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Television Antiheroines
Women Behaving Badly in Crime and Prison Drama
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ISBN 9781783207602
Paperback pages
Published March 2017
Imprint: Intellect
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Edited by Milly Buonanno
Chapter Titles     |      Reviews     |      Comments

With a foreword by Diane Negra and Jorie Lagerway.

As television has finally started to create more leading roles for women, the female antiheroine has emerged as a compelling and dynamic character type. Television Antiheroines looks closely at this recent development, exploring the emergence of women characters in roles typically reserved for men, particularly in the male-dominated genre of the crime and prison drama.

The essays collected in Television Antiheroines are divided into four sections or types of characters: mafia women, drug dealers and aberrant mothers, women in prison, and villainesses. Looking specifically at shows such as Gomorrah, Mafiosa, The Wire, The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black, and Antimafia Squad, the contributors explore the role of race and sexuality and focus on how many of the characters transgress traditional ideas about femininity and female identity, such as motherhood. They examine the ways in which bad women are portrayed and how these characters undermine gender expectations and reveal the current challenges by women to social and economic norms. Television Antiheroines will be essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in crime and prison drama and the rising prominence of women in nontraditional roles.

Chapter titles
Part I: Mafia Women
Buonanno, Villez, Akass and McCabe
Chapter 1: Godmothers in Italian Mafia Story: Or 'Something Else Besides a Mother'
Milly Buonanno
Chapter 2: Mafiosa, Monstruous Beauty: Power and Loneliness of a Female Mob Leader
Barbara Villez
Chapter 3: Adieu Carmela Soprano! Lessons from the HBO Mobster Wife on TV Female Agency and Neo-Liberal (Narrative) Power
Kim Akass and Janet McCabe
Part II: Drug Dealers and Aberrant Mothers
Hermes, Giomi, Lotz and Rivero
Paying the Price: Penoza – Combining Motherhood anf a Career (in Crime)
Joke Hermes
'Really Good At It': The Viral Charge of Nancy Botwin in Weeds (and Popular Culture's Anticorps)
Elisa Giomi
Really Bad Mothers: Manipulative Matriarchs in Sons of Anarchy and Justified
Amanda D. Lotz
La reina del sur: Teresa Mendoza, a New Telenovela Protagonist
Yeidy M. Rivero
Part III: Women in Prison
Ball, Turnball and Walters
Chapter 8: Blurred Lines: The Queer World of Bad Girls
Vicky Ball
Chapter 9: Top Dogs and Other Freaks: Wentworth and the Re-imaging of Prisoner Cell Block H
Sue Turnball
Chapter 10: Lesbian Request Approved: Sex, Power and Desire in Orange is the New Black
Suzanna Danuta Walters
Part IV: Villainesses and Anti-antiheroines
Joyce, La Pastina, Williams, Press and Redhead
Chapter 11: Women and Criminality in Brazilian Telenovelas: Salve Jorge and Human Trafficking
Samantha Joyce and Antonio Las Pastina
'Your Turn, Girl': The (Im)Possibility of African American Antiheroines in The Wire
Bruce A. Williams and Andrea L. Press
Taming Pussytown: How Post-feminism Domesticated Underbelly: Razor
Leigh Redhead
'[T]his collection of high-minded studies aims to examine how women have been allowed to travel in the same trajectory (the new “golden age of television” started by show-runners like David Chase and Vince Gilligan) gave way to equally strong visionaries like Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Orange Is the New Black) and numerous telenovelas in Brazil, Colombia, and New Zealand.' – Popmatters, Christopher John Stevens

'Television Antiheroines: Women Behaving Badly in Crime and Prison Drama is a strong collection of academic scholarship, and is a required purchase for scholars whose research relates to gender roles and female agency, particular in television. The book will undoubtedly serve graduate students and established professionals in the fields of critical, cultural and media studies very well. These 13 essays are highly detailed and effortlessly engaging. Through examination of antiheroines such as The Sopranos’ Carmela Soprano and Weeds’ Nancy Botswin, as well as foreign protagonists such as Penoza’s Carmen Walraven and the Spanish-language La Reina del Sur’s Teresa Mendoza, Television Antiheroines: Women Behaving Badly in Crime and Prison Drama raises intriguing and timely questions regarding feminism and female identity.' – Graeme Wilson, Critical Studies in Media Communication

'The contributors to the book successfully manage to ‘explore atypical portrayals of femininity’ (p. 4) from an international perspective, which is their joint goal as outlined in the Editor’s Introduction. Written for a wide contemporary readership, the book will be of practical use to students of communication and media studies and must not be overlooked by academic philosophers inasmuch as the authors’ discussions contribute to debates on the ontological and existential structures of human existence.' – Elena Fell, European Journal of Communication

'With so many television series circulating the airwaves and beyond, it can be challenging to find those worthy enough to fill our precious leisure time. Thankfully Milly Buonanno’s edited collection of essays not only draws our attention to the contemporary television landscape’s changing typography, but it is also a useful resource for those looking for their next binge-worthy programme. The book’s emphasis on ‘female-centred forms with a particular focus on the liminality of women associated with criminality’ (xi) historicises the range of unconventional portrayals of womanhood in the 21st century, defines these depictions in terms of their antiheroine aspects and investigates some specific international instantiations.' – Michael P Young, Critical Studies in Television: The International Journal of Television Studies

'Italian scholar Milly Buonanno of Rome’s La Sapienza University has often complained that, in this second Golden Age of TV, academic attention is focused almost exclusively on the United States. Even in a country like Spain, newspa- pers dutifully recap each episode of American premium- cable and streaming-service series while ignoring their own local productions. Hence, the importance of Buonanno’s new collection Television Antiheroines: Women Behaving Badly in Crime and Prison Drama, which tracks its female figures on screens from Italy and France to Australia and Brazil.' – Paul Julian Smith, Film Quarterly

'Milly Buonanno’s anthology, Television Antiheroines: Women Behaving Badly in Crime and Prison Drama, explores depictions of unconventional womanhood in twenty-first-century television. It investigates how heteronormative ideologies of gender are challenged as female characters transgress feminine norms of passivity, purity, motherhood, goodness and caring. Split into four sections with thirteen contributions, the book sets out to analyse the figure of the antiheroine in international programming by investigating the transgressive possibilities enabled when characters refuse to socially conform to the laws of society, gender and the criminal underworld.' – Katherine Whitehurst, Journal of Popular Television

'This is a welcome and well-constructed anthology on the topic of the anti-heroine in contemporary television. Especially impressive is the global scope of the collection, which features discussions of shows from outside of the United States (oftentimes absent from writing on television). As Milly Buonanno notes in her Introduction, the book is implicitly in conversation with Charlotte Brundson’s conceptualization of ‘heroine television’ (Brundson, 1997). As Brundson observed, shows oriented around heroines were, in their own way, ‘addressing feminism’ (p. 34), and the same is explicitly true of this book, which leverages the anti-heroine motif in order to examine how such figures ‘perform triple transgressions against social norms (as law breakers), gender norms (as women behaving badly) and against the norms of the underworld subculture as well (as women in power within the masculinist crime organization)’ (p. 13). Exactly because the anti-heroine ‘embodies the potentiality of turning constructed notions of femininity upside down by eluding or defying gender norms’ (p. 11), Television antiheroines succeeds.' – Martin Shuster, Journal of Gender Studies

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