As women’s roles continue to expand in society, so too are their roles growing on television. More than ever, capturing the female audience is vital to a show’s success, and that was the subject of Sunday’s smart and funny “Courting the Female Audience” panel at the Producers Guild‘s Produced By conference.
Women are also, it would appear, looking for zombies, or at least one particular set of them. “The Walking Dead is the No. 1 show for women,” said Marc Juris, WE TV president and general manager. Either way, “Female viewers are much more demanding and discerning,” said Matt Warburton, executive producer of Fox’s The Mindy Project. “They care about the quality of a show. For men, fart jokes and an explosion are enough.”
So-called “procedurals” – those ubiquitous, based-on-a-real-story crime dramas – remain popular with older women in particular, the panelists agreed, although moderator Debra Birnbaum, a contributing editor at Variety, said she finds it “hard to deal with” all the genre’s “rape and torture.” Notwithstanding The Real Housewives of Pretty Much Everywhere, reality shows offer some of the best opportunities for female viewers to see real women like themselves dealing with everyday issues that affect their lives. “Reality does a much better job,” Juris said.