×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Leading ladies propel Showtime

Strong female characters give boost to network

While movie studios ponder the success of strong female characters on TV and what that means for their slates, Showtime is speeding ahead with the confidence that viewers are drawn to femme-driven stories.

Cabler has built a murderer’s row of killer star turns with Mary-Louise Parker in “Weeds,” Edie Falco in “Nurse Jackie,” Toni Collette in “United States of Tara” and “The Big C” lead Laura Linney — who thinks Showtime has “really good taste.”

“Bill Condon (who directed the ‘Big C’ pilot) and I were talking about MGM in the golden age of film, about having a great stable of women,” Linney says. “It’s unusual for one network to have such a stable of great lineup and talent, including the men, not just the women.”

Showtime president of entertainment David Nevins says it was very much a plan to try to create strong, complex characters — it just so happened that the characters were female.

“Actors are the best and the most astute readers,” says Nevins. “And I think as the movie business has become more and more tentpole driven and the sophisticated adult dramas have pretty much dried up, there is a world of actors interested in reading TV scripts.”

Nevins says the women in the starring quartet all have great force of personality.

“None of these women are shrinking violets,” he says. “Another thing is their dexterity: to do what Toni Collette does or Laura Linney does, going from comedic to dramatic. Sort of sad to fierce. I like ballsy women with a sense of humor, and none of our shows, including the serial killer show, take themselves too seriously. It makes the show more real and grounded and believable.”

Inside the industry, Nevins believes that Showtime is getting a good reputation for being a place where having good, complicated, “messy” writing and characters get rewarded.

“It doesn’t get rewarded in network television or movies,” he says. “I think people are appreciative of that, and it creates a close bond between the program and the audience, I feel they get a real piece of Laura and Mary-Louise and Toni and Edie — people feel very possessive of the shows,” he says.

Interestingly, Parker, who notes TV’s tradition of female-driven hits starring the likes of Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore, has some reservations concerning the antihero tilt.

“The only thing now is,” Parker says, “women don’t have to be played as sparkly, and it doesn’t matter if they are enormously rough around the edges. I think that was true of men, too: There were certainly not a lot of Tony Sopranos as I was growing up.”

“Some of that is good, and some of that I don’t think is good. It’s one thing to create a character that is complex, it’s another thing to have an anti-heroine. There’s something about that as a trend that seems equally false. It’s sort of where the premise becomes something controversial — they (the industry) think because this show sold, like my show, ‘Maybe we’ll do that.’ ”

More from Award Season Focus: The Women
The end of ‘Best Actress’? | Leading ladies propel Showtime | Rodarte feathers ‘Swan’ tutus | Femmes top toon contenders
Fresh Faces:
Cecile de France | Jennifer Lawrence | Shannon Woodward | Hailee Steinfeld

More Scene

  • James Marsden attends the 2019 MOCA

    New Abortion Ban Laws Take Center Stage at MOCA Gala

    Forty years ago in Los Angeles, the decision to invest millions in a museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art — not to mention its formerly desolate downtown location, where the vibe was more apocalyptic than artsy — was a risky proposition. But now that the city’s cultural heart has shifted south of Hollywood, it seems [...]

  • Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment,

    Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment, Imprisonment for Trump, Says Maybe Al Pacino Should Lead Instead

    Robert De Niro honored Al Pacino, his longtime friend and four-time collaborator (with Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “The Irishman” marking their latest pairing), at the American Icon Awards, and then called for a different type of tribute for President Donald Trump — “impeachment and imprisonment.” “You didn’t think you were going to completely get away without [...]

  • Millie Bobby Brown on Her Feature

    Millie Bobby Brown Calls Her Film Debut in 'Godzilla' 'Kind of Unreal'

    Millie Bobby Brown is no stranger to stardom thanks to “Stranger Things,” but she still can’t believe she’s making her feature film debut in the monster reboot “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” “It’s kind of unreal,” Brown told Variety at the premiere. “I’m like, ‘What is happening right now?’ It’s so bizarre and unreal, and [...]

  • CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Robert

    Robert Pattinson Helps HFPA Donate $500,000 to Refugee Organization at Cannes Event

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association proved in Cannes Sunday night that the Golden Globes aren’t the only festive bash it can pull off each year. At the glamorous Nikki Beach party held in association with Participant Media, the HFPA donated $500,000 to international aid organization Help Refugees. Co-hosts Robert Pattinson and Helen Mirren along with Quentin [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Alexis Martin Woodall, Ryan

    Peabody Winners Talk Empowered Women and Social Justice Challenges on Red Carpet

    The theme on the red carpet at the 78th annual Peabody Awards? Empowering women. On Saturday, Peabody winners gathered at Cipriani Wall Street, and one of the hot topics on everyone’s mind was the wave of female empowerment spreading across the industry. From Peabody’s Career Achievement Award recipient Rita Moreno to shows like ‘Killing Eve’ [...]

  • CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 18:

    Cannes: Robert Pattinson, Shailene Woodley Attend Starry Vanity Fair Party

    It’s true what they say about Batman being a loner. On Saturday night, Robert Pattinson made his first public appearance since being cast as the new Dark Knight at this year’s Vanity Fair Party at the Cannes Film Festival. But while all the other A-list guests mingled and worked the crowd at the restaurant of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content