By Meghan Shaffer
If this past Sunday’s Emmy Awards showed us anything, it’s that it has been a good year for women in television. The standout of the night, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” brought home a total of eight awards, including the big award of the night: Outstanding Drama Series. Elisabeth Moss won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and Holy Cross alumna, Ann Dowd, won her second Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Reed Morano won Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for directing the Hulu show’s first episode, “Offred,” becoming the first woman to win in this category for 22 years. The show also won Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
Hand-in-hand with “The Handmaid’s Tale” was HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” which also brought home eight awards, including Outstanding Limited Series. Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or T.V. Movie and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or T.V. Movie, respectively. Alexander Skarsgard took home an award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or T.V. Movie, and Jean-Marc Vallée won for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special.
When accepting the award for Outstanding Limited Series, Reese Witherspoon, who acted and co-produced alongside Kidman, made a plea for better female representation in television: “Bring women to the front of their own stories, and make them the heroes of their own stories.”
It certainly seems like this is the year that Hollywood is bringing women to the forefront. Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Limited Series, and Outstanding Television Movie were all won by shows revolving around women: “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Veep,” “Big Little Lies,” and “Black Mirror: San Junipero,” respectively. With many hailing this a golden year of television, the fact that these female-driven narratives rose to the front of the pack is a triumph. “The Handmaid’s Tale” was up against new favorites that have had critics raving, such as “Stranger Things,” “This is Us,” and “Westworld.” “Big Little Lies” was up against another HBO powerhouse, “The Night Of.” “Black Mirror: San Junipero” was a favorite that everyone hoped (and many expected) would win and “Veep” has managed to keep audiences hanging around into its seventh season, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her sixth consecutive Emmy for her portrayal of Vice President Selina Meyer. These four vastly different programs show us that audiences crave not only stories about women but stories about powerful women who will not be shoved into the background. “Veep” is entering it’s final season and there has been no word on a Season Two of “Big Little Lies,” but I can only hope that writers and directors continue to push these female-driven narratives in this uncertain time.