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Minority Report Card: Last Man Standing, Malibu Country.   Leave a comment

“You want to pick on immigrants? Then pick on Willie!”-Groundskeeper Willie

“Willie, please, the children want to pick on someone their own size.”-Principal Skinner

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). This week we had the very last trickle of network premieres, with Last Man Standing and Malibu Country.

Last Man Standing (ABC)

Tim Allen’s sitcom returns for a second season.

Bechdel: Pass

Troy and Abed: Fail

Will and Jack: Fail

Notes: What’s interesting about this show is that the main premise and protagonist have scared off a lot of people who would probably actually enjoy it. The title and the fact that Tim Allen is the star suggest the story of a man trying to deal with a woman’s world and his values being questioned– an icky premise for people in search of progressive shows. However, the female characters are far from being the embodiment of ideas for Tim Allen to refute with old-fashioned morals. Instead they are fleshed out, intelligent, independent human beings who it’s easy to sympathize with. To give you an idea of how far this show is from being the outdated man’s man sitcom it appears to be from the ad campaign, the opening scene is the four female characters all discussing politics. As someone who’s been monitoring how often female characters are allowed to talk, on their own, about things other than boys, this scene was music to my ears. While the development, intelligence and prominence of the four female characters is very surprising and refreshing, the show is pretty lacking in representation of queer people and people of color. Hector Elizondo’s Ed isn’t given much to do besides be a sounding board for the Tim Allen character. A lesbian character was featured in an episode last season, but even though she was established as a neighbor and became friends with the protagonist, it seemed clear she was a one-off character. While more progressive than you might expect, this show still lacks the diversity of most other ABC sitcoms.

Malibu Country (ABC)

Reba McEntire’s new sitcom centers on a recently divorced mother who moves from Nashville to Malibu.

Bechdel: Pass

Troy and Abed: Fail

Will and Jack: Fail

Notes: Jai Rodriguez provides the only non-white character, in a role that seems very one-dimensional. His character is most likely gay, since this does not seem like the kind of show that would give a character stereotypically flamboyant mannerisms and then make him anything other than homosexual. There’s another male character I’m somewhat intrigued by who claims to be gay, but is later revealed to regularly kiss girls. This doesn’t seem like the kind of show that would handle bisexuality or pansexuality well, but I might keep tuning in to find out where they’re going with this kid.

Well, premiere season is over! Here is a list of the premieres that passed every test:

 

Glee (Fox)

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Modern Family (ABC)

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

The Amazing Race (ABC)

The Good Wife (CBS)

Congratulations to ABC for being the clear winner here.

With premiere season over, my monitoring schedule will be much less clear cut. I’ll continue tracking American Dad! until it manages to pass one of the tests. Other than that, I’ll be watching whatever grabs my interest or seems popular enough to warrant taking a look at. If there’s a show you’d like me to look at, I’m completely open to suggestions (keeping in mind that I don’t have premium channels).

Minority Report Card: Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory and More.   Leave a comment

“Oh, so that’s it. This is some kind of underwear thing.”-Homer Simpson

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). This week was by far the biggest week for premieres of the season– I’ve got 33 of them for you! So let’s begin. Note: Last night’s premieres are not included below. They’ll be in next week’s report because I’m only human and sleep is important.

Guys with Kids (NBC)

This new sitcom’s title says it all. The results below only reflect the pilot and not the episode that NBC called the “premiere.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is possibly the most sexist show I’ve seen since Work It. The problems begin with the title. It’s a show about six heterosexual couples, yet they decided to call it Guys with Kids so you’d know which part you’re supposed to actually care about. Throughout the pilot the guys complain about how Sheila (Childrens Hospital‘s Erinn Hayes), the ex-wife of Chris (Jesse Bradford), is a monster because she makes all the decisions with their son. Then in the climax Chris stands up to her by saying that since he’s the father she just has to trust him. Nothing about making the decisions together or compromising. Just expressing the exact sentiment that they spent the whole episode claiming made Sheila a monster. There’s also a bizarre joke where Sheila says she has a date and Nick (Zach Cregger) reacts with shock and asks, “With a man?!” I can’t even tell if that joke is homophobic because it’s so odd. The only positive thing I can say about this show is that the African American couple is about as prominent is the other two couples. That’s it.

Animal Practice (NBC)

This new sitcom features a monkey in a lab coat. The results below reflect the pilot and not the episode that NBC called the “premiere.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: There are three women and two people of color in the main cast. Too bad all of these characters are one dimensional.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

This sitcom returns for an eighth season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I can’t tell you how sick I am of shows about large groups of friends in New York that don’t include any people of color or queer people. That’s quite unlikely.

Partners (CBS)

This is a new sitcom from the creators of Will & Grace about two best friends, one gay and one straight, and their respective partners.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: I was a fan of Will & Grace, but I was always bothered by the lack of diversity. Aside from the fact that almost everyone in the cast was white, bisexuals and gay women were treated mostly as a joke. Based on the pilot, this show seems like more of the same.

2 Broke Girls (CBS)

This series about two waitresses in Brooklyn returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Obviously, Bechdel is where this show really shines. The female leads are distinct and complex and discuss their sexuality with frankness. However, the portrayal of people of color and people from foreign countries on this show is horrifying.

Mike & Molly (CBS)

The sitcom that won an Emmy for having its lead star in Bridesmaids returns. 

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This season premiere had the sort of extremely homophobic plot line that I honestly didn’t think TV shows tried to get away with any more. Watching CBS is like traveling back in time. As distracting and awful as that element of the premiere was, the show in general is one of the only shows to represent plus-size people in a positive way, letting them be the fully developed leads instead of just being a joke.

