A recent study conducted by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film sheds light on the representation of women in streaming services’ original films released in 2022. By analysing more than 1,100 behind-the-scenes credits and over 1,800 on-screen characters across 82 original US films on major streaming platforms, the report reveals an intriguing trend towards women-centred narratives.
The findings demonstrate a significant shift as 49 percent of these films featured female protagonists, while male protagonists were present in only 38 percent of the films. Notable examples like Hulu’s Rosaline and HBO Max’s Kimi offered refreshing perspectives from women’s points of view, highlighting the emergence of diverse stories and voices.
Women-Centric Films On OTT
However, this positive trend was not replicated in high-budget top-grossing films. Merely one-third of the 100 highest-grossing movies in 2022 depicted stories from a woman’s perspective. Even within the realm of streaming films, the majority of characters remained male-dominated.
Behind the scenes, women encountered a distinct underrepresentation in crucial roles. Merely 22 percent of the films had female directors, and the majority lacked any female directors altogether. Furthermore, female cinematographers accounted for a mere 8 percent of the total. This scarcity of women in prominent behind-the-scenes positions had a cascading effect, contributing to a shortage of female writers and other key roles.
Additionally, the study emphasised the limited opportunities available to older women in these films. While women outnumbered men among characters in their 30s, the ratio significantly favoured male characters as the age increased. This perpetuates harmful stereotypes that value women primarily for youth and beauty, while men are esteemed for their accomplishments.
Furthermore, the report highlighted the perpetuation of other stereotypes within these films. Male characters were frequently portrayed with defined occupations and work-related goals, while female characters were often characterised by their marital status and personal-life objectives. Moreover, the representation of women of Latino ethnicity was disproportionately low compared to their population representation.
Streaming services have made considerable progress in featuring women’s stories and perspectives. Nonetheless, achieving gender parity and dismantling stereotypes both on and off the screen require continued efforts. Additionally, there is a need to focus on increasing the representation of other marginalised groups to authentically reflect the diversity of the population.
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