The Bechdel-Wallace Test: 2015 TV Edition

When we last checked in on how the ol’ TV box is stacking up with regards to the Bechdel-Wallace* Test, it was 2013. Best Friends Forever and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt 23 had been tragically cancelled, but New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, and just plain Girls were all going strong.

To review, the “Bechdel-Wallace Test” was featured in Alison Bechdel’s 1985 comic strip, The Rule, in which Bechdel includes a handy tool for measuring the significance of female characters in movies. You’d think that passing said test would be easy! The movie “passes” if it…

(1) Contains at least two women

(2) who speak to each other

(3) about something other than a man.

As you’ve probably noticed, women in real life talk about lots of things, but on-screen women seem to have much less to say.  Let’s see how some of our favorite 2015 TV shows are measuring up.

 True Detective: Season Two / HBO

Porn?!

The first season of True Detective failed the Bechdel-Wallace Test so miserably I almost couldn’t believe it. Great show– but the characterization of women was weak, y’all. The only “women” on Season 1 of True Detective were Wives, Mistresses, Prostitutes, and Dead Prostitutes.

By way of a rather obvious apology, Season two offers us the character of Antigone “Ani” Bezzerides, portrayed by Rachel McAdam’s deeply furrowed brow. Ani is a lady cop with sick knife skills and a flagrant disregard of her workplace’s sexual conduct policy.

We’re treated to many scenes of Ani interacting with other humans, several of which were other women (ding ding ding!). Pictured above, Ani slut-shames her sister for her job as a webcam girl. Pass! (Barely)

Game of Thrones: Season Four / HBO

Brienne-and-Sansa

Much has been written about the depiction and treatment of women in HBO’S adaption of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Even more has been written by so-called “book snobs” who have boycotted the series rather than watch our beloved story lines butchered and maimed each Sunday night.

I could say a lot of things about the scene in this photo, like for example, how it doesn’t make any sense that Brienne of Tarth would do something so dangerous/idiotic as to declare her loyalty to a wanted criminal in a crowded inn, thereby blowing said wanted criminal’s cover even as she is offering her protection–or how Sansa Stark is for some reason engaging with her in this conversation (at full volume) like “Hey, you’re right, I AM Sansa Stark! Yes, of the Winterfell Starks. Yes, THE Sansa Stark, who is wanted for regicide! More beer, please, bar keep? The heir of Winterfell is in the house!”

I’m not here to discuss that. This conversation passes the Bechdel-Wallace Test. (But it does not pass the test of logic!) Pass. (of the Bechdel-Wallace Test.)

Orange is the New Black: Season 3 / Netflix

OitnB

Over at Netflix: Pass! So much pass! Orange is the New Black is like a master class in passing the Bechdel-Wallace test, and it’s still going strong in its third season.

Netflix gets extra credit for this show. Not only do its many female characters (!) talk to each other (!) about things other than men (!!), its plot is almost exclusively driven by dynamic, complicated female relationships. Netflix crushed it with this one, and THEN they proved that they don’t even have to keep women locked up to do it:

 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 1 / Netflix

Mole Women

Yes, even when the Mole Women were freed from the bunker, they continued to talk to each other, and other women, too. Oh, what I would give to time travel back to March, 2015 when I watched the entirety of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in a single Sunday. There are so many wonderful topics of conversation between the women of this show, such as:

  1. The Apocalypse (and how it was caused by our dumbness)
  2. Coping mechanisms for a stressful life in New York City (or underground, where you are being held against your will by Jon Ham)
  3. Rats in the air filter, what could it mean?

Jane The Virgin: Season one / The CW

Jane

Wow, this list is getting pretty long. That’s dope.

Jane the Virgin made me so happy, and not just because it allowed me look at Miami in the winter time. Jane’s innermost thoughts reminded me a little bit of My So-Called life (RIP), albeit this time they were conveyed by a telenovela style narrator. The inner lives of a women depicted on television?! Yes, please.

The heart of Jane the Virgin is the relationship between Jane and her glamorous mother, Xo. Jane and Xo frequently hash it out in this adorable drama-dy, passing the Bechdel-Wallace Test easily (and stylishly) every time. Pass. Extra points for social commentary! #immigrationreform

 Another Period: Season 1 / Comedy Central

AnotherPeriod

This list goes on! Imagine my delight when two of my favorite comediennes successfully combined two of my favorite TV genres: period pieces and reality TV. Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome (creators and co-executive producers) star as Lillian and Beatrice, two wealthy Rhode Island socialites, in this spoofy take on the “wealthy family” reality TV trope. They start strong with the pilot, which features a full-on, hair-pulling brawl with Helen Keller, fueled by “cocaine wine”. So yeah. PASS! 

