TV Surf Report: Women Characters Rule Development Season


Santa Monica, CA — (Update, Dec. 20, 2015) —  Female Characters drive Television as evidenced by Super Girl on CBS, Quantico on ABC, Blindspot on NBC, and Empire on Fox, to name a few.

Critics are calling Netflix’s Jessica Jones the best new show on TV, and it’s an adaptation of a Marvel comic which is part of a greater universe to be explored in another series, The Defenders.  Moreover, the lead character isn’t looking to save the World.  She’s more concerned with her Neighborhood.  Smaller stakes.  More compelling Storytelling.  (Heads up, Super Girl writers!)

This season, some of the projects in development are original ideas, however, most fall in the following categories:

  • American re-makes of Foreign series (UK, Austria, Colombia)
  • Adaptations (reality series, web series, popular films, books, songs)
  • Re-boots of classic series
  • Gender flipping of roles once played by Men.

Well-known women Actors & Writers are shepherding these projects, too: Shonda Rhimes, Felicity Huffman, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mila Kunis, Olivia Munn, Julie Bowen, Lena Dunham, Stephanie Meyer, Tina Fey, Lynda LaPlante, Dolly Parton, and Eva Longoria.

And the lead characters are interesting prototypes which include: Nuns! Cancer Victims! Plus-Sized Ballet Dancers! Animated Bandits! District Attorneys! Food Critics! Royal Spies! Sportcasters! Pro Baseballers! And yes, a few of ’em have super powers.

ABC, The CW and NBC, overwhelmingly, lead the Networks (and other Buyers) in female-centric script development:


  • Guilt at ABC Family (aka, Freeform) centers on an American student in London who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her roommate.  Echoes of Amanda Knox’s real-life story.  Ordered to series.
  • Famous in Love at ABC Family is an adaptation of Rebecca Serle’s romantic novel about a college student who gets her big break starring in a Hollywood blockbuster.  Ordered to pilot starring Bella Thorne.
  • Kill Jill is a dark comedy at ABC from actress Patricia Heaton about a small-town girl who moves to the West Coast and becomes the assistant to a glamorous female tycoon who literally has everything…including a plot against her life.
  • Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a comedy adapted from Jenny Lawson’s book about a woman who returns to her Texas hometown and eccentric family.
  • Untitled Bronx Convent Project at ABC from Shonda Rhimes features an ensemble of Catholic nuns whose convent is rocked by the arrival of three young novices.
  • Untitled Cancer’s In Remission Comedy at ABC tells the story of a cancer victim who goes into remission after she burns all her bridges, forcing her to move in with her estranged sister.
  • Big Ballet Project at ABC is a dramedy adaptation of a UK reality show about plus-sized aspiring ballet dancers.
  • Downward Dog at ABC is a comedy that originated as a web series about a woman and her dog.  Script ordered to pilot. Allison Tolman stars.
  • Outnumbered at ABC is a comedy centering on a woman in a male-dominated workplace.
  • Fantasy Island at ABC is a re-boot of the Aaron Spelling cheesy classic except Mr. Roarke, the host for the fantasies, is now a Lady.  No word on Tattoo.
  • Braunschlag at ABC is an adaptation of the Austrian comedy about a small-town mayor who fakes a miracle.
  • The Hustle at ABC is a comedy from Sean Combs that centers on a small-town girl who becomes the assistant to a street-wise billionaire.
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding at ABC is a sequel that picks up where the Julia Roberts-starring film left off as a Food Critic in NYC and her gay best friend sort through Life.


  • Black Stiletto at ABC is an adaptation of the Raymond Benson novels about a young woman who becomes a modern-day hero.  Mila Kunis executive produces.
  • House of Moore at ABC is a darkly comedic one-hour led by Felicity Huffman as the head of a Fashion World family.
  • Wing Person at ABC is a comedy about a Lesbian lothario and her straight male BF.
  • Murder Town at ABC stars Jada Pinkett-Smith as Delaware’s first black DA.
  • Untitled Kudrow/Seacrest Comedy at ABC centers on four women in their 40s who feel irrelevant and seek to change that.  Lisa Kudrow & Ryan Seacrest exec produce.
  • M.I.-Zero at CBS is a one-hour drama about a female Royal spy a la Kingsman and Alias.
  • Adult Children at CBS is a comedy about a 30-something woman whose life is upended when her Dad moves in with her.
  • Nancy Drew at CBS is a contemporary re-imagining of Nancy as an NYPD detective in her 30s.  Apologies to author Carolyn Keene as this sounds terrible and ill-fated.
  • Moreau at CBS is inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel and centers on a female doctor who conducts experiments in a privately funded island hospital.
  • Gloria Allred Project at CBS is a one-hour drama based on Allred’s high-profile legal career as a defense attorney.


