If the last television season was the year of successfully pushing diverse narratives, then this television season could be the year of movie sequels/reboots on television. It was already a slight trend last year, but TV is going all out this year. The only question is: Where are all the movie-to-TV adaptations for women?The two big movie sequel series this year are Minority Report, from 2002’s Tom Cruise movie, and Limitless, from 2011’s Bradley Cooper movie. Both (sort of) make sense for the TV sequel treatment: they are big action-thrillers that come with built-in suspense and energy, and both feature a science-fiction twist (one of the most surprising successes last year was Syfy’s 12 Monkeys). They lend themselves well to weekly discussions, interesting mythologies and theories, and over-analytical recaps.
Yet these series aren’t exactly for women. This isn’t saying that women don’t enjoy these movies, or that they won’t enjoy the series (I love the Minority Report movie, and will watch every episode of Limitless, mostly for Jake McDorman), but they are no doubt male-centric films and will be very male-centric television series.
Television is still dominated by male narratives, even when those narratives aren’t even original. Just take a look at some of the adaptations that were announced during the last year (some of which won’t move forward): police thriller Training Day which CBS picked up a few weeks ago; horror sitcom Ash vs. Evil Dead on Starz which will be entertaining but doesn’t erase the fact that the movies are cult hits for men; the CW’s “sophisticated” horror-crime pilot based on the Friday the 13th franchise; NBC’s supernatural legal drama The Devil’s Advocate which has a put pilot commitment; action-comedy Rush Hour that will premiere in 2016; USA’s Shooter, about a former Marine sniper, recently cast Ryan Phillippe in Mark Wahlberg’s role; WGN’s To Live and Die in L.A.; and raunchy, crude-dude comedy Bachelor Party.
Not all of these are terrible ideas — I’m already on board with The Devil’s Advocate — but all of them are movies that were primarily marketed to men and, if they move forward, will be television shows that are also marketed to men. Women will still watch these shows, of course, but it doesn’t change that we feel left out from the adaptation boom.
Still, it should be noted that women are not being left out entirely. The CW is toying around with an adaptation of The Notebook, while Fox is eyeing both Monster-In-Law and Hitch sitcom adaptations. What’s immediately apparent, however, is that when television networks seemingly actively try to cater to women — or at least include women — the networks go straight for the romantic-comedies, rather than try to think a little out of the box about what women want (and it’s not a TV adaptation of What Women Want).
Sure, some of these rom-coms have great potential; Hitch could definitely work as a television series, especially if it ramps up the laughs and provides a lengthy will-they/won’t-they scenario. But most are basic, and things that we’ve seen plenty of time before — Monster-In-Law is just a typical family sitcom about someone not getting along with their in-laws. They aren’t original, and we deserve better. “We” as in women, definitely, but also “we” as in the general television community.
Does television really need to pack in another police drama to a lineup that’s already full of blue uniforms? Why not go in the opposite direction and dig through some classic movies for women — after all, Clueless’ television adaptation ran for a successful three seasons, easily beating about 99% of NBC’s new sitcoms the last few years.
Isn’t it about time we get a television version of The Craft? An hour-long dark comedy-drama about a group of high school outcasts balancing algebra with witchcraft, falling deep into the occult, causing supernatural harm to the men who have hurt them would be on so many people’s must-watch lists because of how many built-in fans the movie already has. Cast Willow Smith in the lead, and you’ve got a hit. It would undo the disappointment of The CW’s Secret Circle.
In fact, there are a number of successful movies that were marketed to women and have great potential to become a similarly successful television series. TV is sorely lacking in a great roller derby series; we were teased with Melanie’s plot in Bunheads, so maybe ABC Family should snag the rights to 2009’s Whip It. Since TV will keep on churning out legal drama after legal drama, a network should go the Legally Blonde route, which could definitely be a fun, comedic, law procedural (and yes, with rom-com elements). A Sister Act adaptation could fill the musical hole Glee left on Fox (and would be miles better than TV Land’s Impastor) while Syfy could pair 12 Monkeys with an adaptation of Lucy. And isn’t it obvious that a Mean Girls series could be television’s next best teen drama?
There is no doubt that television is going to continue making these sequels, reboots, prequels, whatever so the very least networks could do is search for something beyond a generic male-led and male-centric action thriller and give us ladies something to look forward to in the fall.