TV Eye

Where My Ladies At?

When TV Eye complained last week that there weren't enough strong roles for middle-aged women on TV, readers wrote in support of the women of daytime TV and PBS' (now-canceled) <i>Prime Suspect</i> with Helen Mirren.
When "TV Eye" complained last week that there weren't enough strong roles for middle-aged women on TV, readers wrote in support of the women of daytime TV and PBS' (now-canceled) Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren.

A couple of readers had something to say about last week's "TV Eye," "And Then There Was Maude," about the passing of actress Bea Arthur. Specifically, they took issue with my lament that middle-aged women were hard to find on the small screen and those that are out there are not quite cutting it.

Kevin Mannion of Austin offered this important addendum:

"I believe you forgot one of the most prominent women's roles on broadcast television in the past decade; namely, Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennyson on the PBS series Prime Suspect. Surely, as prolific and groundbreaking as Bea Arthur was in the role of Maude, Mirren achieved new heights in her role."

Oh, snap! Of course! Mirren starred for seven seasons as the tenacious Inspector Tennyson in the BBC production, which was first brought to U.S. audiences in 1992 on PBS (an encore of the final season aired in 2008). Credited with reconstituting the crime drama, the series featured Mirren as a brilliant but imperfect aging woman working in a male-dominated field, doing her best to keep her dignity and her sanity intact.

I confess that I have never seen Prime Suspect in its entirety. It's one of those series I have on my "must watch on DVD" list. And while I am not a fan of crime dramas in general, Mirren alone is worth dropping that prejudice.

Daytime soap operas are another genre I'm not fond of, yet reader Natalie Nicola of Austin thinks I'm missing some good women there, particularly in TV's longest running series, Guiding Light (CBS):

"[Guiding Light is] slated to be canceled just as they are featuring a captivating same-sex love story between a very Catholic Latina widow and her fiancé's much-married ex-girlfriend. This being soap-land, there is a lot of melodrama and soapy silliness, but the focus on the storyline is this previously straight woman's acceptance of her love for another woman while remaining a practicing Catholic. Naturally there was an emotional interruption [at a] wedding when the bride fled the altar to declare her love to her maid of honor. Did I mention that the mayor of this soap-land burg is a snarky closeted lesbian called Doris Wolfe?"

I have a friend who suggests, like Nicola, that if you want to see interesting and compelling women and difficult social issues tackled for the first time, you need to turn to the soaps. While the storyline Nicola shares sounds compelling, my tolerance for "soapy silliness" waned many years ago. No, I prefer my melodrama served toasty, not soapy, which is the only explanation I have for tuning in to such prime-time fare as Grey's Anatomy, Brothers and Sisters, and occasionally Desperate Housewives.

Thanks to those readers who weighed in on the subject.


KLRU Lays Off Staff, Paul Saucido Back on ME TV

The sour economy forced local PBS affiliate KLRU to lay off 12 staff members on May 5, as well as make several programming changes. The most visible change includes suspending overnight hours, signing off from 1 to 6am. The award-winning program Docubloggers will go on hiatus (although the show's official website makes it sound fairly permanent), while InContext.tv will become a series of occasional specials focusing on the local arts community. Programs unaffected by the cost-cutting measures include Texas Monthly Talks and Central Texas Gardener.

Austin-based Latino-music lover and former ME Television veejay Paul Saucido is returning to TV – ME TV – but only for a limited time. After the struggling TV station bid Saucido farewell in a mass layoff, Saucido went online, posting interviews, reviews, raves, and rants about what's new and cool in the Latino music scene. Because May is Latino Music Month, ME TV asked him to return to create 3- to 4-minute segments on what's happening where to play throughout the month. Saucido will film interviews with artists, such as local singer-songwriter Myrna Cabello about her upcoming show at the Long Center, along with sit-downs with higher profile artists such as Ozomatli. The segments appear hourly, and as Latino Music Month progresses, Saucido says there may be a chance to do some actual programming. ME TV airs on Time Warner Cable Channel 15. For those without Time Warner, check out Saucido online at www.saucidoslant.blogspot.com.

And finally, you can now follow "TV Eye" on Twitter at www.twitter.com/chronicletveye.

As always, stay tuned.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

women in TV, Bea Arthur, Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect, Guiding Light, Kevin Mannion, Natalie Nicola, Latino Music Month, ME Television, Paul Saucido, Myrna Cabello, Stephen Mills, Hamlet, Ballet Austin, InContext.TV

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