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Distributed for Intellect Ltd

Television Antiheroines

Women Behaving Badly in Crime and Prison Drama

With a foreword by Diane Negra and Jorie Lagerwey

Distributed for Intellect Ltd

Television Antiheroines

Women Behaving Badly in Crime and Prison Drama

With a foreword by Diane Negra and Jorie Lagerwey
As television has finally started to create more leading roles for women, the female antiheroine has emerged as a compelling and dynamic character type. Television Antiheroines looks closely at this recent development, exploring the emergence of women characters in roles typically reserved for men, particularly in the male-dominated genre of the crime and prison drama.
The essays collected in Television Antiheroines are divided into four sections or types of characters: mafia women, drug dealers and aberrant mothers, women in prison, and villainesses. Looking specifically at shows such as Gomorrah, Mafiosa, The Wire, The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black, and Antimafia Squad, the contributors explore the role of race and sexuality and focus on how many of the characters transgress traditional ideas about femininity and female identity, such as motherhood. They examine the ways in which bad women are portrayed and how these characters undermine gender expectations and reveal the current challenges by women to social and economic norms. Television Antiheroines will be essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in crime and prison drama and the rising prominence of women in nontraditional roles.

285 pages | 7 x 9 | © 2017

Media Studies

Women's Studies

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"In this second Golden Age of TV, academic attention is focused almost exclusively on the United States. Even in a country like Spain, newspapers dutifully recap each episode of American premium-cable and streaming-service series while ignoring their own local productions. Hence, the importance of Buonanno’s new collection, which tracks its female figures on screens from Italy and France to Australia and Brazil."

Paul Julian Smith | Film Quarterly

“This collection of high-minded studies aims to examine how women have been allowed to travel in the same trajectory (the new 'golden age of television' started by show-runners like David Chase and Vince Gilligan) gave way to equally strong visionaries like Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Orange Is the New Black) and numerous telenovelas in Brazil, Colombia, and New Zealand.”

Christopher John Stevens | Popmatters

"Milly Buonanno’s edited collection of essays not only draws our attention to the contemporary television landscape’s changing typography, but it is also a useful resource for those looking for their next binge-worthy programme. The book’s emphasis on ‘femalecentred forms with a particular focus on the liminality of women associated with criminality’ historicises the range of unconventional portrayals of womanhood in the 21st century, defines these depictions in terms of their antiheroine aspects and investigates some specific international instantiations."

Michael P. Young | Critical Studies in Television

"This is a welcome and well-constructed anthology on the topic of the anti-heroine in contemporary television. Especially impressive is the global scope of the collection, which features discussions of shows from outside of the United States (oftentimes absent from writing on television). . . . Television Antiheroines succeeds." 

Journal of Gender Studies

"The television series examined make for good television and the chapters in this volume make for an interesting read, both individually and taken together. With its unprecedented collective focus on anti-heroines in the business of crime, the edited volume offers critical insights in largely well written articles that will allow readers to discover or perhaps reevaluate how women behaving badly contribute to an expanded realm of possibility for female characters in popular culture."

Claudia Schippert | Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture

"I began this review by querying whether the antiheroine exists; after spending time with Television Antiheroines, and becoming well acquainted with Rosy Abate, Imma Savastano, Sandra Paoli, Carmela Soprano, Carmen van Walraven, Nancy Botwin, Gemma Teller, Mags Bennett, Teresa Mendoza, Big Boo, Nicky Nichols, Livia Marine, Kate Leigh, Tillly Devine, and others, I have no doubt of the socio-cultural richness and transcultural purchase of the TV antiheroine. In identifying a significant new trend in the transnational televisual depiction of gender, power, crime, and identity, Television Antiheroines sets high standards for future feminist media scholarship on female antihero TV."

Tanya Horeck | Feminist Media Studies

"Buonanno’s introduction serves to outline the categorization of the antiheroine. She convincingly highlights the relevance and scholarly importance of considering this figure. . . . The anthology also offers a detailed and considered exploration of the gender roles and sexual identities that female characters pursue, embody, challenge and reimagine. In so doing, each contribution highlights the social challenges faced by women in relation to social and economic norms. . . . [Television Antiheroines] offers an engaging, relevant and timely consideration of transgressive female characters. It highlights the space where these women can be found and points to the boundaries that might be pushed further as representations of femininities in contemporary television are challenged and reimagined."

Katherine Whitehurst | Journal of Popular Television

"Thanks to its cultural approach, Television Antiheroines depicts in an original way the possibilities opened up by ‘bad’ behaviours in mainstream images of femininity. Each chapter analyses characters’ everyday lives, underlining how micropolitics questions conventional gender roles. Such a subversive process is also sustained by the idea that the representation of moral and behavioural contradictions undermines the hegemonic positions still dominant in television series. In doing so, the volume also shows how television can produce alternative identity models for women, thus contributing to a redefinition of current gender paradigms."