Extra points for Cristina Hendricks as a “plain” servant girl. Hilarious.

 Difficult People: Season one / Hulu

Difficult People

As I have said here on the blog before, Julie Klausner is my Oprah. What I mean by that is that I begin a lot of sentences with “Well, Julie says [insert nugget of wisdom here].” I’ve read every book and watched every movie she ever mentioned on her podcast, How was Your Week, and now, this! Her very own show on Hulu, co-written by the very funny Billy Eichner and produced by none other than Amy Poehler!

The central relationship in the show is of course between Billy and Julie, but Julie’s mother Marilyn and Billy’s boss, Denise, supply plenty of the Bechdel-friendly funny, also. Pass, of course.

GIRLS: Season four / HBO

GIRLS

My favorite interaction on this season of HBO’s Girls was the one where Marnie was fishing for compliments on her truly god-awful music. “Well, you did it. You made a song.” #JessaBurn. PASS.

Broad City: Season 2 / Comedy Central 

BroadCity

Let’s end this thing on a high note: with these classy broads. What can be said about Abbi and Ilana that hasn’t already been said? Remember when this show came out and people were all like “Wow, Broad City AND Girls? That’s too many shows about girls, let’s just pick one.” Well, beauties, we all knew it was baloney, and just look who’s talking now! (Still us– and we’re talking about all kinds of shit.) PASS.

IN SUMMATION:

I’m loving this. It’s been a great year, guys! That’s basically all of the TV I’ve watched in 2015, and there’s plenty more out there that passes the test. Please share them in the comments. The next question we should be asking is: if it doesn’t pass the test, why is it on TV at all? Who’s watching it? If it’s us, let’s stop. Let’s not stand for it.

Next up: E tackles the silver screen. How are women’s words stacking up in film?

xo

-S

*Alison Bechdel would like all of us to start giving credit to her friend Liz Wallace, who laid out these rules in a conversation with Bechdel, prompting her to include them in her comic ‘Dykes to Watch Out For.’ We’re all about credit where it’s due, so Beauty Coup will henceforth refer to it as the Bechdel-Wallace test.

We Don’t Care If You Like It

You guys! Hi! It’s been SO LONG!

I’ve missed you, you little rabble rousers, but I’ve been on an extended hiatus because I had a baby. WHAT. I know, right? Bananas. It would be easy to fill several blog posts talking about the insane magical pain cave of wonderment that is childbirth, but that’s for another day and another blog. Some kind of mommy blog. Maybe I’ll do a guest post on one of those someday.

Here and now at BC the topic is of course, as ever, Feminist Funtimes! It isn’t Friday, but did I mention I had a baby? We’re getting our funtimes when and where we can, people.

There’s a lot to cover, and in light of that I’ll keep my commentary to a (relative) minimum.

Firstly, I propose we make this our anthem for 2015. You don’t have to buy the t-shirt, but it couldn’t hurt. For those of you sillies who’ve not read Bossypants, here’s the excerpt where our new anthem originated.

I don’t give a fuck if you like it. – Amy Poehler

It is with Amy’s brilliant mic drop moment in mind that I head into 2015, and I encourage you all to do the same. Whether it’s in your art, your attitude, your daily life, or all of the above, slough off your need to please. Let other people worry about what’s “marketable” or “proper.” You have better things to do. If it feels right, fulfills you, and sets fire to your insides, then do it.*

(*essential lawsuit-avoiding disclaimer: as long as you’re not physically or emotionally damaging those around you)

Now that we’re all duly inspired, here’s a mishmash of feministy delights I’ve curated from the world wide web:

What is this show Outlander and why have I never heard of it? Are you guys watching it? Is it as good and femtastic as it looks?

I’ve always liked Leighton Meester (she’s adorable, has a weird-ass name, and was easily the best part of Gossip Girl), and now I get to love her even more for her no-nonsense quip on calling oneself a feminist.

blair_powerfuk

New goal for 2015: write a screenplay focused on a group of sexy, accomplished women in their fifties, and no, Russell Crowe, I don’t give a fuck if you like it. I’m sorry I ever defended your “singing” in Les Miserables.

While we’re waiting for my sexy middle-aged lady movie to be written, produced, and released, we can watch this documentary! It’s from a while back, but still very relevant considering a dearth of progress regarding sexism in Tinseltown.

Lastly, and most importantly, a huge, rabble rousing THANK YOU to all of you, our darling readers. Our Beauty Coup data stats look better and better with each passing year, and we are ever so humbly grateful to all of you for your comments, questions, and support. In direct conflict with our 2015 mantra, we Do give a fuck if you like it, and it means ever so much to us that you keep coming back for more. Happy 2015!

