Trends: Updating Classic Films to Be More Inclusive

Emma Watson as Belle in 'Beauty and the Beast' (The Leaky Cauldron)

Emma Watson as Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (The Leaky Cauldron)

Within the last few years, many films have been updates to classic films. While it’s no secret that Hollywood likes to recycle its own ideas, there’s now a push to make the films more inclusive.

The 2016 release of “Ghostbusters” brought one change to the classic film: the ghostbusters were all played by women (the very funny Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones). While some butthurt fanboys cried that the reboot  killed their childhood (actually, they usually used a much more brutal, assault-y verb for it), the movie brought in $46M+ on its opening weekend, and grossed $229M+ over its theatrical run.

“Ocean’s 8,” which will be released in (wait for it…) 2018, will also feature all female leads in its remake-of-a-remake. (Seriously, the first version involved Frank Sinatra and his boys’ club Rat Pack and was released in 1960.) But “Ocean’s 8” does one better than “Ghostbusters” in that it’s more diverse. In addition to Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and rapper Awkwakfina will also star in the ensemble. And that first cast photo looks lit.

This weekend, Disney is releasing a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” This movie has a lot going for it: For starters, Emma Watson as the titular character gives it some feminist cred. Watson had a lot of input on the character, and  Belle doesn’t wear a corset and is an inventor. (Remember, in the original 1991 film, Belle’s father was the inventor with the wacky contraptions.)

Updating the characters to reflect modern times also extends to the supporting cast. Le Fou, muscle man Gaston’s main lackey, is now going to be gay. And in love with Gaston. Which puts a lot of things into perspective, actually. Though Le Fou will be the first openly gay character, he’s far from the only gay character that Disney has created.

The movie will also feature the first two interracial kisses in a Disney movie: one between wardrobe Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and harpsichord Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), and the other between candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and feather duster Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). And Disney is here for it.

I can’t wait to see how Disney movies continue to grow and evolve in terms of representation in the future.

 

 

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Trends: All-Female Reboots

"Ghostbusters," 2016 (Geek.com)

“Ghostbusters,” 2016 (Geek.com)

The 2011 movie “Bridesmaids” was very funny, no doubt about that. The film, which starred a cadre of funny women led by Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, centered on the escapades of the titular group as they helped their friend (played by Rudolph) on the way to getting hitched. The movie was well-liked by audiences, and that showed in the revenue. At the end of the year, “Bridesmaids” ranked #14 at the domestic box office with $169M+ in revenue, and #20 in the worldwide box office with $289M+ in revenue.

But it also had an effect on movies that we’re still feeling: “Bridesmaids” convinced studios that audiences (both women and men, shocker) would see a movie with an all-woman cast. Well…duh. And now studios have sat up and taken notice.

The waves from “Bridesmaids” have hit an interesting formula: to remake a beloved movie with an all-female cast. The rationale goes that if the men liked the original, then the women will love the remake! (And there’s the assumption that the men will be dragged to the movie from their ladies, but it’s OK because it’s a nostalgic property.)

One high-profile all-female remake has already come out: this year’s “Ghostbusters.” The reboot has Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones investigate paranormal happenings in New York. The movie has a strong “Saturday Night Live” heritage: In addition to Wiig, McKinnon and Jones logging time on the show, the movie also featured current cast member Cecily Strong in a notable part. “Ghostbusters” debuted at #2 on opening weekend, and as thus far grossed $124M+ domestically and $208M+ worldwide.

Another all-female project announced recently was a reboot of the 2001 heist movie “Ocean’s 11” (which itself is a remake of the 1960 movie of the same name). Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Nora Lum (better known by her rap name Awkwafina) will make up the ensemble. No release date yet, but I know I’ll be seeing it in the theatre because I vote with my dollars.

It’s great to see so many movies getting made with all-female ensembles, but I can’t wait to get to the point where it’s not noteworthy anymore, but unremarkable and accepted.

