Why can't programs with female lead characters be aimed at men/boys too?

(66 Posts)
apartridgeinapeartree Fri 09-Nov-12 14:30:23

This one annoyed me today!

DS's new favourite thing is a DVD which DP got him: "Mona the Vampire".

It's a cartoon - Mona and her friends (one girl, one boy) fight ghouls, goblins, aliens etc. To an adult viewer, it's clear it's all in their imagination, it's nicely done IMO. It's good fun and DS loves it.

It's an American cartoon, but the British marketing which comes with it has an incentive to buy more Mona DVDs - makeup.

It didn't even occur to me that it was aimed specifically at girls! DS is too young to pick up on this, but a "makeup" offer might make older boys decide it's not for them. And even if it doen't, it's clear the company marketing it see it as a girls thing.

I'm fed up with male leads being the default but female leads being a special girls/women's thing - even in children's programs! CBeebies is sadly guilty of this too sometimes isn't it? (Thinking of Tree Fu Tom for example - all the main characters are male, except one token female).

I can think of very few programs / films where the lead is female but it's aimed at a mixed audience. Can you think of any?

The wonderful Fargo springs to mind, can you think of any more to cheer me up? This is depressing!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 15:00:01

You are so right.

I've bought Jane and the Dragon for DS1. Recommended on

We watch Nina and the Neurons, good as Nina is just "the scientist"

Also: Studio Ghibli films eg Kiki's Delivery Service.

Apologies if you know of these already.

GetAllTheThings Fri 09-Nov-12 15:27:38

films that spring instantly to mind...

True Grit ( Cohen Bros version )
Salt ( Angelina Jolie )
The Secret Garden
Wizard of Oz ( ? )
Pixar's Brave
5 Alien films
4 resident Evil films
3 Underworld films
The Hunger Games
Tomb Raider

Not sure how mixed the audience might be.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 15:45:09

Salt is an interesting one, IIRC it was either written with a male or a gender non-specific lead (I.e. Salt)

Pootles2010 Fri 09-Nov-12 15:49:14

I'm not sure if it is aimed at girls or not, but - Peppa pig. My ds loves it, we were going to do Peppa Pig party for him (didn't in end due to costs) but one of dp's friends was suprised that we were doing him a 'girlie' party hmm

GetAllTheThings Fri 09-Nov-12 15:49:19

Yes Tom Cruise was pencilled in at one point.

I thought True Grit was outstanding.

ParsingFancy Fri 09-Nov-12 15:50:31

Buffy, naturally.

GetAllTheThings Fri 09-Nov-12 15:51:06

Charlie and Lola ?
Little Einsteins maybe ( although the 'leader is a boy )

GetAllTheThings Fri 09-Nov-12 15:53:24

Million Dollar Baby
Silence of the Lambs
V for Vendetta

ParsingFancy Fri 09-Nov-12 15:54:23

Oh and Dollhouse, also from Joss Whedon.

fluffyanimal Fri 09-Nov-12 15:54:54

Resident Evil/Buffy/Tomb Raider: all appealing to male audiences because of a "sexy" female in long boots/leather/skimpy high school clothes flings her legs around and/or has a liking for big guns (phallic image). I don't see any of these as feminist role models I'm afraid.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 15:57:52

Buffy is a bit of a different kettle of fish to Tomb Raider though. She's usually in standard teenager clothing, I think.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 15:58:22

Ie not usually skimpy...

fluffyanimal Fri 09-Nov-12 16:02:43

Do a google search for images of Buffy, see how many cleavage shots, cropped tops and short skirts there are.

ParsingFancy Fri 09-Nov-12 16:03:38

Hmm, on the Fargo theme, several female cops/detectives:

Cagney & Lacey (but was that primarily aimed at women?)
any Miss Marple
Case Sensitive
PD James' Cordelia Gray series.

Which reminds me, the film Charlotte Gray.

I'm using the OP's criteria of female lead + general appeal, rather than female role-model.

ParsingFancy Fri 09-Nov-12 16:05:07

female feminist role-model

namechangeguy Fri 09-Nov-12 16:36:42

Claire Daines in Homeland, the best drama currently on UK TV. Her character, Carrie Mathison, is not without her issues, but that is what makes her so powerful. Her and Damian Lewis' characters are absolutely outstanding.

namechangeguy Fri 09-Nov-12 16:40:50

Frances McDormand again in Burn After Reading.

