When I saw the list of new drama commissioned by ITV this year I was heartened to see the focus on female characters seems to have shifted, but confused to see that all these female led shows are being written by men.
This is dissatisfactory on several levels. Firstly, female characters written by men do stupid things like get into cars with men they don’t trust. They have long shower scenes which, whilst artfully shot, add nothing but nudity to the story. In short, they often lack the nuance that makes them ring true as women. This is obviously a generalisation, there are men who know, care about, and understand women well enough to write amazing, complex female characters. Hurray for them. But you know who else is good at writing fantastic female characters? Women.
Today an open letter to UK television drama commissioners was published. Signed by some of the UK’s most talented female writers, they want to know why their work is over-looked in favour of male-led drama; why their careers are stymied despite their successes. And I want to know that too.
I’m fighting through education, again, in order to enter this arena and, frankly, sometimes I wonder why. I see what’s going on. I see the very, very few opportunities women are getting. I know that the lack of representation on screen is not indicative of the lack of talent in the industry, but more endemic of an industry that champions male creativity over female at every step. These women are fighting to make a space for me, and all other women who are trying to break into this industry. They’re the trailblazers. I am so grateful to, and so supportive of, them as a writer, yes, but as a woman who wants to see authentic, well-rounded female characters in screen who don’t all fit into a male fantasy archetype.