If you haven’t already heard, The CW is currently developing a new project with Mila Kunis as the executive producer. The drama is called Meridian Hills and stars a group of women fighting for equality at the height of the feminist movement in the 70s.
As a feminist, this is a topic I would love to see more often in the media, especially if feminism is portrayed positively for once. A show about the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the feminist civil rights movement could prove especially important and relevant in these political times when women are forced to stand up for things the feminist movement fought for 40 years ago. The only question is: Do we trust Mila and The CW to do the feminist movement justice in Meridian Hills?
Despite the lack of details about the show that have yet to be released, the media and feminist communities alike are already buzzing with predictions, excitement and of course critiques. Before we judge too quickly, let’s learn more about Mila, the show and The CW.
The Show: Meridian Hills
The official pitch for Meridian Hills shows awesome potential for empowering moments of sisterhood: “Set in a boozy Midwest country club circa 1972, when the push for the Equal Rights Amendment was just beginning, a young, newly married woman joins the Junior League, discovering an eclectic group of other young women who become unlikely allies in her quest to change the system.”
Besides Kunis, others working on the show include Chris Keyser (Party of Five co-creator), Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (producers of Two and a Half Men), and Sydney Sidner as the writer and co-producer. It’s also been noted that Kunis herself isn’t expected to have a role in the show.
Background on the ERA: The show’s plot focuses around the women supporting the ERA and could be a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about the history of the women’s liberation movement as well as celebrate the progress that was made to help it continue. The ERA was drafted as a constitutional amendment in 1923 by Alice Paul, a famous suffragist, and called to end institutionalized and legal discrimination based on gender or sex.
For decades feminists pushed the amendment through Congressional committees and in 1972 a version of the amendment passed in the Senate. In the end, the ERA failed to be ratified by enough states to pass as a new constitutional amendment. Although not all women supported the ERA for various reasons, it was a time of hope and passion for feminists around the country.
The Network Behind the Show: The CW
Meridian Hills is Kunis’ first producing gig and The CW’s second flashback series – the other is a prequel to Sex and the City set in the 80s. Personally, I have been unimpressed with The CW’s past record of shows. However, their long list of female-centric shows of the past, present and future show a glimmer of potential. (Upcoming shows include The Carrie Diaries, Alice in Wonderland, Wonder Woman, and more.)
The Actress Turned Producer: Mila Kunis
Funny, talented, and hard-working, it’s easy to see how a beautiful girl like Mila Kunis has become a hit in Hollywood. Just watching That 70’s Show, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Black Swan are enough for me to have become a fan.
Despite being known for her good looks, Mila objects to being praised on physical attraction alone. “The bottom line is if you’re an attractive female in this industry, people take you as just that: attractive.”
As she said this, most readers brushed her off because of her clothes (or rather her lack of clothing) in the featured interview. While I admit, that isn’t the best way to get your message across, let’s remember that slut shaming (aka judging and discriminating based on clothing choices) is never okay. I’m willing to give her a chance to show us she can be more than just a pretty face in the industry.
Critiques and Hopes for a Feminist TV Show
Some bloggers worry the show will sacrifice historical accuracy for cute girls in skimpy 70s outfits. Others speculate that she won’t be taken seriously for the similar reasons involving her personal choices. There’s also the possibility that The CW will play a role in sexualizing the women and playing down their historical importance.
Some more positive predictions see Meridian Hills as an opportunity for Kunis to show off her intelligence instead of her looks. Either way, it’s the first I’ve heard of a mainstream show dealing with feminism so directly, which is definitely a step in the right direction. It’s also a chance for feminists to be portrayed in a positive way. It’s an opportunity to show that feminists aren’t the stereotypical man-hating, bra-burning hippies that the media loves to rely on. We can only wait and hope Meridian Hills lives up to its potential to inspire and empower young female audiences.