 

 

Elle’s Women in TV List Is Most Diverse Ever

Priyanka Chopra, %22Elle%22 (Tribune)

Priyanka Chopra, “Elle” (The Express Tribune)

Fashion magazine “Elle” doesn’t exactly have the best track record in terms of showcasing diverse women. Over the years, they’ve lightened Gabourey Sidibe’s skin, and photographed Mindy Kaling in close-up. (Incidentally, Kaling was photographed for a cover of the Women in TV list for 2014.) But it looks like they’re finally getting it: The magazine’s 2016 Women in TV list is its most diverse yet, and three of its five cover stars are women of color.

Taraji P. Henson (from FOX’s “Empire”), Viola Davis (ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder”), and Priyanka Chopra (ABC’s “Quantico”) each received their own special cover. And none are in closeup or otherwise “hidden.”

This is heartening step forward for non-white women to see themselves represented and recognized in mainstream fashion magazines. I certainly hope it lasts and grows from here.

Trends: Interracial Couples on Broadcast TV, 2010-2015, Part 1

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) in 'Scandal' (EW.com)

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) in ‘Scandal’ (EW.com)

Fall TV is back! Ready for your favorite shows to return? Some of the cable companies have already begun to premiere new seasons of their fall shows, and now it’s time for the Big Four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) to follow suit.

The primetime premieres of shows new and old start this week, and it’s always interesting to see how much diversity makes it onto our screens. I was curious to see if the incidence of interracial couples on the Big Four networks had risen over the past five years (since trends are a bit slower to infiltrate there). I looked at incoming shows (i.e. those that started with pilots), and didn’t count returning ones. I was mainly looking for romantic couples, but noted platonic ones and love interests as well.

Part 1 explores the findings, and Part 2 (which will be published tomorrow) will show change-over-time trends with tables and graphs.

And now to the findings:

2010-2011:

Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) in 'Happy Endings' (Oh No They Didn't)

Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) in ‘Happy Endings’ (Oh No They Didn’t)

ABC: 3 shows/4 couples

  • Happy Endings: African-American man Brad Williams (Damon Wayans Jr.) is married to white woman Jane Kerkovich-Williams (Eliza Coupe).
  • My Generation: White guy Steven Foster (Michael Stahl-David) had a one-night-stand with Caroline Chung (Annie Son) in high school, which resulted in a child. Also, African-American Rolly Marks (Mehcad Brooks) is married to Dawn Barbuso (Kelli Garner), who’s white.
  • Off The Map: African-American man Dr. Otis Cole (Jason Winston George) has a relationship with Latina Zee Toledo Alvarez (Valeria Cruz).

CBS: 0 shows

For shame, CBS.

Fox: 1 show/0 couples

  • Breaking In: Melanie Garcia (Odette Annable) was the love interest to white guy Cameron Price (Bret Harrison).

NBC: 1 show/0 couples

  • Outsourced: The show implied a future between white Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport) and Indian woman Asha (Rebecca Hazlewood).

 

2011-2012:

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in 'Scandal' (New York Post)

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in ‘Scandal’ (New York Post)

ABC: 1 shows/1 couple

  • Scandal: Washington fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) starts/continues (spoiler?) a relationship with President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn).

CBS: 1 show/1 couple

  • Rob: White guy (Rob Schneider) marries Maggie (Claudia Bassols), and gets to know her Mexican-American family. (Incidentally, Schneider isn’t completely white, but is of partial Filipino descent.)

Fox: 2 shows/1 couple

  • I Hate My Teenage Daughter: White woman Nikki Miller (Kate Finneran) raises her biracial daughter Mackenzie (Aisha Dee), with help from her ex-husband Gary (Chad L. Coleman).
  • Touch: Kiefer Sutherland and British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s characters’ relationship was strictly platonic.

NBC: 0 shows

This was the second season in a row that the network had no shows with interracial couples.

 

2012-2013:

Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Casey (Anders Holm) in 'The Mindy Project' (Fox)

Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Casey (Anders Holm) in ‘The Mindy Project’ (Fox)

ABC: 2 shows/4 couples

  • Mistresses: White woman Savi (Alyssa Milano) sleeps with her African-American coworker Dominic (Jason George). Asian-American Dr. Karen Kim (Yunjin Kim) sleeps with her patient, Thomas Grey (John Schneider). Latina single mom April (Rochelle Aytes) dates white man Richard (Cameron Bender).
  • The Neighbors: African-American woman Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) is in a couple with white man/fellow alien Larry Bird (Simon Templeman).

