Our Onscreen Mirror:
Women Past Midlife in Movies and Television

The motto of Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in the Media is “If She Can See It, She Can Be It.” Davis believes that when people see characters like themselves in powerful roles onscreen, it empowers them in real life. The converse may also be true: When people are invisible in the media, their importance is deemphasized in society. Davis’ proposal to her peers in the industry had two steps.

Step One: Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names.

Step Two is, when describing a crowd scene, write in the script, ‘A crowd gathers, which is half female.’

To which we might add another step: Because about 20% of the women in the US are 65 or older, when casting women, include actresses over 65.

Movies & Shows 1
Stella Fosse

Commander in Chief

Geena Davis stars as President Mackenzie Allen, a Republican Vice President who succeeds after the death of President Teddy Bridges. While this show’s ratings fell

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Movies & Shows 2
Stella Fosse

The Good Wife

This long-running series was inspired by stories of wives standing by their disgraced husbands. Set in a defense law firm, the series features strong women

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Movies & Shows 3
Stella Fosse

Golden Girls

This show and the later Hot in Cleveland are two good excuses to watch Betty White do her sexy-old-lady thing. The rest of the Golden

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Movies & Shows 4
Stella Fosse

Frankie and Gracie

Yes, this is the one to see, complete with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as reluctant housemates after their law partner husbands reveal their long-time

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Movies & Shows 6
Stella Fosse

Mamma Mia

The luminous Meryl Streep is this film’s true center, as her three on-screen loves can attest. Streep plays Donna, a single mom who owns an

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