Proof that Women Have Taken Over TV

Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 19 2012 11:22 AM

The End of Men, TV Titles Edition

remington
Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele, from a bygone era when men dominated primetime

© 1984 Gene Trindl

Hanna Rosin’s new book The End of Men: And the Rise of Women catalogs female gains in education, work, and at home. But Rosin somehow overlooked another front in women’s march to gender dominance: TV show titles.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

In the fall of 1982, the prime-time TV lineup featured 20 titles that referenced men or male characters. NBC’s Friday night lineup alone offered a three-fer: The Powers of Matthew Star, Knight Rider, and Remington Steele. Meanwhile, female characters were mentioned in just five titles, while six others name-checked both men and women. Three decades later, as we head into the 2012-13 TV season, the balance has changed completely: 14 titles reference women, eight men, and five both genders.*

Advertisement

Are TV programmers girlying up their show names to attract female viewers? If so, I doubt it will work. As Susan Burton noted when a movie based on her autobiographical story turned young Susan into a boy: “girls will go see movies about boys, but boys will not go see movies about girls.” I doubt that adult TV viewers are very different from young filmgoers.

No, it’s clearly another sign of the dude-ocalypse.

120919_BB_TVTitles-Gendered_4

Note: Since Tucker’s Witch references both Rick Tucker and his wife, Amanda, it has been placed in the both-gender column. When it was later re-broadcast on USA, the show was renamed The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon, which would’ve put it in the women’s list. Your sexism came back to bite you, 1982!

Sources: For 1982, Wikipedia. For 2012, Page 42 of the Sept. 17-23 TV Guide.

Correction, Sept. 19, 2012: The chart and its accompanying text originally located How I Met Your Mother in the female column. Since the “I” of the title is a man, the show belongs in the mixed-gender list. The Simpsons was also originally missing from that column.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.