CBS: 2 shows/2 couples

  • Elementary: Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is white, and Dr. Joan Watson is Asian (Lucy Liu).
  • Golden Boy: Latino detective Christian Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro) has an affair with white fellow detective Deb McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville)

Fox: 1 show/9 couples

  • The Mindy Project: Indian OB-GYN Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) dates all the white guys: Dennis (Ed Helms), Matt (Seth Meyers), Josh (Tommy Dewey), Brendan (Mark Duplass), Jamie (B.J. Novak), Sam (Seth Rogen), Adam (Josh Meyers), and Casey (Anders Holm). She also flirts heavily with co-worker Danny (Chris Messina).

NBC: 1 show/0 couples

  • Do No Harm: Dr. Lena Solis (Alana de la Garza) was the love interest of Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale).

 

2013-2014:

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) in 'Sleepy Hollow' (The Chiefly)

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) in ‘Sleepy Hollow’ (The Chiefly)

ABC: 0 shows/0 couples

A rare no-show for interracial couples this season from ABC.

CBS: 1 show/1 couple

  • Extant: Astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) is married to Dr. John Woods (Goran Visnjic).

Fox: 3 shows/3 couples

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) crushes on his Cuban-American partner Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero).
  • Gang Related: Vee Dotsen (Inbar Levi) and Tae Kim (Sung Kang) are a couple.
  • Sleepy Hollow: Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) work together to protect their town.

NBC: 1 show/1 couple

  • Welcome to the Family: A white girl (Ella Rae Peck) and her Latino boyfriend (Joey Haro) get pregnant right out of high school.

 

2014-2015:

Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) and Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) in 'How to Get Away with Murder' (World News)

Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) and Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) in ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ (World News)

ABC: 4 shows/7 couples

  • Black-ish: African-American advertising executive Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) is married to Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), a mixed-race surgeon.
  • Cristela: A Latina attorney (Cristela Alonzo) spars with her white co-worker (Andrew Leeds).
  • How to Get Away with Murder: Too many to count! Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) is married to Sam Keating (Tom Verica). Law student Connor Walsh dates Oliver Ricamora (Jack Falahee). Law student Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) dates Kan (Arjun Gupta). And main character/audience-surrogate Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) sleeps with Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay).
  • Selfie: Marketing guru Henry Higgs (John Cho) tries to reform Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan).

CBS: 0 shows/0 couples

No interracial couples from this network this year.

Fox: 0 shows/0 couples

Same as CBS.

NBC: 1 show/1 couple

  • The Slap: Hector Apostolou (Peter Sarsgaard) is in an interracial marriage with Aisha (Thandie Newton).

 

Looks like a lot, right? Check back tomorrow for Part 2 where I’ll look at the actual numbers!

Anal Sex on Broadcast TV: “How to Get Away With Murder” and “The Mindy Project”

Danny and Mindy, "The Mindy Project"

Danny and Mindy, “The Mindy Project”

Sex on TV has always been shrouded by the censors. But there’s proof that sexual depictions are finally loosening up–especially with anal sex.

HBO has already tread this territory, with “Entourage” in its seventh season in 2010. Then it blew the door open with the “Girls” pilot in 2012, with Lena Dunham getting anally penetrated by her boyfriend.

Finally, broadcast TV is finally getting on that train. We’ve seen two such depictions in recent weeks.

On ABC, the “How To Get Away With Murder” pilot, which aired on Sept. 25th, showed first-year law student Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) seducing IT guy Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) to get information about Oliver’s company. We don’t see any penetration, but when Connor flips Oliver over onto his stomach, we know what’s going down.

On Fox, “The Mindy Project” third season’s fourth episode shows couple Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and Danny (Chris Messina) very comfortable in their relationship–so much so that Danny accidentally goes in the back door. Played for laughs, Danny simply says, “I slipped.”

The season’s just getting started, so hopefully we’ll see more sexual adventures from these and other shows very soon!