XOXO,
E

There’s Room in this City for all my Girls

Hello Beauties, this is S, reporting to you from a pretty spectacular Sunday where I just marathoned the last three episodes of Broad City while chomping on a banh mi sandwich. (Is saying ‘banh mi sandwich’ redundant? Like Rio Grande River? Either way, it’s a baller food item and I recommend eating one, much in the same way I recommend watching Broad City!)

Broad City

Broad City just got picked up for a second season, which is just the best news. Originally a web series created by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of UCB, Broad City was picked up by Comedy Central and is produced by none other than Smart Girl Amy Poehler.

The people love it. (How Broad City Became TV’s Funniest Comedy- Slate) Great right? HOWEVER, amidst all this well-deserved praise lurks a bunch of predictable, annoyingly titled articles drawing comparisons between Broad City and another show I happen to like very much, HBO’s Girls.

Annoyingly Titled Articles Comparing Broad City to Girls:

Why Broad City is the Anti-Girls

5 Things Broad City Offers that Girls Doesn’t

Girls vs. Broad City: Which Show is Actually the “Voice of a Generation”?

Broad City vs. Girls

We Settle the Broad City vs. Girls Debate Once and for All

…and the list goes on! Come on, is that really how it’s gotta be? Pitting women against each other…literally? Broad City vs. Girls? Why? Is there only allowed to be one show about women on TV at a time?!

I don’t accept this!

Shosh Smash(Shosh Smash)

In the words of Jay-Z*, there are eight million stories out there in the naked city. I’m not a mathematician, but I think that means a little over 4 million of those stories are women’s. Broad City is not ‘the anti-girls’. Girls requires no antidote, there’s room on TV for all kinds of shows about women. Shows that vary in tone and message, content and execution, style and story.

Both Girls and Broad City just keep getting better and I’m excited to see more of both. We really do not have to choose. There’s room in this city for all my girls.  And maybe soon, we’ll even see some shows about women who live in the flyover states. -S

Five It

Dance

*This line is actually a direct quote from a 1940s film noir entitled Naked City. But, still, Jay-Z. And also, A Tribe Called Quest.

Ride the Wave

The New York Times recently ran an article about actresses and their move to “step off the scale,” along with a slide show titled Plump and Proud. 

This was inspired by the likes of Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Rebel Wilson, etc., along with other, less famous women who are speaking out publicly about their bodies, themselves. One of the most recent examples is Jennifer Livingston, the news anchor who aired a smackdown on the guy who sent her an email criticizing her physique.

Some recent News with a capital N in the celeb world is that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the Golden Globes in 2013, a turn of events that is probably a bigger deal than it should be in this century, but women are not usually hired to host major award shows. When they are, they invariably have a male sidekick, even when he’s far less competent *coughfranco*

There are also countless endeavors out there that align with the mission of RLB – blogs, public actionstumblrsprojects, videos, memes, organizations, etc. – to improve body confidence among girls and women, and to promote representations of girls and women in the media that reflect authenticity and diversity.

This is all very exciting. This is some serious momentum for ownership of our own beauty, health, and tenacity. Our work is far from done, but… It’s All Happening.

So how do we ride this wave? How do we, you and me and all of the non-famous, out of the public sphere gals, take up this rabble rousing for ourselves? What can we do to embrace and promote this culture of confidence and positivity?

In answer to these questions, RLB has decided to launch a new site called Kick Up Your Heels. KUYH (aka Karate Chop Noise!) will be a place for inspiration, motivation, and positive action. Think of it as real-world application in your own life, as an extension of all the lady celebrating we do here on RLB. We want You to be your Best Self, and we want to help you in ways big and small.

These simple steps will help you either begin or continue living with confidence and positivity. Find your Moxie! Grab your Gumption! Kick Up Your Heels!

Until next time on RLB… here it is, your moment of yin:

Shout Out Blitz

It is so heartening to encounter waves upon waves of confidence and positivity in the world. Thanks, internets, for being the conduit for these amazing endeavors:

1. My New Motto
Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) is a fashion icon. Turns out she is also a kick ass lady who includes hiking boots among the “5 – 10 key pieces every woman should have in her wardrobe,” and smiling as a “beauty essential.”

She is also the architect of my new mantra. During an interview with the one and only GP, DVF was asked about the three top qualities she looks for in a female friend, and her first answer was “Confidence, because insecurity is a waste of time…” How brilliant is that? Can you imagine the things women could accomplish if we all stopped exerting so much time and energy on our supposed shortcomings? Genius.*

DVF follows that up with “…honesty because there is no point in being told everything is great all the time. A woman needs friends who will tell her the truth.” Which, again, sage words from a wise woman. REALness is where it’s at. For her third most important trait, show GOOP a little love and read the interview.


