Women viewers need not apply

On the DVD extras for Firefly, a Fox sci-fi series that was troubled from the get-go and cancelled after 15 episodes, Chris Buchanan (president of Mutant Enemy, creator Joss Whedon’s production company) said:

“The initial results – they made the network nervous. The men didn’t respond as strongly as they thought they would, and the women responded more strongly.”

Do I really need to say anything else here?


  1. Eva says

    Grrr is right. This is the same Farscape affliction–it garnered an audience of women equal to its male audience. Fortunately, it was on a small start up network so it got 4 years. Firefly had the misfortune of being stuck on Fox.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m working on an article about the whole issue of TV only seeking/wanting male viewers. As far as I can tell, it’s not about thinking young men spend more money or any of that – it’s that they spend more indiscriminately than other groups.

    Bah. I’ll save the ranting for the article.

  3. SunlessNick says

    Actively wanting not to have a female audience for an action/SF show? That’s a cut beyond even the usual level of sexism. Were they afraid that if it got out that the female fanbase was large it would drive male fans away, or so stuck on a certain demographic model as to get rid of a show that might make them reanalyse it?

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    I never understood this, and the guy didn’t elaborate. But in my more recent article where I quote the Village Voice article, it’s apparent that they can’t charge as much for the ad slots if the show has female viewers, so that’s just not acceptable to them.

    Of course, the reason they charge more for men is that the sponsors are convinced male consumers are worth more. Who’s spreading that idea, and on what evidence are they justifying it given the reports that women direct 80% of household purchases, whether they control the money directly or not?

  5. sbg says

    I was going to ask if maybe it was all in my head that women in households are the ones more likely to have control of the money. I mean, my father was the only one earning a wage, and yet it was my mother who balanced the checkbook, shopped and paid the bills. She decided what to buy, and if it were a big ticket item, that decision was made jointly. I just remember that on occasions my father needed to spend money, he’d have to get the check from my mom.

    I’m sure that’s not always the case, of course. It just seems more likely to me based on my own experience.

    And I don’t even want to talk about how women are still considered less valuable than men all across the board. The wage gap might be shrinking, as another example, but it’s still there.

  6. Eva says

    Most of the women I know earn the same or more than their husbands and also control the check book, and also have the major say in household purchases. I’m not sure why shows continue to cater to men.

    I will say, however, that television is much more balanced towards women than movies are. At least there are shows that feature women in adult relationships on many levels, and in various roles, as opposed to movies that feature 20-30 something women, all very attractive, playing the girlfriend/wife of either an old man or a loser.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    I also know a lot of women who earn the same as or more than their husbands or live-in boyfriends. And a whole lot of those earning less only earn maybe 10% less.

    I’ve entirely stopped going to movies. Haven’t been to a theater since maybe 2003, and rarely rent movies. It’s just the same crap, different packaging – particularly in terms of the women.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    That’s how I grew up. The wage gap hasn’t shrunk in 20 years, BTW: women have consistently earned 22% less than men since the 80’s, for the same work.

    Before anyone says, “That’s not true, my girlfriend has the same job as I do and earns more” – the 22% gap is overall. In some industries (engineering) women do generally earn the same as men. But overall, in the US, there is a 22% gap for jobs ranging from cashier to CEO.

  9. Eva says

    Before anyone says, “That’s not true, my girlfriend has the same job as I do and earns more” – the 22% gap is overall. In some industries (engineering) women do generally earn the same as men. But overall, in the US, there is a 22% gap for jobs ranging from cashier to CEO.

    I have a friend who was told that the young man in our work group was getting a higher % raise because he had a family to support. Ironically, she has been either the primary breadwinner or sole supporter of her family during most of her marriage.

    In terms of dollars she earned more than the co-employee because she’d been with the company 15 years longer, but that argument was b.s.

    I suspect the men in my office get larger % raises; it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    Yeah, the blind assumption that men have families to support (and women don’t) still permeates the workforce. It was pointed out in the movie “9 to 5” twnty-six years ago, but I still occasionally hear bosses say things like that. It’s pure ignorance, or else misogyny hiding behind a facade of ignorance.

    Conversely, I’ve known some bosses who are fairly aware of their employees’ family situations, and are as likely to be sympathetic to a maternal breadwinner as a paternal one.

    Which of course does nothing for women who need to support themselves and barely make enough because they have a “woman’s job”, nor people who are taking care of elderly relatives – a situation that doesn’t elicit the sympathy it should.

    I wish employers would just stick to your work performance, and leave their PERCEPTIONS of your household expenses outside the door.


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