Ep 226: James Talia, Eurovision, Bechdel Test

James Talia joins us to discuss the recent controversy over Channel 7 news and the former NSW Minister for Transport.

We review this year’s Eurovision coverage and the Lost finale.

And we look at the recent shows we’ve reviewed and see how they match up against the Bechdel Test.

All that and more. Just listen.

Don’t forget to let us know about your list of the greatest TV characters of all time.

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18 Comments

  1. Loving the chat about the Bechdel Test. RE: Brett's comments about “reflecting reality”, let's keep in mind that television does not just reflect culture, it also creates it.

    The justification for so few women in hosting and other roles on TV is that “people don't want to see them”. To this I say “which people?” and then “the more women the GP see on TV, the more they'll get used to it”. We are 50% of the population, my view is that there simply is no justification for our poor representation on the telly and we need to be reminded about it in order that it can be challenged.

    Hooray for the Bechdel Test, look forward to chatting about it!

    Nelly Warrior Princess

  2. I think television shows don't pass the Bechdel Test not because there isn't a demand for them, but because people have been conditioned not to expect female characters on television to the point that if you get one nongirlfriend female character good on you. And yet if a show portrayed men the way most portray women, it would be widely decried as sexist.

  3. I think television shows don't pass the Bechdel Test not because there isn't a demand for them, but because people have been conditioned not to expect female characters on television to the point that if you get one nongirlfriend female character good on you. And yet if a show portrayed men the way most portray women, it would be widely decried as sexist.

  4. Since you guys first drew my attention to the Bechdel Test, the way I watch everything has transformed. I can no longer tolerate anything that doesn't pass the test, because it's too patently ridiculous (and frankly offensive) that women would talk about nothing but men.

    Breaking Bad has been pants this year anyway, but Skyler and Marie, the only two women in that show, only exist to talk about Walt and Hank. What's especially ridiculous about that is that Walt and Hank only know each other through those two women.

    That's the worst example I can think of, but it's right through almost everything. Yet it's perfectly acceptable for a load of men to talk about anything at all.

    I think what I'm trying to say is that you've buggered up television for me.

    Brett, please tell me you were playing devil's avocado.

  5. I still can't believe Hey Hey has a BARREL GIRL. In 2010.

  6. For John,
    I can't get into the “The Wire”, either. And I'm NOT ashamed to admit it. I am fairly eclectic in what I like to watch; I loved “Oz” (the maximum security prison), but gave up on “Lost” really early (probably the first season). I watch both “RockWiz” AND “Spicks and SpecKs”

    AND….
    top Ten TV Characters (in no particular order, limited to free to air)

    Homer Simpson
    Endora (Agnes Moorehead) from Bewitched
    Chris Stevens (John Corbett) aka Chris in the Morning , from Northern Exposure,
    FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan ?) from Twin Peaks
    Cheryl West (Robyn Malcolm) from Outrageous Fortune
    Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) from Seinfeld
    Sergeant O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) from F Troop
    Kareem Saïd (Eamonn Walker) from Oz
    Fay Furillo (Barbara Bosson) from Hill St Blues
    Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) from The Sopranos

    Notes –
    1) Northern Exposure – toss up between Chris Stevens and Maurice Minnifield,
    2) Oz – toss up between Kareem Saïd and Vernon Schillinger
    3) Hill St Blues – toss up between Fay Furillo and Lt. Howard Hunter
    4) The Sopranos WAS a pay tv only show, but ist now on one of the extra freeview channels
    5) I was surprised that I only had three women in the list
    6) I was surprised that there was only 1 animated character

    PS At the time of writing, Barry O'farrell was still alive.

    have fun, and thanks.

  7. ten best characters of all time were real hard to pick. when it came down to it I chose those characters who entertained me the most.

    Omar Little – The Wire
    Sam Tyler – Life on Mars
    Tobias Beacher – Oz
    Dexter Morgan – Dexter
    Jessie Pinkman – Breaking Bad
    Charles Prentiss – Absolute Power
    The Doctor – Doctor Who
    Daria Morgendorfer – Daria
    Benjamin Linus – Lost
    Bill Haverchuck – Freaks and Geeks

    I would also have loved to be able to put gene hunt on the list but Sam Tyler's interaction with the world just created such an interesting decent into possible madness. Charles Prentiss from the show absolute power was such a magnificent bastard when it came to manipulating the media and peoples perceptions i couldn't leave him out.

  8. Both Dexter Morgan and Miguel Prado (the DA or Assistannt DA) from Dexter were on my long list, but I'd read the books before I saw the TV show, and while I SHOULD be able to treat them (the books and the show) as two separate entities, I kept thinking “NO NO NO, thats NOT what happens”.

    BTW, Entertainment Weekly survey of top ten TV Characters, won by Homer Simpson.
    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37448035/ns/today

  9. We couldn't sustain interest in The Wire, either. Found it ponderous.

  10. A little tongue in cheek 😉

    Bea Smith (Val Lehman) – Prisoner
    Matt Hammond (Ed Deveraux) – Skippy
    Ted Bulpitt (Ross Higgins) – Kingswood Country
    Gerald 'Nudge' Noritis (Chris Truswell) Hey Dad..!
    Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce (Alan Alda) – M*A*S*H
    ALF (Paul Fusco) – ALF
    Sun Wu-Kong aka Monkey (Masaaki Sakai) – Monkey Magic
    Colonel (Rob Sitch) – The Late Show
    Molly Jones (Anne Tenney) – A Country Practise
    Patrick Joseph 'P.J.' Hasham (Martin Sacks) – Blue Heelers

  11. I can't believe I didn't have a Prisoner character on my list. I hang my head in shame… Nelly “Vinegar Tits” Thomas

  12. My toss up for the Northern Exposure pick was out of Chris in the Morning and Ed. I think Maurice was a powerful, reprehensible man with a lot of money who continually got stymied by the people around him for the good of the community – which was great.

