I didn’t have a television in high school (I KNOW! IT WAS HORRIBLE!), but luckily I did babysit a whole lot so I could watch TV at those houses after the kids had gone to bed. Back then one of my absolute favorite shows was the prime time cop drama, Cagney and Lacey (what? I’m old, alright? Graduated high school in 1985, ug.).
The show was completely revolutionary; not only were Cagney and Lacey both women, cops, and detectives, but one of them was also a mother. A happily married working mother, no less. In 1982? You just didn’t see that on television.
Unfortunately, after Cagney and Lacey ended in 1988 (SOB – although there was a brief, glorious moment on Burn Notice where the two actors were on screen again) it took years for there to be another successful show featuring two women as crime investigators. In fact, until the last few years, you didn’t see many female detectives on television at all unless they were playing minor roles. Thanks to some creative cable networks, however, we’ve seen a slew of women-led shows (my favorites include The Closer, Saving Grace, and Rizzoli and Isles) and in this last year we’ve even seen them move onto the major networks. Sadly, few if any of the characters in those shows are mothers, although the new show Motive features a woman detective and mother.
At the same time women featured in major roles in movies virtually disappeared after Meryl Streep’s hey day in the 80s and 90s. I’ve gone to see all of them, though, because I believe in seeing women in film and I want the price of my ticket stub to hopefully convince the movie studios that women DO want to see movies with women in them. In the last fifteen years I’ve seen every single bad romantic comedy there is because it was the only place to find women in leading roles (except in some great art films, of course).
But then came Bridesmaids. Suddenly everyone in Hollywood is like, “Huh? Women can be funny? Who knew?” and this, blessedly, has led to Melissa McCarthy entering her “Tom Hanks” phase (um, remember Joe vs. The Volcano? yeah, he made some crappy movies too) with movies like Identity Thief and The Heat (by the way, I totally want Melissa McCarthy to play me in the movie of my life; she’d look good with pink hair, right?).
Which explains why I’ll go see The Heat, even though the New York Times gave it a bad review today. It’s is the VERY FIRST buddy cop movie with TWO women as the cops (unless you can prove me wrong!). I can’t WAIT to see it. I do not care how bad it is. I want to see women on screen running the show instead of being bit players. In fact, I’ve avoided seeing several movies I know I’d enjoy because there isn’t a single woman in them.
What about you? Do you have favorite movies with women as the stars? Will you go see The Heat?