CaseyShraeger Fri 09-Nov-12 16:51:04

Look at a random selection of teenage girl, see how many cropped tops/short skirts there are. Altho

CaseyShraeger Fri 09-Nov-12 16:53:20

Gah! Although maybe not at this time of year; in the summer when we are closer to a Californian climate.

Although did Buffy wear short skirts? <<goes off to Google as requested>>

CaseyShraeger Fri 09-Nov-12 16:55:51

Since you ask, Google image search for Buffy, first page of results - no cleavage shots, no cropped tops, one short (not tight) skirt.

CaseyShraeger Fri 09-Nov-12 17:00:56

Second page of results (this is on mobile so fewer results to a page) - one cleavage shot, plus one wearing a jacket with nothing underneath - so combined cleavage + cropped, I suppose. But it's not an image from the series and not one I remember seeing in the publicity; it looks rather like an unrelated photo shoot Sarah Michelle Gellar did.

GetAllTheThings Fri 09-Nov-12 17:03:01

I can't remember any gratuitous skimpiness in Buffy, she was a very strong female character.

Joss Whedon said "The very first mission statement of the show was the joy of female power: having it, using it, sharing it."

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 18:25:38

Google also ranks and reranks by popularity - I can believe that the more revealing images are clicked on out of proportion to their frequency inthe series.

WrathdePan Fri 09-Nov-12 18:36:49

Googled Buffy = no cleavage/legs photos in first 7 pages. Gud because I am (still) trying to get dd into Buffy and she would not approve of salaciousness. At all.

WrathdePan Fri 09-Nov-12 18:40:56

Claire Danes in "Stardust". Aimed at everyone!grin

Well anything with Claire Danes in it is fine by me.

CaseyShraeger Fri 09-Nov-12 18:47:30

Looking at the DVD packaging (i.e. the way it was marketed): season 1 - black vest top, and not cropped, no cleavage; season 2 - sensible black 3/4 sleeved top; season 3 - sensible black 3/4 sleeved top; season 4 - high-necked sleeveless top; season 5 - tiny bit of cleavage, I suppose; season 6 - v-necked top but no cleavage; season 7 - not cropped and no cleavage but this is the only image I feel a bit hmm about as her top is cut quite low at the back and she's doing that silly looking-back-over-shoulder-at-the-camera pose.

wigglesrock Fri 09-Nov-12 18:50:48

My dd loved Wolfblood (on CBBC) She said that everyone in her class watched it, I know there were 2 leads but I think it was the main female character and her best friend that were the actual "leads".

SomersetONeil Fri 09-Nov-12 19:10:53

I guess it links in with the Bechdel test, and the fact that men routinely see their reality reflected back at them when they watch a movie or TV, but women rarely do.

And another tenuous link is the fact the JK Rowling used her initials back when she was an unknown - boys wouldn't want to read a book by a woman; all sorts of assumptions would have been made as to the content of the book. And then 3 of the 4 leads were boys. Luckily the girl has the most gumption. smile

DS (3) and DD (2) both love Dora in equal measures. Shame they felt obliged to come up with Diego to make it that bit more palatable for boys

CaseyShraeger Fri 09-Nov-12 19:34:38

The Sarah Jane Adventures - lead character was female and over 60. It was a spin-off from a series with a male lead, but I think it built up enough of its own following to count.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 19:36:14

Tracey Beaker? Know nothing about it except its name.

rosabud Fri 09-Nov-12 19:46:00

The Tom Hanks animated Christmas film with the train - Christmas Express or something? The "lead" or main character is a boy but the little girl who finds a way to include the poor and inspire the sceptical - what a strong character she is! I think there is a hint at the end, too, that she is a future president.

SamuraiCindy Fri 09-Nov-12 20:33:10

Yes, Peppa Pig as another poster said. My son and daughter both love it. I am so happy it became a huge success to slap it up CBeebies (they were pitched it and turned it down if I remember).

The Descent is a great film with an almost 100% female cast.

KittyLilith Fri 09-Nov-12 20:45:10

What about the tv series Once Upon a Time? The main characters are mainly female and all the female characters are strong in my opinion.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 21:00:31

Did everyone apart from me realise Peppa was female before they started watching it?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 21:08:58

NCG, I love Homeland and Claire Danes but it's co-led rather than female led, I'd say. Still, there's no reasonable way Brodie could be a woman, so I'll let them off grin. Definite Bechdel Test pass too.

