Yesterday morning at 9am – on a cold and otherwise nondescript Sunday – Channel Ten unveiled the full lineup of 8 shows set to be featured in their upcoming, highly vaunted Pilot Week experiment; a week where programming will be dedicated to showing one episode of each new series, before fan response and ratings metrics are analysed to determined which – if any – of the bunch get picked up for a full series order. Almost immediately, the slate of programs began copping heat from exasperated punters and industry figures because, of the 8 shows included in the announcement, just one single, solitary woman was featured.
The lone representation comes, quite unbelievably, in the already-talked-about Trial By Kyle; the Judge Judy-style grievance-airing trash-fest being used as yet another attempt to make Kyle Sandilands‘ style of muck-raking and exuberant arrogance a viable TV property.
In that, according to the announcement, former Bachelor contestant and real-life criminal lawyer Anna Heinrich will be “assisting” Kyle. So, not a leading star in her own right. An ancillary, supporting role. Therein ends the only mention of a female in Ten’s Pilot Week announcement.
The other programs on the announcement were as follows:
- Dave – a reportedly self-produced sitcom centric on veteran comic Dave O’Neil. No women mentioned.
- Kinne Tonight – the latest attempt at a show for Troy Kinne. No women mentioned.
- Disgrace! – the Sam Dastyari-starring vehicle focusing on the biggest scandals of the week, the announcement of which makes no mention of Roxy Jacenko‘s rumoured role as co-host, and instead focuses on Dastyari and The Chaser‘s involvement. No women mentioned.
- Drunk History – an Australian version of the show that’s done the rounds in the US and the UK, which mentions only Rhys Darby, Stephen Curry, and “tons of other beloved Aussies.” No women mentioned.
- Skit Happens – touted by the network as “our first sketch comedy series in 12 long years!” No names mentioned, let alone women.
- Bring Back… Saturday Night – Rove McManus going back to the variety show format that made him famous. No women mentioned.
- Taboo – adaptation of a Belgium format starring comedian and former radio host Harley Breen, who’ll spend 5 days and nights with “members of a disadvantaged group of society” with the aim of using those experiences to develop a stand-up routine, which he’ll deliver in front of its subjects. No women mentioned.
Industry figures immediately saw right through Ten’s announcement, with personalities like Jane Kennedy and Meshel Laurie expressing exasperated anger.
Oh Look!! How very exciting for all these men!!! And look! … There’s a lady in this picture with the remote control so she can watch all the clever funny men who have the opportunity to pilot their own shows @channelten @Colvick @theheraldsun @DailyMailUK @dailytelegraph pic.twitter.com/amzX7N9EJv
— Jane Kennedy (@Jane_L_Kennedy) July 22, 2018
Here’s the thing. I DO have so many funny men in my life. And the guys in this photo (with the exception of Sam Dastyari) are all funny buggers. I am curious to know if any women were given the opportunity to propose a show ??? I’m also not counting “Co-hosts” btw. X????????
— Jane Kennedy (@Jane_L_Kennedy) July 22, 2018
To be honest babe, I’m over it. Can’t be bothered spending my time and energy begging for a seat at a table where I’m not valued. I put my efforts into other places now.
— Meshel Laurie (@Meshel_Laurie) July 22, 2018
The announcement copped heat elsewhere as well, with other punters tired of Ten promoting something new, only to be delivered variations of the same theme.
— Ange Thompson, Girl Detective (@AngeMaryClaire) July 22, 2018
‘Taboo’ – White man comedian makes jokes about disadvantaged communities he doesn’t belong to while they sit in the audience – I’m sorry I thought that’s what Australian stand-up was already
— Kaitlyn Plyley (@kplyley) July 22, 2018
You know what’d be good? Not treating my industry like it’s a fucking episode of Australian Idol…
— Tosh Greenslade (@ToshGreenslade) July 22, 2018
Ummmm, where are the women?
— Emma Short (@EmLShort) July 22, 2018
Maybe next time, offer more diversity? Then I’d be interested.
— Casey Phoenix (@caseyphoenix) July 22, 2018
It’s 2018 and your 8 new shows are all almost 100% white male centric. Nothing original about that. Channel Ten I was expecting better than this from you. So disappointed. pic.twitter.com/FveFRe8gLu
— Ana Tiwary (@anatiwary) July 22, 2018
Of particular note is Ten’s promise to judge social media reaction in determining which shows to order full series from. In an age where the audience votes with their feet far louder than ever before, removing women from the lineup is a truly, truly baffling decision.
In Pilot Week, Channel Ten had an opportunity to try something new, fresh, and completely different, by increasing the prominent, starring representation of women and POC performers on Australian TV, unearthing new bankable talent in the process in an experiment that would’ve had very few, if any, consequences if it failed.
Instead, it’s an opportunity they’ve squandered by hanging vehicles on the all-too familiar.
It sucks. It sucks tremendously.Image: Getty Images / Bradley Kanaris