TV’s complex women leave ‘the girlfriend’ in the dust

Jill Serjeant –
Forget playing “the girlfriend” or “the mum.” Television is proving an embarrassment of riches for women thanks to complex, original characters and female-centric plots that are attracting Oscar-calibre movie stars to the small screen.
Once regarded as the step child to Hollywood movies, A-list actors like Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Susan Sarandon are flocking to TV series, and jostling for this year’s Emmy awards.
And there’s more to come.
Oscar winners Julia Roberts and Penelope Cruz have their first big TV series lined up for next year, while five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams is due to return to the small screen for the first time since 2005 as the star of HBO’s “Sharp Objects.”
“There is no stigma attached to doing TV anymore, given the opportunities and the writers who are working in television,” said Debra Birnbaum, Executive Editor of television at Variety.
While women have long complained about the paucity of good parts for women in Hollywood movies, this year’s female Emmy nominees read like a Who’s Who of acting.
“Feud: Bette and Joan,” starring Jessica Lange and Sarandon as Hollywood movie rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, is seen by awards pundits in a close race for the limited series Emmy in September with “Big Little Lies,” a murder mystery against a backdrop of wife battering, adultery, rape and female rivalry.
“Big Little Lies,” stars Emmy nominees Kidman, Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern in a tale of female rivalry and sisterhood in which men take a decidedly back seat.
It was picked up and produced by Kidman, 50, an Oscar winner for “The Hours,” and Witherspoon, 41, who took home the Academy Award in 2006 for “Walk the Line,” as their first starring roles in series television.
“When we started on this journey we never thought the series would connect on such a big way worldwide,” Kidman said on Thursday. — Reuters