The New Female Antihero: The Disruptive Women of Twenty-First-Century US Television

Univ. of Chicago. Jan. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780226816357. $95; pap. ISBN 9780226816401. $26. FILM
Hagelin and Silverman (both, English, Univ. of Colorado, Denver) analyze a unique cultural shift in the portrayal of women in the last decade of American television. In this thoroughly researched, clearly written book, they state that—although TV in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s saw nuanced depictions of women (e.g., The Mary Tyler Moore Show)—the women antiheroes of more recent TV are radically different: They flout social norms, display bleak and pessimistic outlooks, and are driven to seek a new kind of feminism. Hagelin and Silverman analyze the evolving role of the woman antihero on TV in drama and thriller series like Game of Thrones, Scandal, and Homeland. The authors also examine how the protagonists of “girl comedies” (such as Girls, Broad City, and Insecure, whose creators often star as fictionalized versions of themselves) openly and casually discuss personal failings.
VERDICT This extremely thought-provoking look at radical changes in depictions of women on TV will appeal to readers interested in media and cultural theory.
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