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The Hunger Games

Hollywood Gets Wise to Women

''The more women [on screen], the more people are going to see their choices, their hopes, their dreams, their sense of humor reflected back at them,'' says 2 Broke Girls creator Michael Patrick King. In other words, it's the abundance of voices that matters. Bring on Mindy Kaling's sitcom The Mindy Project, about a gifted ob-gyn who yearns for a romantic-comedy love life. And Jodie Foster's female-driven Mob drama, Angie's Body, or the dramedy Guide to Divorce from Buffy the Vampire Slayer producer Marti Noxon, both in development at Showtime. That network (already home to kick-ass Claire Danes on Homeland) also picked up a pilot called Girls With Guns, an hour-long drama about two Los Angeles sisters drafted into the Israeli armed forces. ''We led with the female piece,'' Robert King (co-creator of The Good Wife) says of the pitch he and his producing partner/wife, Michelle King, made to the net's execs. ''We were interested by female empowerment and how it's changing familiar institutions.'' Sold.

In the No. 1 New York Times best-seller Gone Girl (coming soon to the big screen), author Gillian Flynn's deliciously twisted main character Amy rips apart the archetype of the ''cool girl'': ''Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer....'' (Think any underwritten, unrecognizable female love interest in a male comedy vehicle.) The Cool Girl probably wouldn't admit to being in a book club that gleefully ripped through E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey (30 million copies sold in the U.S., with a movie in the works). And she probably wasn't invited to join those same women out for a night of hooting and hollering at Channing Tatum to stop talking already and take off his clothes in Magic Mike ($113.2 million in domestic box office). You know what's cool? A woman having the right to a cheap thrill.

But indulgence should not be confused with frivolity. Just ask Scarlett Johansson. She skillfully smacked down a reporter at an Avengers press junket who, in a two-part question, asked costar Robert Downey Jr. to deconstruct the layers of his character and then asked the actress about her diet. ''How come you get the really interesting existential question, and I get the 'rabbit food' question?'' she snapped.

In this ugly homestretch of a campaign season, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will continue to court the decisive female vote. These are disillusioning times, when stump speeches proclaim that women are the backbone of our country even as others casually use the words legitimate and rape in the same sentence. In Parks and Recreation's Sept. 20 premiere, Leslie Knope will assume her duties as the newly elected councilwoman of Pawnee. I want to go to there.

Originally posted Sep 07, 2012 Published in issue #1224-1225 Sep 21, 2012 Order article reprints