Worst: Big Scary Lesbians. NBC has two pilots where plots appear to be motivated by the presence of outsized, aggressive lesbians. After her lovely work on Glee, Dot Jones deserves far better than to be cast as a butch lesbian who sexually harasses Laura Prepon while they’re both in lockup on Are You There, Chelsea? And the heavy lesbian contractor who gets passed over in favor of a hottie love interest for the main character on Bent manages to simultaneously reinforce stereotypes about lesbians, and about women and home improvement.
Best: Support for Working Mothers. Amanda Peet mentioned at the Bent panel that NBC had been wonderful about accommodating and supporting her being a working mother during production of the show. Debra Messing says of her character on Smash, “The hero’s a woman who is very passionate about her creative life and needs that part of her life fulfilled, but also is a proud mother who has that home life and wants that part of her life fulfilled. The way Theresa writes, there’s such richness.” Not that we need aggressive emphasis of characters HAVING IT ALL constantly, but it’s nice to hear that the network practices off-set some of the better things it preaches on-screen.
Worst: Uncertainty. Bob Greenblatt doesn’t know when Community‘s coming back. No one knows when Awake will air. Scheduling’s not easy, we know, but stop torturing us here.
Meh: Alcohol: It sounds like the drinking on Are You There, Chelsea? will get tired quickly, but J.B. Smoove as an addict in recovery? That could be intriguing territory. Television’s got a lot of serious drinkers, but fewer people showing us what it’s like to live in a world where most people treat drinking as if it ranges from no big deal to the linchpin of their social lives.
Best: A lack of sniping. NBC may have to fight its way back to the top, but the network seems aware that it’s not close enough to its rivals to tear them down. The folks behind Smash acknowledge that Glee opened the door without slagging anything they don’t like about it. Bob Greenblatt was blunt about the network’s need to find its own way without complaining that his rivals are being wrongly rewarded for less risky programming. When The Voice criticized its rivals, it was on substance and format, which is fair game. NBC’s biggest asset is the fact that people want to like it. It’s clear they have no intention of relinquishing it.