release back to fall or winter. HOWEVER, I am okay with that. I would rather delay my release than put out a story I’m not completely happy with. So, I’ll be updating the website soon to reflect my new launch plans.
In other news, this morning I saw the big announcement about the all-female cast of Ocean’s Eight–a film I had not previously realized was being made. Much as I did when the all-female Ghostbusters was announced, I groaned–heavily. No, no–I can assure you that I am not anti-women. Quite the opposite, in fact. My ire toward these movies is because I think they hide a much bigger problem than the lack of quality female roles in Hollywood. Women go ape shit for these movies because we’re so excited to see franchises we love being populated by women instead of men. In all the excitement, though, we forget to wonder why Hollywood can’t seem to come up with more original movies with female-led casts. When it comes to movies about women “being women”–Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Bridesmaids, for example–Hollywood seems to do pretty well. But when it comes to movies about women doing traditionally “male things,” like being paranormal investigators or con artists, Hollywood’s solution is to simply paste women into roles written for men rather than take the time to create something original. This is problematic for several reasons:
#1 – It suggests that Hollywood can’t imagine women doing “traditionally male things” without a male template. What is a female paranormal investigator like? Who knows? What are women? Let’s just plug a woman into the role of Egon Spengler, change the name, and call it good!
#2 – It suggests that a female-led movie, about women doing “traditionally male things,” wouldn’t be viable unless it’s attached to a pre-existing male-led franchise. Why can’t we just have a movie about female supernatural investigators? Why do they have to be called “Ghostbusters” in order to get people to the theater? Why can’t we just have a movie about female con artists? Why do they have to be “Ocean’s eight” in order to draw an audience?
#3 – It’s half-assed. And worse, it’s half-assed pacification. It’s a super easy way for Hollywood to say, “Look! Here’s a movie with a female-led cast! And it’s not about romance or menopause!” It requires less effort to plug women into an existing template than it does to think up an entirely new template.
#4 – It suggests that women should be okay with male hand-me-downs–that we shouldn’t expect anything beyond being plugged into roles that were already defined by men. It’s like Hollywood doesn’t think we’re good enough to helm original material–but recycled material is apparently just fine.
So, just as I did not see 2016’s Ghostbusters (because I thought it looked half-assed and stupid) I will probably not see Ocean’s Eight. I’m going to hold out for the movies starring a mainly female cast, that aren’t recycled male-cast movies, aren’t centered around “women’s issues,” and don’t rely on female tropes or caricatures to draw an audience. Television has already accomplished this a couple of times with Orphan Black and Orange is the New Black, not to mention the varied roles for women in shows like Game of Thrones, The 100, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., just to name a few. So, it’s possible. Hollywood just has to make an actual effort to get there.