Netflix’s original series “Jessica Jones” has generated a lot of buzz over its upcoming season before even hitting the screen in 2018. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg revealed that all 13 episodes will feature female directors. The precedent was recently set by female director Ava DuVernay, as she enlisted an entirely female roster for her show “Queen Sugar,” which appears on the Oprah Winfrey Network and has Winfrey listed as one of the producers. The “Jessica Jones” news has garnered a lot of positive feedback, as female directors are grossly underrepresented in the industry. Being such an incredibly popular show on a huge platform like Netflix, this is a step in the right direction toward gender equality in the entertainment industry.
We have seen more shows represent the oftentimes underrepresented on television in the last few years. Hit shows such as “Modern Family” and the Netflix original series “Orange Is the New Black” have changed the landscape by representing both women and the LGBTQ community. These shows contain powerful messages for their viewers and for the public to consider, placing women and the LGBTQ community in prominent roles. These progressions of representation within the entertainment industry should be welcomed with open arms and should drive more shows to do the same. Ultimately, it is because of the continued underrepresentation of women in the entertainment industry that we consider the use of female directors as “groundbreaking.” If we are able to make this news more common, then there will be no need to call it “news” anymore.
The Directors Guild of America reported that during the 2015-2016 television season, female directors were only represented on 17 percent of all episodes, compared to 16 percent from 2014-2015. As an avid television viewer, the gender of the director or anyone working behind the scenes does not affect my perception or opinion of the on-screen product. If every director were to be left anonymous, I don’t think that the public would find any criticism.
“I actually never heard of the news that [“Jessica Jones”] had an all female directors list,” said Gabrielle Rizzo ‘17, an avid watcher of the Netflix show. “If they were to not even release this news, many people, myself included, would not be able to realize that there were female directors.”
It is only because of the precedent that men are represented much more than women in the entertainment industry that this would be newsworthy, which is a problem in itself. If there were more instances of female directors having opportunities such as this one to show their talents, then there would be no need to even release this news. While I believe that viewers will not abandon the show, regardless of who is behind the camera, it is a tremendous step in the right direction that Netflix and Marvel are trying to address the inequality. Our society is progressing and beginning to understand that it should not be unusual for a woman to do the work that men have done for so long.