In case you haven’t noticed, things are going relatively well in the feminist-TV realm. No longer are we forced to call a show “feminist” just because it has a lady crimesolver at its center! Nor because there is a lady who is funny in it, or even because there is a lady who runs the whole damn show! Here’s to hoping “peak vagina,” as one disgruntled male producer called the trend, lasts forever. Because, really, we’re more like at normal vagina, which is to say, close to 50 percent. Huge progress, yes, but also known as closer to equality.
Now. Onto our favorite shows for this fall (so far), new and old:
The Good Wife: This show is so damn good, isn’t it?
Homeland: This homeland-security drama is poised for a breakout season on the Downton Abbey level. It stars Claire Danes as, essentially, Kiefer Sutherland in 24. Yep, that’s pretty much all you need to know.
The Mindy Project: You knew this would be here. Creator/star Mindy Kaling, formerly Kelly of The Office, is a revelation here as an OB/GYN who’s got her career act together but is still working on her personal life. She combines killing it at work while still being super-girly (her character worships romantic comedies) while still making fun of all of the above (she knows romantic comedies are silly, but still). Yeah, hers is the latest in a string of female-driven comedies being compared to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The fact that hers is created by and starring a woman of color shows we’ve made at least a little progress since the ’70s.
Suburgatory: This ABC sitcom snuck up on us last season, and we’re totally hooked now. The main reason: The sparkly Jane Levy as sardonic Manhattan-to-suburbs transplant Tessa Altman. Other reasons: Cheryl Hines as a sweet mother figure in the body of a Real Housewife, Jeremy Sisto (lightening up, finally!) as Tessa’s dad George, and our girl-crush Alicia Silverstone as George’s crunchy girlfriend. We love how Tessa is an alterna-girl who isn’t really an outcast, but isn’t all that interested in popularity, either. She just is, which makes her one of the best teen heroines we’ve seen in a long time.
Up All Night/Guys With Kids: Something old and something new in the men-as-participatory-fathers comedy genre. (Please, let this become a genre!) Neither of these approaches the transcendence of Louie, which also happens to be about a dude who cares about being a dad, but as the next level down, and the next level down (respectively), they are solid. If you’re going to watch one of these, choose NBC’s Up All Night, which is hilarious whether or not you have kids, thanks to the brilliance of the writing and the cast — Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph. Arnett’s stay-at-home dad stays at home like it’s a totally normal thing to do, though also deals with the adjustments that go along with being the primary child-rearer. Guys With Kids, a new NBC comedy combines the idea of men who are fathers with the buddy-comedy genre and comes from producer Jimmy Fallon. It’s a down-the-middle sitcom in the tradition of ABC Family and TV Land, which is in the tradition of retro ’80s hits, but it’s cute. And it makes kids the center of the three main bro characters’ lives, which is both realistic and progressive.