Sunday, January 7, 2007

Note to NBC: Be Nice to "Women"

NBC is mistreating its female characters (a subject I know something about). Last week’s viewing brought sad examples of killing women characters and laughing at them—a strange perversion of the classic tragedy/comedy motif.

The series Medium gives us some of the most relentlessly ugly, graphic (fictional) scenes of women being harmed on a weekly basis. Last week’s episode—“Mother’s Little Helper”—brought us a woman being shot point blank while her daughter was listening terrified behind a locked door. When she finally breaks through, she too is shot, point blank.

What made this comparatively straightforward killing (remember the psychotic doctor/gynecologist who raped and murdered?) more disturbing is the amount of time the camera spent on the victims, with no quick cutting away. And that this scene was shown repeatedly throughout the episode in the series’s convention of the dreams of Allison and Ariel, which reveal slowly.

Then on Las Vegas, we had a oenocentric episode, with a subplot that a retiree convention brought grandmothers who wanted to hang out in the topless pool. One grandma in particular had huge, 80-year-old breasts, and the whacky hotel gang had to figure out how to get her covered up because the other guests were complaining of the unsightliness. HA HA HA HA HA. Breasts—always great subject for comedy.

I watch TV for different reasons at different times. The reason I tune-in to network weekly series is for an entertaining-in-its-way way to wind-down from the day. And I’m a sucker for storytelling and look for it daily. What a disappointment when those simple goals are tanked by such mean-spirited treatment of female images. It’s not just NBC, of course-- CBS’s Criminal Minds has had some revolting situations for women, and this dark trend hasn’t gone unnoticed. I should stop watching these series, if I don’t like them, and probably will. But I will still be sorry to know that these images go on and on on other sets.