    Sopranos got abused by channel 9 long before the repeats started on the secondary digital channel.

    Fay Furillo because she was such a pile of neuroses that she drove everyone around her crazy? HSB was a major oversight I only realised an hour after submitting my list but I was torn between Belker and Washington. I'm still informed by the incredible amount of cool Washington was drenched in.

  13. My toss up for the Northern Exposure pick was out of Chris in the Morning and Ed. I think Maurice was a powerful, reprehensible man with a lot of money who continually got stymied by the people around him for the good of the community – which was great.

    Sopranos got abused by channel 9 long before the repeats started on the secondary digital channel.

    Fay Furillo because she was such a pile of neuroses that she drove everyone around her crazy? HSB was a major oversight I only realised an hour after submitting my list but I was torn between Belker and Washington. I'm still informed by the incredible amount of cool Washington was drenched in.

  14. On the Bechdel test, I wasn't saying there's not an imbalance between the genders in film and TV writing and I wasn't saying I appreciate that <facetious>society's creative endeavours concentrate on serious conversations that men have about important things rather than women chatting about shoes, clothes, kids and gossip</facetious>.

    I wonder if the energy that goes into talking and writing and tracking of the scores in the Bechdel game isn't just busy work that keeps people that may have the talent to create material Mithat isn't male dominated away from development of compelling content. I'm not sure there's a point in talking about all the different shows that fail the test – what would probably be more effective is to start talking about and educating about the shows that DO have women talking about serious issues that are engaging so that non-academic, non-third-way feminist (was that what John called it?), non-treatise reading, regular suburban dwelling viewers start to discover and consider the difference.

    Middle-aged suits aren't going to bother listening to the scores or looking at an exhaustive list categorising everything that gets a release but they are going to sit up and take notice when the number of eyeballs start to drive ratings up on shows that are the antithesis of The Footy Show.

  15. On the Bechdel test, I wasn't saying there's not an imbalance between the genders in film and TV writing and I wasn't saying I appreciate that <facetious>society's creative endeavours concentrate on serious conversations that men have about important things rather than women chatting about shoes, clothes, kids and gossip</facetious>.

    I wonder if the energy that goes into talking and writing and tracking of the scores in the Bechdel game isn't just busy work that keeps people that may have the talent to create material Mithat isn't male dominated away from development of compelling content. I'm not sure there's a point in talking about all the different shows that fail the test – what would probably be more effective is to start talking about and educating about the shows that DO have women talking about serious issues that are engaging so that non-academic, non-third-way feminist (was that what John called it?), non-treatise reading, regular suburban dwelling viewers start to discover and consider the difference.

    Middle-aged suits aren't going to bother listening to the scores or looking at an exhaustive list categorising everything that gets a release but they are going to sit up and take notice when the number of eyeballs start to drive ratings up on shows that are the antithesis of The Footy Show.

  16. On the Bechdel test, I wasn't saying there's not an imbalance between the genders in film and TV writing and I wasn't saying I appreciate that <facetious>society's creative endeavours concentrate on serious conversations that men have about important things rather than women chatting about shoes, clothes, kids and gossip</facetious>.

    I wonder if the energy that goes into talking and writing and tracking of the scores in the Bechdel game isn't just busy work that keeps people that may have the talent to create material Mithat isn't male dominated away from development of compelling content. I'm not sure there's a point in talking about all the different shows that fail the test – what would probably be more effective is to start talking about and educating about the shows that DO have women talking about serious issues that are engaging so that non-academic, non-third-way feminist (was that what John called it?), non-treatise reading, regular suburban dwelling viewers start to discover and consider the difference.

    Middle-aged suits aren't going to bother listening to the scores or looking at an exhaustive list categorising everything that gets a release but they are going to sit up and take notice when the number of eyeballs start to drive ratings up on shows that are the antithesis of The Footy Show.

  17. Northern Exposure:
    Id forgotten about Ed !! And even though he was only an occasional character, what about the psycho chef Adam (played by Allen Arkin, I think). BTW, I agree with your assessment of Minifield, but you don't have to like the character to find them interesting !!

    Hill St Blues
    100% with you on Washington. I also liked the way the character of Renko (the 'gold old boy') was allowed to grow and mature. And the character of Belker must have been fun to play 🙂

  18. I completely understand that you're not denying a gender imbalance in production (and that you're not sexist), but I don't entirely agree with what you've said here. The common perception is that shows featuring women are either girlie shows or titillation for straight men.

    To illustrate my point I've been sat here for the past hour trying to think of recent fictional shows that centre on women, but this is seriously all I can think of:

    – The View/The Circle/Loose Women: (considered girlie, and they're produced for women anyway)
    – Commander in Chief (the best example I can think of, but it was still more about her gender than anything else)
    – Sex and the City (all about sex with men/impressing men AND considered girlie)
    – The Good Wife (a man is the focus before you even get to the end of the title)

    The only two recent shows I can come up with that aren't seen as either girlie or sexualised are The Surgeon (remember that?) and Parks and Recreation. (On that subject, Jan in The (US) Office began as a powerful senior manager and very quickly degenerated into Michael's unemployed, emotionally dependent fuck-buddy. A huge opportunity was squandered there.)

    Back to your point: We could go berserk writing scripts that treat women like actual people, but they wouldn't get up, and if they did they'd just be perceived as girlie or marketed as raunch. There's already plenty of willing talent, yet here we are in 2010 still discussing the problem.

    I think awareness of the Bechdel Test is far more effective because it forces viewers to notice things they didn't notice before. That's where the change will come from: viewer expectations.

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