Fall TV 2011: From Playboy Club to Tim Allen's return; A battle of the sexes in your living room
When saw the slate of new shows picked up by the TV networks for this fall, my first thought was: There's a lot of women here.
But as I dug into the substance of what was coming -- from the eye candy-as-empowerment tales of Playboy Club and Pan Am to the emasculated guys fighting back on ABC's Last Man Standing and Man Up! -- I realized something else.
There's a real battle of the sexes going on here. And one side seems to have his finger on the scales.
That's why I made that battle the theme for my fall TV preview this year, anchoring reviews of nearly all 27 new shows debuting this fall season (Fox's Allen Gregory, an animated series bowing in late October, hasn't released a full pilot yet).
Click here to see the online version of our fall TV preview, complete with links to a day-by-day breakdown of all the shows, my snark opinions prominently featured. And click here to read the main essay for the section, which was published in the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday. And look here for our handy grid showing what the fall season will actually look like once every new show has debuted.
One reason TV has always been a schizophrenic medium, is that more women watch TV than men, but men control and run the industry.
This fall, I think that's given us an odd result: More new shows than ever featuring women -- 15 out of the total 27 -- but many shows featuring women in parts that feel conceived and developed from a male point of view.
Would a woman suggest a tale of life as a Playboy bunny in the 1960s as an empowerment story? Would a woman want to reboot the '70s "jiggle TV" action classic Charlie's Angels with bigger explosions and a Miami location?
And while that's going on, the men are striking back, too. Despite making all the money, running all the big companies and setting the cultural agenda for the world, American males still tend to feel like a persecuted species (hence, the careers of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh).
So we can welcome a small rush of men-finding-their-manhood series, from Tim Allen busting the chops of his wife and three daughters in Last Man Standing to Kevin Dillon trying way too hard to create an Odd Couple for the Entourage generation in CBS' How to Be a Gentleman.
I'm going to have a lot more coming in this space about Fall TV, but let this serve as a good start; next up -- my list of the best new shows coming this fall.