I think mixed co-leads may be more common for general appeal, Friends for example.

I never saw My So-Called Life, was that aimed at both genders?

phoolani Fri 09-Nov-12 21:21:44

Hunted with Melissa George. Crackin'.

rosy71 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:00:19

My boys loved Peppa Pig and ds1 liked Dora the Explorer. Both of them like The Sarah Jane Adventures too.

rosy71 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:01:53

The Tom Hanks animated Christmas film with the train - Christmas Express or something? The "lead" or main character is a boy but the little girl who finds a way to include the poor and inspire the sceptical - what a strong character she is! I think there is a hint at the end, too, that she is a future president.

Polar Express? My boys enjoyed that too.

rosy71 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:03:18

Oh yes, they liked Maisy Mouse too.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 22:07:54

Maisy! DS2 likes maisy, thanks for the reminder

<adds to Xmas list spreadsheet>

nailak Fri 09-Nov-12 22:11:21

kora the avatar

that phillip pullman 1fil1m

Alcatraz? Maybe Bones? Definitely maisy mouse!

noblegiraffe Fri 09-Nov-12 22:14:59

My DS loves Tilly and Friends which recently started on CBeebies.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 09-Nov-12 22:21:27

Bones is another example of mixed co-leads, isn't it? Haven't watched it much. X-Files would have been a better example than Friends from me upthread.

WrathdePan Fri 09-Nov-12 22:24:04

Here's test of age/memory...The Champions, with Alexendra Bastedo.

WoweeZowee Fri 09-Nov-12 22:32:39

I was just going to say X Files, too. It's all about Scully's journey...

CarolynKnappShappey Sat 10-Nov-12 00:09:57

Just finished watching Underworld: Evolution. Utter tosh, but definitely a successful action series with a female lead: ditto Resident Evil; Alien.

LesserOfTwoWeevils Sat 10-Nov-12 01:45:23

The His Dark Materials movie

EduCated Sat 10-Nov-12 12:31:37

Was going to say Homeland too, which has already been mentioned, although it is a bit co-led rather than female-led.

Judging from FB and Twitter, New Girl seems to be popular across my male acquaintances.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Sat 10-Nov-12 12:49:16

Pan's Labyrinth

WrathdePan Sat 10-Nov-12 13:02:34

Saskia . Modesty forbade me. Thank you.

hermioneweasley Sat 10-Nov-12 13:06:10


SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 12-Nov-12 18:29:15

WrathdePan smile You're awfully good in that, you should make more films!

BoneyBackJefferson Mon 12-Nov-12 18:43:49

Tru Calling
Dark Angel
Joan of Arcadia
Monsters vs aliens

crazygracieuk Mon 12-Nov-12 18:48:03

Alien series is the only one I can think of although I would say that I know more make than female fans.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 12-Nov-12 19:07:23

Monsters vs Aliens is a female lead but I think it might be a Bechdel test fail (I know that wasn't the question), which is a shame.

WrathdePan Mon 12-Nov-12 19:19:59

Saskia - less is more.grin

BoneyBackJefferson Mon 12-Nov-12 19:28:00

Susan did have a conversation with the groom's mother (she was named but I forget) about the genetic deformity of having one short thumb. (the groom was mentioned but was not the subject of the the conversation, so I'm not sure that it counts.)

BoneyBackJefferson Mon 12-Nov-12 19:33:57

sorry scrub that, its starts off being a conversation about being a weatherman's wife.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 12-Nov-12 19:34:21

Ah, my faith in M&A is restored, thanks BBJ.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 12-Nov-12 19:34:45

Bah, dashed again!

CaseyShraeger Mon 12-Nov-12 19:55:20

I think she has a conversation with her mother about something later on, maybe? Would need to rewatch to check.

PurpleGentian Mon 12-Nov-12 20:13:33

Bechdel test?


Star Trek: Voyager

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 12-Nov-12 21:30:05

Bechdel test:

Two (named) female characters
Who talk to each other
About something other than a man

So Monsters and Aliens would pass if Susan and the groom's mother talk about weird thumbs but fail if they only talk about the groom.

Sex and the City passes.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs fails, despite having a strong female character.

CombustionEngine Fri 16-Nov-12 12:06:21


Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now