Two of the women on CBS show Criminal Minds have either been eliminated or had their hours reduced. And fans are crying sexism.
According to Nellie Andreeva at Deadline Hollywood Daily:
I'm told the option of series regular A.J. Cook has not been picked up and co-star Paget Brewster is being made an offer to stay for only a reduced number of episodes next season, leaving fan favorite Kristen Vangsness as the only remaining full-time female cast member.
CBS later hastily had someone tell Andreeva that this was "creative" and not financial, and that "A new regular female cast member will be brought in sometime next season to fill the void that will be left by Cook's departure." How convenient that they are all so interchangeable.
Among the many emails we've received protesting CBS's decisions was this one:
There are so few positive female influences on television already and, lately, it seems like they're fewer everyday, especially on CBS. The characters of Cook and Brewster were extremely good role models who demonstrated that women can not only have successful careers, but they can succeed in male-centric fields like the FBI; they also showed that women don't need to rely on men to take care of them.
Criminal Minds is already male-dominated, with four of the seven main characters being male and those four getting the majority of the screentime - and none of those men were in any danger of losing their spot on the show when this decision was made while they're cutting two of the women.
There's even a petition with over 19,000 signatures. Whatever CBS's motivations were, the sheer fury that this decision alone is a sign of how badly viewers want strong roles for women on television — and how rare they seem to be, at least on networks.