Dancing with the Stars: All Stars (ABC)

This reality show about celebrities ballroom dancing is returning with an “all stars” season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Based on what I could scrounge up from Wikipedia, the only queer person involved in the competition is dancer Louis Van Amstel.

NCIS (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although there aren’t any queer characters in the main cast of this show, they’ve apparently done some quality gay story lines in the past.

NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Honestly, these shows are all blurring together in my memory and Google didn’t turn up any interesting articles, so I have nothing to add to my results.

The Mindy Project (Fox)

Mindy Kaling (The Office) produced and stars in this new sitcom.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is one of the only shows on TV where the clear lead is a woman of color and the first show ever produced by and starring an Indian person. It’d be nice to see some queer representation on it in the future.

Ben and Kate (Fox)

This new sitcom is about a single mother and her brother.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: With only one person of color in the main cast and no queer characters, the representation on this show could stand to improve.

New Girl (Fox)

The hit sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel returns for a second season. They premiered with two episodes, so below are the results of both.

Episode 2.1

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Episode 2.2

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Winston and CeCe, the two people of color in the cast, are both quite funny and well-developed, but aren’t as prominent as the three main white characters. Even in the second episode of season two, which dealt with Winston’s family, the focus was on Schmidt’s relationship with Winston’s family. Season one introduced a lesbian character named Sadie (June Diane Raphael) who was established as one of Jess’s best friends. Here’s hoping we see more of her in season two.

Vegas (CBS)

This new show explores the rivalry between Michael Chiklis and Dennis Quaid in 1960s Las Vegas.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: “Historical accuracy” is a decent excuse for not having a large number of women and people of color, but there’s no reason the women and people of color that we saw in this episode couldn’t have been more prominent. Since this show failed all three tests, I’m going to continue watching it and reporting back until it passes at least one of them.

Private Practice (ABC)

This Grey’s Anatomy spin-off focuses on doctors in prenatal care and pediatrics.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: As far as I can tell there aren’t any queer characters on this show, which seems odd for a Shonda Rhimes show.

Castle (ABC)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show has a strong female lead, Nathan Fillion’s charming smile and not much else.

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)

Flashy detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I’m not sure, but I think this might be the only show on TV where Asian characters are given entire scenes alone together.

The Neighbors (ABC)

This new show is about a family that moves into a neighborhood occupied entirely by aliens.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: It’s weird that these aliens don’t understand how humans eat, but have gender roles down perfectly. That could be satirical, but I’m hesitant about giving this show too much credit.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Like many of these cop/detective shows, the best thing I can say about it is that it has a strong female lead.

CSI (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show could really use a queer main character, since the vast majority of the minor characters that show up are criminals or suspects, so it’s hard to show minor characters in a positive light.

The Middle (ABC)

This family sitcom returns for a fourth season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is not a progressive show. This is the kind of show where a wealthy family with no major problems regularly wonders if anyone has it worse off than them or is crazier than them.

Modern Family (ABC)

This Emmy darling about an extended family returns.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: The show fulfilled its basic promise by easily passing all my tests.

Scandal (ABC)

The Shonda Rhimes show that’s not about doctors returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is another show where the clear lead is a woman of color. There is also a queer main character, Jeff Perry’s Cyrus Beene. Last year’s season finale gave us a scene between Cyrus and his husband. I’m hoping season two will have more scenes between the two of them.

Elementary (CBS)

This new show capitalizes on the fact that Sherlock Holmes is now in the public domain.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Despite the fact that the second most prominent character on the show is a woman of color, this show failed every test. I’ll keep watching it and posting the results every week until it passes one of them.

Criminal Minds (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Yet another detective procedural that boasts strong female characters but not much else.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

This hit sitcom returns for another season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Sheldon seems distinctly asexual, but they don’t truly acknowledge it and at the end of this episode Raj may have asked a guy out. It’s like they knew I had to decide whether this show has two queer characters interacting and they just wanted to mess with me. However, since Sheldon’s asexuality and Raj maybe asking a guy out were both treated as jokes, I’m going to go ahead and give this a fail until we get more elaboration.

Two and a Half Men (CBS)

Despite the fact that the titular “half man” is now enough of a full man to be in the army, this sitcom is still plugging away.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is another show that seems like it’s trying to mess with me– Alan and Waldon have a rather serious seeming conversation about how they’d like to have sex with each other. However, the laugh track throughout tells me to count this as a fail. I’ll keep watching it and reporting back until it passes at least one of these tests.

Person of Interest (CBS)

The show where Benjamin Linus from Lost solves mysteries with Jesus returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although this show failed Bechdel, the antagonist played wonderfully by Amy Acker is probably the most interesting character. I’ll keep watching until it passes at least one test.

Last Resort (ABC)

This new show follows ex-members of the U.S. military who settle on an island after refusing orders from the government.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The representation on this show is much better than the test results show. The lead character, Marcus Chaplin (played by Andre Braugher), is an African American man and there are lots of prominent women and people of color with prominent roles. I’ll keep watching until it passes at least one test and I have a good feeling this will get cleared up pronto.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

The long-running medical drama returns for another year.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: It’s not surprising that a Shonda Rhimes show would pass all three tests easily.

CSI: NY (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I’ll keep watching this and reporting back until it passes at least one test.

Made in Jersey (CBS)

This show follows Martina Garetti (Janet Montgomery), a blue collar woman from New Jersey who gets a job at an upscale Manhattan law firm.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This features a large number of distinct, strong female characters and a sympathetic portrayal of a working class family. But, there are no queer characters and no prominent people of color.

Blue Bloods (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This once again falls into the “strong women but not much else” category, although in this one the female characters really aren’t that strong.

Fringe (Fox)

This sci-fi show returns for its final season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The cast features only one person of color and no queer characters.