In solidarity with my friends and family in South Buffalo I have been sheltering at home during the snowstorm. Mind you not a lick of snow has fallen in Manhattan. Truth be told, and it so rarely is, freshly miserable from the mid-term election avalanche, I was avoiding the Desolation of Smug post-election analysis by catching up on my TV dame shows.
Cold comfort. I had settled down for a long winter’s watch: “Homeland,” “Nashville,” “The Good Wife” and the Scandal-ridden stories of a place called ShondraLand. Correct pillow placement, chip to salsa ratio and correct clicker. And along came the winter season finales like the annoying coital interrupt us of a knock on the door from housekeeping. How long has this hiatal thing been going on?
When I was coming up, the big three networks, actually the only three networks, would take a break for a few weeks for holiday specials. Suddenly “Bonanza” was gone and we were forced to behave through the made-for-TV Menotti opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors. Or sing along with the blindingly white King Family trilling Christmas standards, perched on a green-garlanded staircase. Sometimes I could talk the Clinton family parents into watching Nixon-nosed Bob Hope snark his way through his USO show. I didn’t get him, but my brothers and I did enjoy the scantily clad showgirls. A lot.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programs.
That there are so many women-centric TV dramas, often written, developed and run by women is the good news. That Shondra Rimes owns Thursday night primetime is the great news. It’s probably not good form to use TV’s depiction of women as a synecdoche for all straight women, but I am worried about my straight sisters.
“Homeland’s” Carrie Mathison, a high-ranking CIA station chief, is Exhibit A of what the fog of war can do to anyone. I unfriended her for two weeks after she almost drowned her baby. Is her only secret weapon the sexual seduction of assets like Brody and the very young Aayan?
“Nashville,” created by Callie Khouri of “Thelma and Louise” fame, has “Friday Night Lights’” Connie Britton as country music star Rayna James. It’s great to see an older woman get a second wind, take the lead in her career and lean in to mentor young women. But Rayna seems defined by the endless torment of her two loves, Deacon and Luke.
The Rimes’ vehicle “Scandal” has Olivia Pope capably fast-talking and managing images all over D.C. She, too, is tormented by two loves, a CIA agent and the president of the United States. In our house, “Scandal’s” fatal flaw is how anyone could find the president a catch.
I’m generally so exhausted from all that shark-jumping that I can’t watch Rimes’ “How to Get Away With Murder,” which is on right after “Scandal.” I’m saving the wonders of Viola Davis and the amazing wig removal scene for another snowstorm.
It is fun to watch “The Good Wife” with an actual lawyer, although my, “Can they actually do that?” is as annoying as Alicia Florrick. Although a reputedly strong woman she seems constantly flummoxed, passive and flounces away instead of asking a follow-up question. My in-house lawyer often moans, “Ugh, she’s such a girl.”
There has to be a middle road between “Golden” and “Gone Girl.” I humbly suggest that each of these heroines could benefit from a lesbian friend. Forget Kalinda, an L-Word lesbian grown up and gone bad. Not a one of these gals has a lesbian friend to buck her up and trash-talk the men in their lives. Kathy Bates can’t be everywhere, but I am available.
Kate Clinton is a humorist who has entertained audiences for more than 30 years and a regular Blade contributor.