2. Lady Gaga
If you pay attention to pop culture, you know that Lady Gaga is one of the latest female celebs to fall prey to the “OMG she totally gained weight!” scrutiny of the “news” media. She is not the first woman to be put under this microscope, and sadly she will not be the last.

What does set her apart is her reaction to these attacks on her physique. This woman is young, she is crazy talented, and an international phenomenon to boot. She has plenty of power to wield in response to the jerk-faces throwing their judgment around, but instead she is using her power to do two things:
– assert herself as a human being, with as much vulnerability as the rest of us, and
– reach out to her fans
How is she doing this, you ask? With her very own social network (which I was unhiply unaware of until this morning), where she posted photos of her body under the tag Body Revolution, simultaneously revealing her struggles with bulimia and anorexia. She defied her naysayers by owning her insecurities and casting them off, and encouraged her ‘little monsters’ to do the same.

Real Living Beauty aims to do what Gaga is doing, without the massive following of an incomparable pop star. Looking at the images of countless people around the world, and reading bits and pieces of their stories, confessions, and declarations… it stirred me up and made me a. really happy, b. inspired to join the ranks of the monsters and share my swimsuit post from awhile back, and c. a bigger Gaga fan than ever before. Hats off and paws up, M’Lady.
3. The Smart Girls YouTube Channel
This is one of the things that makes me believe growing up would’ve been easier if The Internet had existed. It also would’ve been harder, but right now that’s beside the point.

Amy Poehler is at it again with her cohorts Amy Miles and Meredith Walker. Smart Girls describes itself as “a place for funny, thoughtful and deceivingly educational programming. The channel celebrates girls, friendships and spontaneous dance parties!”

Regardless of your age or gender, do yourself a favor – go watch a bunch of these amazing videos and then subscribe to Smart Girls so you never miss out on one again.


4. My sister and her blog
Many of you know Lou as a guest blogger here on RLB, and I’m sure you’re smart enough to have checked out her blog, Cheap Wine and Pantylines. It was awesome before – consisting primarily of drunken fashion critiques – but she’s going for an even better blog with a writer reboot and a healthy dose of Celebrating Ladies.

RLB is all about ladies and celebrating, and Lou’s take on two of our favorite things is to feature amazing women from her community in Ptown and highlight their amazing abilities, amazing accomplishments, and of course, their amazing fashion. Amazeballs! Amazeovaries! So stay tuned to Lou and her lady friends, as they take over the world one spectacular endeavor at a time.

 

*To be clear, this doesn’t mean I think none of us should or will be insecure ever again. It’s a part of being human. The point is to not let it hold you back, and I have some ideas about how to put that Point into Action. Keep an eye out for RLB’s Action Page – Kick Up Your Heels! Coming Soon…..

Shout Out Blitz! Happy Wednesday, RLB Readers!
Subscribe to Real Living Beauty, share us with your friends, like us on Facebook, and post your thoughts here or email us at reallivingbeauty@gmail.com

Give Amy Poehler a Virtual Hug

Sometimes the happenings it a celebrity’s personal life create a ripple effect. As though they actually matter in our own, non-famous lives. Even without the headline, you would probably all know which recent Happening I am referring to.

As if divorce weren’t hard enough all by itself, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett – two celebs who’ve historically avoided the plague of paps – are now under the microscope of gossip mongers everywhere. Just to twist the knife a little more, some twerpy ‘expert’ blames Amy’s success as the reason her marriage failed, and Twitterers the world over are bemoaning the end of Love as we know it. In an attempt to make sad news into shocking news, the gossips are inventing stupid headlines that hopefully will only spur Amy and Will to laugh at dummies trying to cash in on their heartbreak.

Another tactic is splashing a bit of “scandal” into the scene, by pointing out that A Woman Getting A Divorce Took Off Her Wedding Ring. O. M. G. You guys. That is cray. But wait no it is Super Scandalous because Her Top Is Also Kinda See Through.

All of this makes me tired, so I can only imagine how Ms. Poehler must feel. In spite and maybe because of it all, AP still manages to dole out some sage ass wisdom to gals everywhere, in her delightful YouTube series of Ask Amy videos. The latest one is traveling around the internets, yet sadly is not getting nearly as much attention as the Amy Isn’t Married Anymore So Love Isn’t Real headlines.

Do yourselves a favor. Watch this. Share it. Subscribe to her YouTube channel. We are more than who we love. Now let’s all give Amy a BIG VIRTUAL HUG.

Here she is as our favorite politician, Leslie Knopf
And here she is with gum on her face
And here she is in the Best. Red Carpet Pose. Ever. No effing pigeon-toes here!
And lastly, here she is laughing like she has made us laugh 100 times over, and will continue to even if she’s not married.