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Invisible lives: where are all the older women in film and TV?

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24.09.2021

As a female actor in my mid 50s I’ve never felt more invisible, neither have I felt angrier. There are few parts out there for women my age and as much as there are some decent roles for the big guns – think Frances McDormand in Nomadland, Catherine O'Hara in Schitt’s Creek or Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie – there simply aren’t enough to go around. It’s thoroughly depressing and it feels like it’s getting worse.

Research from 2019 found that older women are often relegated to supporting roles in films – or are consistently portrayed as grumpy, frumpy or senile.

The study analysed representations of older adults, in the top-grossing films of 2019 in Germany, France, the UK and the US – with a specific focus on women aged 50 and over. The study found there weren’t any women over 50 cast in leading roles in 2019’s top films, while two men over 50 were featured as leads. And when older women did appear, they were cast stereotypically.

Another study from 2018 found that only 35% of the top-grossing films from that year featured 10 or more female speaking characters. Compare this to the 82% that had 10 or more male characters in speaking roles.

Similarly, an analysis of over........

© The Conversation


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