I recently wrote a guide to original, female-led movies to look out for this spring and summer. Well, here's your guide to original, female-led television programs to look out for during the next few months.
Black Box, created by Amy Holden Jones
Starring: Kelly Reilly, Vanessa Redgrave
First episode to debut: April 24 (ABC)
Plot: Elizabeth Black (Reilly) is a famous neurologist working at a famous (fictional) clinic. However, she has a secret: she is bipolar, and the only person in her life who knows is her psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hartramph (Redgrave). The show is inspired by the personal experiences of Holden Jones, whose father was a doctor with bipolar disorder, as well as the memoir The Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychologist with bipolar disorder who spent years studying the disease.
Notes: When I first started getting barraged with promos for Black Box (full disclosure — I work for an ABC affiliate), I dismissed the premise as kind of hokey, if only because as someone who suffers from mental illness myself, I thought the show would get it all wrong. However, knowing that the show is based on the real-life experiences of bipolar medical professionals makes me optimistic.
Labyrinth, based on the British novel of the same name by Kate Mosse
Starring: Jessica Brown-Findlay, Vanessa Kirby
First episode to debut: May 22 (CW)
Plot: In this two-part mini series, a medieval French woman (Brown-Findlay) and a modern French woman (Kirby) are united across centuries by their search for the mythical Holy Grail. Filmed on location in the historical French town of Carcassonne, the show will alternate between medieval and contemporary settings. The show is being promoted as a "companion piece" to the CW show Reign.
Notes: This sounds like a super interesting take on the Holy Grail myth, and it just happens to star two women. To my Canadian readers, if this mini series sounds familiar, it's because it already ran in your country in late 2012.
Extant, created by Mickey Fisher
Starring: Halle Berry, Goran Visnjic
First episode to debut: July 2 (CBS)
Plot: Molly Watts (Berry) is an American astronaut who just returned from a year-long space mission and must learn to reconnect with her family. Along the way, her experiences will change the course of human history.
Notes: Details about this show have been kept ridiculously under wraps, but with Steven Spielberg as the executive producer and Berry as the star, it has a serious pedigree. Also, a sci-fi TV show starring a woman of color doesn't come along everyday.
Image via indiewire.com.
Olive Kitteridge, based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth Strout
Starring: McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Murray (yes, that Bill Murray).
First episode to debut: late 2014 (HBO)
Plot: In this mini-series, Olive Kitteridge (McDormand) is a older math teacher and the moral center of a deceptively calm Maine town rife with "illicit affairs, crime and tragedy." The novel on which the mini-series is based won the Pulitzer Prize, and the book was optioned for TV rights before it was even published.
Notes: I refuse to believe that Frances "Marge Gunderson" McDormand can do any wrong.