Sometimes, if you're lucky, mainstream culture critiques itself.
I just sent the following in to EW's letters to the editor in support of a recent commentary in their "News and Notes" section. Unfortunately, I can't find the article online to link to here; it's worth looking up if you can get your hands on the Holiday Movie Preview issue. We'll see if my letter gets published.
Thank you for your article, "Worst Wives Club" (November 9/16, 2012) about the disproportional derision directed at the wives of TV's antiheroes on shows such as The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc. Though author Keith Staskiewicz doesn’t quite come out and identify the fans’ hatred for characters like Lori, Skyler, and Betty as misogyny, his description makes clear that the viewers’ vitriol is not gender-neutral. I do wish Staskiewicz had taken his excellent critique one step further to the writers, show runners, and producers who create these women as “everything from narrative distractions to nagging shrews.” We do know from examples like Friday Night Lights that it is possible to create and sustain critically-acclaimed portraits of loving, equal marriages in which both husband and wife have strengths and flaws. In the midst of a second Golden Age of Television, Hollywood needs to be held to higher standards. Staskiewicz’s article is a good start.
This issue calls to mind the exchange I had with (swoon) Jane Espenson about women writers and female characters, as well as Greg Rucka's excellent article, "Why I Write 'Strong Female Characters'." It's an important discussion, and I, for one, am glad that EW is participating.