Archive for the ‘last man standing’ Tag

Minority Report Card: Whitney and More.   Leave a comment

“There are two things I know about white people: they love Rachel Ray and they are terrified of curses.”-Ken Hotate

With premiere season over, this column is now going to monitor representation in a sample of seven episodes every week (until midseason premieres – woohoo!). 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”). I’ve selected one TV show from every night of the week to look at. I don’t have a particular system devised for selecting episodes to look at, so please comment if you have any requests.

Bob’s Burgers (Fox)

For Sunday I looked at the show I believe is the strongest part of the animation domination line-up. The episode I watched was 3.4 “Mutiny on the Windbreaker.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is among the best shows for great female characters, but as usual this episode was a let down for representation of people of color and queer characters– even though this episode had a very large supporting cast, so there was plenty of opportunity for diversity. There was one character who did seem to be gay, but it was played entirely as a joke.

Gossip Girl (The CW)

On Monday I looked once again at the final season of The CW’s once excellent series. The episode I looked at was 6.5 “Monstrous Ball.” 

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: As usual, the final season of Gossip Girl fails at diversity and everything else.

Go On (NBC)

On Tuesday I watched the freshman sitcom starring Matthew Perry as a man going through grief counseling. The episode I looked at was 1.8 “Video Game Set Match.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is easily one of the best sitcoms around for diversity. Although this episode failed the Will and Jack test, Anne continues to be a strong character.

Whitney (NBC)

On Wednesday I watched the premiere of the second season of comedian Whitney Cummings’s show. This was Episode 2.1 “Bawl and Chain.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: One of the things that annoyed me about the ad campaign and first couple of episodes of this show were the broad generalizations about women. Based on this episode, they seem to have fixed that problem– statements about Whitney being irrational were statements about her personally, not women in general. However, there is no racial diversity on the show and Lily’s many comments about her gay ex-boyfriend were definitely annoying, if not problematic.

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

On Thursday I looked at my favorite show on television, Amy Poehler’s excellent sitcom about the people who work for a small town government office. The episode I looked at was Episode 5.7 “Leslie vs. April.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show is so progressive in most ways that the lack of queer representation always surprises and disappoints me. Come on, guys. Throw someone in there!

Last Man Standing (ABC)

On Friday I looked at the second season of Tim Allen’s family sitcom. The episode I watched was Episode 2.3 “High Expectations.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The “we have new neighbors….but they’re black!” plot line is, uh, not exactly fresh. (In fact, this same show did basically the same plot last season with a lesbian couple). Also, because the plot was about the novelty of a black family, I couldn’t stop being reminded that we used to have shows that were actually about black families. Television does not always move forward as time progresses. The lack of queer representation is no surprise. The plus side here is that the subplot about the two daughters showed them as fully realized human beings with an array of pursuits that don’t have to do with men.

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

On Saturday I watched this long-running variety show. The episode I looked at was Episode 38.8 “Jeremy Renner / Maroon 5.” 

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This cast is 36% people of color and 36% women. One wonders what all those people were doing throughout this episode.

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).