TV and Movies Finally Celebrate Older Women

A report of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and the Media concluded that even now there is a dearth of roles for older actresses, and the roles that do exist portray them as senile, housebound, weak, or struggling. comfortable. In the highest-grossing films from Germany, France, Britain and the United States in 2019, there were no women over the age of 50, according to the report, and only a quarter of the characters older. 50 years old were women. Only a quarter of the films passed what the report called “The Ageless Test,” meaning they had a female character over 50 who was important to the plot and was presented in “humanizing and humanistic ways. not reduced to stereotypes “.

But it’s possible that this year’s Emmy winners are a sign of changing times, shifting demographics, and shifting tastes – or long ignored. So how did we go from “frail, clumsy and forgotten”, as the institute’s report calls it, to Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing the role of a hilarious, evil and always sexy politician in “Veep”, or Sandra Oh playing the role of a struggling teacher on “The Chair” or Angela Bassett, Felicity Huffman and Patricia Arquette as unsung mothers who resume their lives in “Otherhood”?

“We are in the midst of a demographic revolution,” said Dr Douglas. In 2019, there were just under 72 million baby boomers and over 65 million Generation X. “There are more women over 50 than ever in our society. And millions of them aren’t really ready or eager to be told to go away and obsess over their grandchildren without participating and doing other things.

Amy Baer, ​​president of Landline Pictures, which debuted earlier this year to focus on the over-50s, said aging has become a “much more dynamic experience” – less of a retirement than a start. something new. “Maybe they’ve raised kids and they’re finally in a place where they can focus on themselves professionally and personally,” Ms. Baer said. “They can change jobs. They can finally fall in love after being professionally focused.

She says this shift – to live longer, to live better – is just one reason why representations of older women in Hollywood are finally improving, both in number and scope. Women over 45 are chosen to fill complex roles, sometimes the best roles of their careers.

It started with a few aberrant films in the early 2000s, Ms. Baer said. Two Nancy Meyers romantic comedies – “Something’s Gotta Give,” starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and “It’s Complicated,” starring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin – have portrayed women in their sixties as desirable romantic roles. The films have had enough commercial success to alert guardians of the industry to an untapped audience. They began to realize, Dr Uhls said, “there is a market that we are not tapping into here.”

This audience had both time and money and was conditioned to go to the movies, but could adapt to streaming. Media for and about this market has also attracted other demographics. One of Netflix’s first streaming megahits, “House of Cards,” featured Robin Wright, who was 46 when the series debuted, as the frosty brains of the nation’s most powerful couple. Soon after, “Grace and Frankie”, a comedy about two octogenarian vibrator designers, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, became a hit among many. different demographics; it is now Netflix’s longest-running original series.

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