Women in Television 2018: Female Character Roles in the Post #MeToo Era

The #MeToo movement and Harvey Weinstein scandal brought forth a dynamic shift in the types of female characters seen on television in 2018.
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Women in Television
Corina Marie/TheWrap

Women in television was one of the most impactful and dynamic aspects of 2018. How so? Towards the end of 2017, Hollywood faced a period of much-needed change that brought forth the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. Following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, women in Hollywood started speaking out against the injustices that they were subjected to while trying to make it in a male-dominated industry.

This past Sunday night, the Golden Globes took place recognizing films and television shows from the past year. But more intriguing than the award show itself was the solidarity amongst the attendees. Many dressed in black out of solidarity and as a homage to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. This isn’t the first time that this has occurred as at last year’s Golden Globes many came out in support at the start of the movements.

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At the forefront of the movements have been strong, empowered females that have forever changed the industry. And as a result, 2018 brought along some of the strongest, fierce female characters we have ever seen. If we take a look back at the past year of women in television, you will take note of one common denominator–badass female roles.

These characters encapsulated the general frustrated sentiment that the Weinstein scandal (amongst many others) brought along. It was as if all the anger was channeled into certain characters and became a symbolic representation of the country’s emotions. One particular example comes to mind with The Handmaid’s Tale’s Elisabeth Moss. Now, if you’ve seen this critically-acclaimed Hulu series, you know just how jarring the story is.

Without going into too much detail, the premise of the series is the suppression of female rights in modern times. It has a dystopian feel to it but it’s not that distant in the future from now. At the epicenter of the series is Moss’s character, June. She embodies the anger, pain, fear, resilience, and courage of the many that were affected by those in power. The character of June is a true representation of the many that were victimized by those that took advantage of them in exchange for success.

In fact, The Handmaid’s Tale collectively represents the fear and stigma that often comes with being female. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements encouraged and inspired such roles to take shape, if only to help us realize what is at stake for those affected.

The Handmaid’s Tale is just one of many examples that became part of the trend that followed these powerful movements. Westworld’s Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood who play Maeve and Dolores, respectively, are both further examples of this new type of female character.

Now you want to talk about the fiercest female characters of 2018, these women are it. They are the epitome of what comes out on the other side after movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo. Both Newton and Wood are advocates of female empowerment, and it’s clear that they brought forth this passion in their roles.

Their characters push the boundaries in Westworld and are constantly fighting back against suppression and eliminating the fear that often comes with being a female. It’s inspiring, uplifting, and commendable that such female characters exist, and increased in number following the movements.

In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, many women came forward with their stories. These stories initiated a movement, and this movement changed the face of television forever. It gave the women of Hollywood a voice that was dampened by fear and intimidation, and it translated into some of the greatest female characters we’ve ever seen.

And if the above examples aren’t enough proof for women in television during 2018, then let’s talk The Americans. Keri Russell, who played Elizabeth Jennings, was a ruthless, strong, frightening woman in the series and it’s a role we can never forget. No man, no woman, no industry could take Elizabeth down, and she was always at the forefront of every issue and dilemma. It’s roles like these that give us hope and life in dark times.

In the months that have followed since the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, things have drastically changed in television. We are seeing more independent women (have you seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?!) who encompass the collective voices of females all over the world. And the ones mentioned in this article are just scratching the surface (ahem, Sandra Oh in Killing Eve — mindblowing!).

Hollywood is listening to the anger and giving us female characters we can aspire to be. This trend in strong female characters has really changed the sentiments of television shows, and we are so along for the ride. Here’s to hoping 2019 continues to bring forth amazing women in television and gives a stronger platform for such roles to exist and continue existing.

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