Ilaria De Pascalis | European Journal of Women’s Studies

"This vital collection profitably meditates on the intersections of crime studies, feminist and postfeminist studies and television studies, and shines a light on the expanding representational possibilities for women that are taking place in global television production. . . . I suspect that Television Antiheroines will enjoy widespread adoption as a text in a number of university courses for differing constituencies of students. The essays all feature clear and accessible prose and, further, the breadth and array of the texts, and detailed bibliography for each essay, will make the collection interesting for media studies scholars (feminist or otherwise) working on a spectrum of contexts."

Ellen Nerenberg | Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies

"A strong collection of academic scholarship, and is a required purchase for scholars whose research relates to gender roles and female agency, particular in television. The book will undoubtedly serve graduate students and established professionals in the fields of critical, cultural and media studies very well. These 13 essays are highly detailed and effortlessly engaging. Through examination of antiheroines such as The Sopranos’ Carmela Soprano and Weeds’ Nancy Botswin, as well as foreign protagonists such as Penoza’s Carmen Walraven and the Spanish-language La Reina del Sur’s Teresa Mendoza, Television Antiheroines raises intriguing and timely questions regarding feminism and female identity."

Graeme Wilson | Critical Studies in Media Communication

"Written for a wide contemporary readership, the book will be of practical use to students of communication and media studies and must not be overlooked by academic philosophers inasmuch as the authors’ discussions contribute to debates on the ontological and existential structures of human existence."

Elena Fell | European Journal of Communication

"As someone who rooted for Alexis and Sue Ellen as a girl of the 1980s, I am thrilled that Milly Buonanno is helping me relocate my transnational sisterhood in support of antiheroines. This volume embraces the not-so-guilty pleasures of watching women characters who are complicated, multi-layered, transgressive, and kick-ass. Brava!’"

Vicki Mayer, Tulane University, New Orleans

"At last, the antiheroine, in all her flawed ambiguity, takes the limelight in this impressive collection and challenges the male dominance of contemporary television drama. Driven by feminist curiosity, respected television scholar Milly Buonanno has put together a genuinely inter national team to explore the global phenomenon of female characters heading up crime TV genres with roles as criminal bosses and prison top dogs. Essential and enjoy able reading."

Christine Geraghty, University of Glasgow

"Television Antiheroines is a landmark text. It covers a long but rarely highlighted story to be told of female characters who counter the norms of conventional femininity. This generously international volume provides both geographical and historical contours that will enrich the study of television." 

Toby Miller, University of Cardiff; Murdoch University, Perth

Table of Contents


Diane Negra and Jorie Lagerwey

Editor’s Introduction
Milly Buonanno

Part I:             Mafia Women
Chapter 1:       Godmothers in Italian Mafia Story: Or ‘Something Else Besides a Mother’
                        Milly Buonanno
Chapter 2:       Mafiosa, Monstruous Beauty: Power and Loneliness of a Female Mob Lover
                        Barbara Villez
Chapter 3:       Adieu Carmela Soprano! Lessons from the HBO Mobster Wife on TV Female                                Agency and Neo-liberal (Narrative) Power
                        Kim Akass and Janet McCabe

Part II:           Drug Dealers and Aberrant Mothers
Chapter 4:       Paying the Price: Penoza – Combining Motherhood and a Career (in Crime)
                        Joke Hermes
Chapter 5:       ‘Really Good At It’: The Viral Charge of Nancy Botwin in Weeds (and Popular                             Culture’s Anticorps)
                        Elisa Giomi
Chapter 6:       Really Bad Mothers: Manipulative Matriarchs in Sons of Anarchy and Justified
                        Amanda D. Lotz
Chapter 7:       La reina del sur: Teresa Mendoza, a New Telenovela Protagonist
                        Yeidy M. Rivero

Part III:          Women in Prison
Chapter 8:       Blurred Lines: the Queer World of Bad Girls
                        Vicky Ball
Chapter 9:       Top Dogs and Other Freaks: Wentworth and the Re-imaging of Prisoner Cell                                 Block H
                        Sue Turnbull
Chapter 10:     Lesbian Request Approved: Sex, Power and Desire in Orange is the New Black
                        Suzanna Danuta Walters

Part IV:          Villainesses and Anti-antiheroines
Chapter 11:     Women and Criminality in Brazilian Telenovelas: Salve Jorge and Human                          Trafficking
                        Samantha Joyce and Antonio La Pastina
Chapter 12:     ‘Your Turn, Girl’: The (Im)Possibility of African American Antiheroines in The                             Wire
                        Bruce A. Williams and Andrea L. Press
Chapter 13:     Taming Pussytown: How Post-feminism Domesticated Underbelly: Razor
                        Leigh Redhead



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