Admit it: pilot season is overwhelming. Everyone who's ever had a thought about making a television show comes out of the woodwork with some new pilot — half of them sound identical to each other and a few sound so far fetched that we already know they'll never make it on television. But in this slew of ideas and casting decisions are a few bright spots: 2014 TV pilots that are promising for women in television.
They may not all make it (in fact, we can guarantee they won't all make it), but they are the pilots to watch out for as we roll further into 2014.
Tina Fey's 'Tooken' Starring Ellie Kemper
One of these things is not like the others and that’s because Tooken has already been picked up for 13 episodes by NBC — that’s how much faith they have in Queen Tina. But there’s more: the show stars Ellie Kemper (yes!) as a woman who escapes from a Doomsday cult. it’s set in Manhattan, run by Fey, and starring a hilarious lady. Who could ask for anything more?
'Queen of Everything' From Zooey Deschanel
She’s so much more than just a pretty face behind a pair of really nice hipster glasses: Zooey Deschanel created the Hello Giggles website and now she’s bringing women into the bro-tastic world of animated series with this evil queen in a “modern day fairy tale world” who discovers being powerful isn’t enough and tries to change her ways.
Greta Gerwig in 'How I Met Your Dad'
When it was first announced that Greta Gerwig would star in the much groaned about How I Met Your Mother spin-off, fans were displeased, but there is a very important silver lining: Gerwig’s series will shoot in New York and she will serve as a producer-writer on the show as well. Another young woman’s voice in the TV writing game? Yes please.
Stephanie Savage's 'Astronaut Wives Club'
Stephanie Savage is the long-time producing partner of Josh Schwartz, and together they’ve brought us such addictive TV as The OC and Gossip Girl. Now, Stephanie is striking out on her own with this series (yes, ABC already ordered the whole shebang) about the women in the 1960s who stood beside these space race heroes. It’ll be soapy, but it promises to be a look at the other side of the coin in this U.S. legacy.
'Damaged Goods' From the Creator of 'Awkward'
The woman behind MTV’s excellent teen comedy Awkward, Lauren Iungerich, has a promising comedy pilot (which looks likely to head to series) at ABC. Not only is her involvement enticing, but the series aimed to look at the shift in sexual dynamics in a post-feminism era and if her honest take on contemporary teenage sexual dynamics on Awkward is any indication, this show might just be incredible.
Viola Davis in Shonda Rhimes' 'How to Get Away With Murder'
Viola Davis plus Shonda Rhimes: need we say more? Okay, we’ll say a little more. Davis plays a brilliant criminal defense professor who becomes embroiled in a murder plot that rocks her entire university. You hear that? That is the sound of us clearing out our DVRs to make room. Bring it on, Shonda.
Susannah Grant's 'The Club'
While this series (it’s another pilot with an early commitment) was conceived by American Hustle director David O. Russell, it’s since been left in the very capable hands of Susannah Grant (who wrote Erin Brockovich). Besides, with Downton Abbey becoming a snooze, we need this upstairs/downstairs country club drama.
Tea Leoni as 'Madame Secretary'
Because this pilot is set for CBS, it reminds me a little of the short-lived Geena Davis drama Commander in Chief, but it’s a new year so I’ll give this series — which finds Tea Leoni as the Secretary of State — a shot. The more women in (fictional) power, the better!
Margaret Cho in Tina Fey's 'Cabot College'
Tina Fey is really ruling the world it seems. Her Fox pilot, Cabot College, centers on a women’s college that opens up its applications to men for the first time ever. Margaret Cho has been tapped to play the college administrator. Hilarity will surely ensue.
Kate Walsh's 'Bad Judge'
This comedy from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions follows a “hard-living, sexually unapologetic” woman who “plays with the law.” (Duh, Walsh.) She also happens to be a U.S. Criminal Court judge. Here’s hoping this free-wheeling premise doesn’t result in a terrible, stereotypical selfish woman. We need some sexual freedom on the likes of NBC, but leave your bad stereotypes at the door please.
Casey Wilson & June Diane Raphael's 'Mason Twins'
Happy Endings star Casey Wilson and Burning Love leading lady June Diane Raphael came together to create this pilot about two sisters who’ve been estranged since high school and come back together when the high-powered one experiences a downward spiral. The premise could promise bad female stereotypes, but Raphael is no stranger to turning a premise like that into commentary, so this one looks promising.
Kristen Ritter in 'Mission Control'
Will Ferrell is at it again, this time with a 1960s series that’s said to have an ”Anchorman vibe.” Ritter will star and also sign on as a producer and is supposed to be a “strong” woman among these Ferrellian boys. Fingers crossed for Veronica Corningstone on steroids.
Amy Poehler's 'Old Soul'
Amy Poehler is producing another show — and this comes after her other project Broad City has stolen our hearts and our dirty, dirty minds. Old Soul is set to star Natasha Lyonne from Orange is the New Black as the owner of an old folks’ home. That sounds great, but you had us at “Amy Poehler.”
Ellen DeGeneres' 'One Big Happy'
Ellen DeGeneres brings this comedy pilot about a lesbian and her straight male best friend to NBC. And while the “let’s make an artificial insemination baby” plot isn’t all that enticing, seeing a lesbian character as the star of a network sitcom is a long time coming. Besides, is there anything DeGeneres has done in the past 10 years that we haven’t loved?