JOY PRESS discusses her nonfiction book STEALING THE SHOW with ANN FRIEDMAN

Stealing the Show: How Women are Revolutionizing Television (Atria)

In the current Golden Age of Television, women are transforming the medium in revolutionary ways. On provocative dramas like Orange Is the New Black, Scandal and Transparent and uproariously original comedies like Girls, Inside Amy Schumer and Broad City, a new wave of showrunners is depicting female experience in fresh, challenging ways.

In Stealing the Show: How Women are Revolutionizing Television, journalist and television critic Joy Press celebrates their achievements with a deeply researched and vividly told chronicle of the women who broke through male-dominated Hollywood and helped change the face of television forever.

Stealing the Show tells the story of “the extraordinary women responsible for an upheaval in pop culture, the reverberations of which continue to shake up the television landscape,” writes Press. “They’ve filled our screens with a throng of unruly female characters and stretched the format further than we ever imagined it could go.” She argues that many aspects of women’s lives “had never been depicted with any depth on a small screen because network executives believed that these things were inherently dull or off-putting. Nowadays we just take it for granted that we’ll be seeing female experiences depicted provocatively and hilariously on our screens—courtesy of a very of irreverent female writers and performers.” 

While the transition from watching characters like June Cleaver make dinner on Leave it to Beaver to seeing Hannah Horvath have sex on Lena Dunham’s Girls was a gradual one, Press pinpoints the beginning of the modern era of TV with two game-changing sitcoms that began in the late 1980s: Diane English’s Murphy Brown and Roseanne Barr’s Roseanne. Behind the scenes, both English and Barr wrestled for control of their shows while, onscreen, they depicted women unafraid to be abrasive or “unfeminine” while pursuing life on their own terms. English and Barr’s work paved the way for other fiercely independent figures such as Amy Sherman-Palladino and Shonda Rhimes, who would control their shows with an unprecedented lack of interference from men at the networks.

Comedy has been one of the crucial zones for this new wave of radical TV women. Press explores how Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, Liz Meriwether’s New Girl, and Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project helped recast the way we see the lives of single working women. Lena Dunham’s Girls became a cultural flashpoint with its unvarnished look at millennial confusion about sex, career and friendship, while Amy Schumer and Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson pushed the boundaries of “grossness.” Blurring the line between comedy and drama in in her shows Weeds and Orange is the New Black, Jenji Kohan has conveyed the imperfect complexity of women in astonishingly fresh, moving ways. And Jill Soloway has boldly delved into the new frontier of gender-fluid identity in Transparent.

As Press takes readers inside the writers’ rooms and onto the sets of these shows, she explores how these talented women have also fought to be more inclusive, bringing other women and underrepresented groups into the fold as writers, directors, performers, and technicians, and helping to change the face of television not only onscreen but off. Looking ahead, she sees women casting an even wider net – even as the political scene becomes perhaps more charged and imperiled than ever. “Contemporary television quakes with women’s sound and fury,” she writes. “Since 2015, a torrent of series created by and revolving around women has shot forth
with the explosive velocity of a champagne cork….The subject matter spans sexual exploration and sexual abuse; female camaraderie and artistic emergence; depression and cancer. Among the protagonists are journalists, prostitutes, lady wrestlers, superheroes and… a lawyer with a tendency to turn female troubles like heavy breasts and period sex into musical extravaganzas.”

Drawing on scores of interviews with key participants in this revolution, Stealing the Show is a revelatory story about the women who changed not just what we see on television but the culture in which we live.

Praise for Stealing the Show

“Joy Press’s Stealing the Show is essential reading for anyone interested in women gaining power, in how edgy storytelling comes to screens, and in brilliantly talented females taking the reins of a once-derided- as-secondary- to-movies medium during its current multi-platform explosion. It’s a page-turner that – between emergency-amped- up feminism in the age of Trump and the digitalization of....well, everything – comes at a perfect time. Shonda, Lena, Jenji, Jill, et al are the hipster powerhouses driving a new bold, wacky, humane presentation of women’s truths and images, many too-long hidden or too-long shamed. I relished their stories – and was inspired by them, too.”– Sheila Weller, author of the New York Times bestseller Girls Like Us: Carole King, JoniMitchell, Carly Simon, and the Journey of a Generation and The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour – and the Triumph of Women in TV News

“A roaring tour of women’s professional, artistic, and political impact on television and on popular culture. By turns invigorating and sobering, Stealing the Show maps the progress of the expanded voice, vision, and reach of women on television and behind its scenes.”– Rebecca Traister, New York Times-bestselling author of All the Single Ladies and Big Girls Don’t Cry

Joy Press has been has been writing about TV for more than fifteen years. In the 2000s, she was the chief television critic at The Village Voice. She later served as entertainment editor of Salon and then as an editor at the Los Angeles Times, where in addition to commissioning television coverage, she wrote and reported features on the medium. She has contributed to publications such as New York Magazine, The New York Times, Slate, Vogue, Salon, and The Guardian. She lives in Los Angeles.

Ann Friedman is a contributing writer for The Cut, Los Angeles Times, The Gentlewoman and more. She co-hosts the podcast Call Your Girlfriend and writes the Ann Friedman Weekly newsletter.

Event date: 
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501137716
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Atria Books - February 27th, 2018