Paper $26.00 ISBN: 9780226816401 Will Publish January 2022
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9780226816357 Will Publish January 2022
E-book $25.99 Available for pre-order. ISBN: 9780226816364 Will Publish January 2022

The New Female Antihero

The Disruptive Women of Twenty-First-Century US Television

Sarah Hagelin and Gillian Silverman

The New Female Antihero

Sarah Hagelin and Gillian Silverman

288 pages | 36 halftones | 6 x 9
Paper $26.00 ISBN: 9780226816401 Will Publish January 2022
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9780226816357 Will Publish January 2022
E-book $25.99 ISBN: 9780226816364 Will Publish January 2022
The New Female Antihero examines the hard-edged spies, ruthless queens, and entitled slackers of twenty-first-century television.
The last ten years have seen a shift in television storytelling toward increasingly complex storylines and characters. In this study, Sarah Hagelin and Gillian Silverman zoom in on a key figure in this transformation: the archetype of the female antihero. Far from the sunny, sincere, plucky persona once demanded of female characters, the new female antihero is often selfish and deeply unlikeable.
In this entertaining and insightful study, Hagelin and Silverman explore the meanings of this profound change in the role of women characters. In the dramas of the new millennium, they show, the female antihero is ambitious, conniving, even murderous; in comedies, she is self-centered, self-sabotaging, and anti-aspirational. Across genres, these female protagonists eschew the part of good girl or role model. In their rejection of social responsibility, female antiheroes thus represent a more profound threat to the status quo than do their male counterparts. From the devious schemers of Game of Thrones, The Americans, Scandal, and Homeland, to the joyful failures of Girls, Broad City, Insecure, and SMILF, female antiheroes register a deep ambivalence about the promises of liberal feminism. They push back against the myth of the modern-day super-woman—she who “has it all”—and in so doing, they give us new ways of imagining women’s lives in contemporary America.
Introduction: The New Female Antihero—The What, the Why, the How

Part 1: Ambition TV

1. The Limits of the Female Antihero in Game of Thrones
2. The Impossibility of the Marriage Plot in The Americans
3. Scandal and the Failure of Postracial Fantasy
4. Homeland and the Rejection of the Domestic Plot

Part 2: Shame TV

5. Feminist Anti-Aspirationalism in Girls
6. Liberation and Whiteness in Broad City
7. The Difference That Race Makes in Insecure
8. Working-Class Identity and Matriarchal Community in SMILF

Review Quotes
Linda Mizejewski, Ohio State University
“If you love television’s bad women more than you should, you’ll love The New Female Antihero, which opens up this topic in exciting and original ways. Sarah Hagelin and Gillian Silverman rethink this edgy character through race as well as gender, upping the stakes on why television’s transgressive women are important. By including the hit comedies Broad City and Girls alongside series about killers and assassins, Hagelin and Silverman reveal the larger implications of these unruly women as threats to traditional femininity. You’ll never watch TV’s difficult women in quite the same way again.”
Diane Negra, University College Dublin
“Hagelin and Silverman adeptly analyze a set of highly regarded, well-watched, and much talked about television series, setting a high standard of originality, soundness, and rigor throughout. It is difficult to write about television as clearly, effectively and efficiently as they do here.”
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