The rise of streaming platforms and the corresponding abundance of titles have led the industry to recycle hit movies and series to captivate new audiences. One of the most common recipes is that of swapping the original’s male protagonists for women, with examples galore including “Fuller House”, “L.A.’s Finest” and “Van Helsing”.
According to a report from TV research firm Glance, More Than 10,600 New TV Series Launched globally in 2019. About 500 of these only in the United States. Faced with this overwhelming number of premieres, the television industry increasingly relies on new versions of iconic titles from the past, prequels, sequels, and remakes that at a minimum, are guaranteed the catch the attention of audiences. Based on this premise, if the majority of these movies and series featured male protagonists in the past, what better way to recycle a story than to place a woman at the helm?
Five years ago, Netflix announced the resurrection of “Full House”, revamped with the title of “Fuller House” (2016-2020). With all the original cast, except for the Olsen twins, the new comedy literally repeated the starting point of the original. So D.J. Tanner-Fuller, veterinarian and recently widowed mother of three, returns to the family home with her sister, Stephanie Tanner, and her best friend, Kimmy Gibbler to raise their offspring together. Rounding out the cast are the girls’ original widower and father, Danny Tanner, his brother, Uncle Joey, his friend, Uncle Jesse (John Stamos), and the latter’s wife, Rebecca.
On July 17, Netflix launched “Cursed”, a revision of the Arthurian legend narrated through the eyes of Nimue, a young woman with a mysterious gift destined to become the powerful and tragic Lady of the Lake. The protagonist of “13 Reasons Why”, Katherine Langford, plays this young rebel, while Devon Terrell, an American-Australian actor known for his role as the young Barack Obama in the biopic “Barry”, plays a mercenary Arthur.
Along these lines, “L.A.’s Finest”, whose first season is available on Sky and Movistar +, adds racial diversity to the female cast. African American actress Gabrielle Union and American actress of Latin origin Jessica Alba star in this series, an offshoot of the “Bad Boys” franchise. The story is centered on Union’s character from “Bad Boys II” (2003), Syd Burnett, Will Smith’s girlfriend and Martin Lawrence’s sister. Almost two decades later, Syd is now a quick-tempered police lieutenant working with partner Nancy McKenna, Alba’s character and a working mom with a dark past.
Children’s series are also no strangers to this trend as seen by “Girl Meets World” (2014-2017, Disney Channel), a spinoff of, you guessed it, “Boy Meets World” (1993-2000, ABC) in which the leading character is Cory’s daughter (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel), and now available on Disney +.
Syfy, meanwhile, has renewed for a fifth and final season of “Van Helsing”, a drama headed up by the famous vampire hunter’s heiress Vanessa Van Helsing, and which has just released the fourth season of “Wynonna Earp”, a supernatural horror weird western starring the great-great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Wyatt Earp. Both series are available on Netflix.
However, the trend has been met with mixed result on the big screen, a fact made patent by the failure of “Ghostbusters” (2016) and the triumph of “Wonder Woman” (2017), which after raising 800 grossing over 800 million dollars at the box office, have set out to repeat the feat this summer with “Wonder Woman 1984” (2020). That is, apart from “Ocean’s 8” (2018), the fourth installment in the franchise starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and Rihanna.
The success among critics and audiences of series starring women like “Orange Is the New Black”, “Big Little Lies” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”, the emergence of movements such as #MeToo and the industry’s interest in mitigating risk in an already saturated market, have made these feminine reviews a valuable, but not infallible recipe for success. Other examples include projects that, for the time being, haven’t quite taken off. One such case is the sequel to “Kung Fu”, only this time starring the granddaughter of the character played by David Carradine. Or a remake of “The Greatest American Hero”, this time featuring an Indian American heroine.
But for the time being, we will have to be content with series like “Ratched”, a prequel to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” based on the evil nurse of the title and created by Ryan Murphy for Netflix; and “Clarice”, sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs” for NBC which narrates the tale of Clarice Starling’s pursuit of serial killers and sexual predators in Washington.