  • Little Women at The CW is a gritty version of Louisa May Alcott’s novel about four sisters who now live in Philadelphia.  Oh, Beth….
  • Tempest at The CW is a sci-fi drama about a young woman living aboard a spaceship secretly powered by slaves.
  • Untitled Sportscaster Drama at The CW is a period ensemble featuring the first female sportscaster in the ’70s executive produced by Olivia Munn.
  • The Beautiful Bureaucrat at The CW is an adaptation of Helen Phillips’ novel about a female data entry clerk who uncovers nefarious doings at her company.  Neal Baer executive produces.
  • Star at Fox is a Lee Daniels-produced pilot about a TLC-esque girl trio in Atlanta.  Queen Latifah, Benjamin Bratt cast in the pilot.
  • Untitled Lady CIA Drama at Fox centers on a Condy Rice-type who deals with high-priority targets.
  • Untitled Dance Drama at Fox is Ballet Dancer Misty Copeland’s stories of Fame set in a ballet company.
  • Hypochondriac at Fox is an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela, La Hipocondriaca, about a woman who receives a fatal diagnosis then sets about to live her life.  Julie Bowen executive produces.
  • Untitled Pro Baseball Drama at Fox centers on the first woman in professional baseball.
  • Warrior at Fox is a drama re-developed after not making the cut at NBC and centers on a broken woman who works undercover with a martial arts master to bring down an international crime lord.
  • Cassius & Clay at FX is an animated pilot about two female bandits in a futuristic post-apocalyptic America.  Susan Sarandon, Jeffrey Tambor among the voice talent.
  • Saleswoman at HBO is a drama about the creator of a Tupperware-like home party system.
  • Max at HBO is a period comedy set at a magazine in 1963 during the first wave of Feminism.  Lena Dunham directs and executive produces.
  • Are Men Necessary? at HBO stars Whitney Cummings in this comedy pilot based on Maureen Dowd’s book about modern relationships.
  • Rook at Hulu is a one-hour drama from Stephanie Meyer about a woman with super powers who works for a British spy agency.
  • Tennison at ITV is a prequel to Prime Suspect that features a young Jane Tennison in the ’70s.  Luckily, Lynda LaPlante scripts.
  • Victoria at ITV is an 8-episode miniseries starring Jenna Coleman in this latest depiction of the British monarch’s early life.
  • Marcella at ITV is a crime drama set in contempo London starring Anna Friel and Laura Carmichael.
  • Greenleaf at OWN is a mega-church drama from Craig Wright that stars Lynn Whitfield.  Series order.
  • Icon at NBC is a drama from Anne Heche and Cindy Crawford about, what else, models in the ’70s/’80s.
  • The Good Place at NBC is a series order for Mike Schur’s comedy about a woman who tries to be good.
  • Untitled Tina Fey Comedy at NBC centers on a mother who interns at her daughter’s workplace, a cable news company.
  • Jolene at NBC is the 2nd Dolly Parton song adaptation telefilm.  Here,  a woman implores another woman not to steal her husband.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess at NBC  has a lot of attention on writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100, Lost).  Fingers crossed for lots of Greek mythology.
  • Brides at NBC is a family drama centering on the three brides of Dracula in Manhattan.  Greg Berlanti exec produces what could be the worst idea this season!
  • Musical Funeral Home at NBC is a drama based on the Boyd Funeral Home in South Central LA and centers on a mother/daughter.
  • Texas Ranger Comedy at NBC is executive produced by Eva Longoria and centers on a lady Texas Ranger.  I assume she’s a cop and not a pro baseballer.
  • Bonita & Mechelle at NBC is a female buddy comedy.  Eva Longoria produces.
  • Smoke Sex Magic at NBC is a drama about two sisters who inherit their mother’s restaurant only to discover her secret to success was Black Magic.
  • Gilmore Girls at Netflix returns us to Stars Hollow for four 90-minute episodes. Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel reprise.
  • Van Helsing at SyFy is an acquisition of a 13-episode series from Neil LaBute whose take on the vampire hunter flips the gender and generation by introducing Vanessa Van Helsing.  Ugh.
  • Good Behavior at TNT has a series order for this adaptation of Blake Crouch’s Letty Dobesh series to star Michelle Dockery as a thief/con artist living on the edge.

About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
This entry was posted in TV Surf Report and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to TV Surf Report: Women Characters Rule Development Season

  1. Valerie says:

    Fabulous list! But don’t forget The CW’s pilot script order that is a purposeful subversion of this trend: BOB THE VALKYRIE :”Every generation faces a rising tide of evil, adversary of the legendary Valkyries — three women chosen by fate to defend humanity against this evil. This generation is no different — only this time, fate accidentally chooses a male when selecting its Valkyries. Now Bob, a chauvinistic “dude-bro,” must learn to face darkness and fight evil…all while getting in touch with his feminine side.” Shane Brennan (NCIS: LOS ANGELES) produces for CBS Studios and writer/executive producer Matt Greenberg.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s