Is older the new younger?
A debate on women and age diversity in television
In a world where the gender pay gap is at the forefront of our minds because there is still such a chasm to close, where advertising is criticised for still representing women as humorless and mute, where TV is rife with young beautiful actresses as eye-candy for the leading man – will there ever be opportunities for older women to take centre stage on television?
From Big Little Lies to Apple Tree Yard, a flurry of highly acclaimed and popular TV dramas have recently aired on our screens, featuring older actresses at the front and centre of the action. Does this rising trend demonstrate that not only can older women glean success in TV, but that there is a huge demand for storylines featuring strong older female leads from viewers? Recent research from Dr. Martha M. Lauzen found that 16% of the broadcast, cable, and streaming programmes had casts with more female than male characters, is this the best it can get or are we finally seeing an upward trend?
Is TV the new frontier for mature actresses – with 50 becoming the new 20? In a pale, male and stale world are female roles not only woefully being misrepresented, but also entirely missed out? Are women as TV producers, directors, artists and viewers demanding higher quality and more relevant TV programming? How can script writers, commissioners, producers and production companies adapt to this growing trend? Is this the future of TV or a blip likely to be ignored by the industry?