Lady Problems is a weekly column that looks at how the entertainment industry — and its corresponding culture and constituents — is treating women in a given week. (Hint: It will almost always be “poorly.”) Every Thursday we’ll review the week’s most significant woman-centric conflicts, then provide a brilliant solution to each problem that nobody in Hollywood will ever listen to or enforce.
The Lady Problem: Late last week, FiveThirtyEight's Walt Hickey published a long piece that looked into the IMDb ratings of TV shows aimed at women — specifically, why almost all of the ratings are much lower than those of male-centric TV shows. By way of example, Hickey points to Sex and the City, a series that has seven Emmys, a "suite" of Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards, and ran for six seasons on HBO, and is, objectively, the fucking best. Its overall rating on IMDb, though, is a 7/10, which is below average for an English-language television series. As Hickey puts it, "So why did a show roundly considered seminal in the now ubiquitous genre of driven-New York-women-make-a-go-of-it programming score so low? Yeah, it’s men." Of course it's men. "It's men" is literally the answer to everything. "Why am I pregnant when I don't want to be?" "It's men." "Why are we at war?" "It's men." "Why are sports bars?" "It's men."
Hickey titles his piece, "Men Are Sabotaging the Online Reviews of TV Shows Aimed at Women," a sentence that would be labeled as alarmist and paranoid were it written by a woman. He explains, "When you rely on the wisdom of the crowd on the internet, you risk relying on the opinion of mostly men. Seventy percent of IMDb TV show raters are men, according to my analysis, and that results in shows with predominantly female audiences getting screwed."
While there are certainly shows that appeal to both sexes — Game of Thrones, The Wire, Breaking Bad — there are, unsurprisingly, dozens of shows that demonstrate a massive disconnect in taste and content. Men prefer sports, video game web series (...OK), science fiction, cartoons, and that thing where they watch a game and are like, "Yeah, we played great out there," but are not actually on any professional sports teams. Women prefer shows from the CW and Freeform, which are historically networks that allow women to be onscreen for more than 14 seconds while also wearing clothing. This separation would be fine if, as Hickey puts it, "men didn’t feel compelled to crap on shows that plainly aren’t aimed at them."
Hickey gets deep into the math of it all in his piece, and as a woman, I cannot accurately convey or explain this math to you. But essentially, what he demonstrates is that rather than staying in their lanes — watching and critiquing cartoons about athletes masturbating in space — the men of the Internet (which is to say, men) feel the need to shit all over shows that aren't designed for or aimed at them, purposefully tanking these shows' online ratings and making it less likely that networks will continue to produce similar content.
The Solution: Here are a few of the shows rated extremely well by men on IMDb, shows that I didn't know existed until this very moment: The Angry Video Game Nerd, Silver Surfer, Playmakers, Spawn, Initial D, Godzilla The Series. Seeing as we're ovaries-deep in an IMDb War, the only way to retaliate is to gather the women of the Internet and tank the IMDb ratings of these series without ever having seen them. Suck MY Initial D, male IMDb commenters. When that's done, we'll Clockwork Orange every man on earth with our Sex and the City DVDs. By the end of 2016, every male human will be wandering the streets, bumping haphazardly into one another, chewing on broken Manolos, shrieking, "I couldn't help but wonder!!!!"
The Lady Problem: Because Hollywood is a postapocalyptic hellscape where the only currency is youth and the only other currency is blowing executives, there are only a handful of working actresses over the age of 25. Two of them — two out of, I don't know, three — are Helen Hunt and Jodie Foster. Or so we THOUGHT. This week, a Starbucks employee finally confirmed what I've suspected for years: They're the same person.
Thank you, Starbucks, for revealing the truth behind this insidious conspiracy. I owe you a coffee. I knew there was no conceivable way that there was enough movie work available for two women — both blonde, both women, both blonde. I knew Hollywood would not permit two blonde actresses to appear in separate films, build separate careers, seduce separate decades-older, much-saggier men at the same time. I knew that, back in the '90s, Harvey Weinstein locked Jodie Foster and Helen Hunt in a padded room (the room that would eventually compel Foster to make Panic Room) and instructed them to fight to the death. I knew that neither actress protested, that both recognized there was only room enough for one. I knew that Foster emerged victorious, because she has sharper teeth. I knew that Hunt's last words were, "I'm not mad about you." Anyway, R.I.P., Holly Hunter.
The Solution: Clearly, we need to eliminate all lookalike actresses over 25, so that the ones who are left can obtain as much work as an average male actor. Good-bye, Bryce Dallas Howard; give your belongings to Jessica Chastain. Au revoir, Alicia Vikander; leave your leftover Swedish fish for Natalie Portman. Time to bid life adieu, Tilda Swinton; it's Ariana Grande's turn to shine.