Despite much hand-wringing about the state of women and television, one person doesn't seem too worried—and she should know better than almost anybody. Here's what Amy Poehler had to say about television's depiction of women in an interview with Ariel Levy during this week's New Yorker Festival:
"I think films are kind of catching up in a way to where television has been for a long time. Television is still, in my opinion, the best place for female characters. I'm so down with TV right now. Everything I watch is on TV and I love everything on TV and I think most TV shows are better than movies—there, I said it."
Well said, as usual. So what is Poehler watching these days? Apparently her favorite shows are Mad Men, Hoarders, and Breaking Bad. There is something incredibly wonderful about the fact that Amy Poehler loves Hoarders, but it was not always so. Back in March of this year she had this to say about why she doesn't watch it:
"I can't because I find most times the hoarders are so unlikable. I need my crazy, reality TV people to be people I can root for. I find the hoarders are so unappreciative of the people cleaning up their stuff that it makes me angry."
She must have come around—probably in the way we all did: by watching it in spite of ourselves one night when there was absolutely nothing else on and then becoming slowly addicted even though we kind of hated it but now we also love it.
Anyway, back to women in television! Let us turn to Poehler's own woman on television, Leslie Knope, her hilarious and charming character on Parks and Recreation. During the interview, Levy described Knope as as "her favorite feminist on TV." Poehler admits she identifies with her chipper approach to life:
"I don't think believing one person can make a difference, or change is going to come, means that you're silly or that you're uninformed."
That may speak more to Knope as an idealist than as a feminist, but it doesn't really matter because what Poehler does so well is play Knope as a well-rounded person, not as some archetype. Of course there are plenty of issues that remain in terms of opportunities for women in the business of writing and making television, but if you take TV at it's most basic level—what the viewer sees—Poehler makes a good point: there are definitely plenty of great female characters represented. Maybe not on Hoarders exactly, but definitely on Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Amy Poehler: Why Television is Good for Women [New Yorker]