Forget the Golden Age of television — ask any of Hollywood’s badass female stars, and they’ll tell you we’re having a Golden Age of women in television, and not a minute too soon. SheKnows spoke with Lizzy Caplan and Elizabeth Perkins about their new series Truth Be Told, and the two leading ladies proudly shared why it’s such a good time to be a woman in television.
Truth Be Told, an Apple TV+ original series starring Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul, Mekhi Phifer, and Ron Cephas Jones, alongside Caplan and Perkins explores what happens when a woman behind a viral, true-crime podcast (much like beloved Serial) re-investigates a case she covered years ago — and finds out she may have helped convict an innocent man.
It’s not exactly light fare, but for Sharp Objects‘ Perkins and Castle Rock‘s Caplan, that’s kind of the point. They were drawn to this project in part for the opportunity to explore complex female characters, and in part because of the incredible cast and crew of women behind the show.
Talking about the experience of working alongside so many women, Perkins told us this: “I’ve been really lucky this past couple of years. I did Sharp Objects with Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson, and it was created by Marti Noxon and Gillian Flynn. So I went straight in from that into this, which is, Octavia [Spencer] and Nichelle [D. Tramble, the show’s creator] — a really strong women’s presence.”
Perkins continues: “Lizzy and I were talking about this earlier, that it would be nice if [working on female-led projects] wasn’t so novel…It would be a great feeling if that was just commonplace, and didn’t stand out so much.”
Caplan agrees: “It will be very exciting to not get asked that question,” she quips. “But I do think progress is being made. Yes, it’s slow — but it felt really slow for a long time, and now it feels like it’s actually picking up some traction. It’s something that people care about — partly because they know they’re going to be asked this question…which like, whatever gets us there.”
For Perkins and Caplan, it’s not just about working with women, but about telling authentic women’s stories. “It was great to see the female perspective on the written page, which we don’t get to see very often,” Perkins told SheKnows. (Truth Be Told is written by Spellman, and based on the book Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber.)
At the same Truth Be Told junket, Perkins elaborates on why female authors are so key to authentic female stories — you know, in case any men in the audience were confused. “I can sort of tell by reading a script whether it’s been written by a woman or by a man because — it’s interesting, they’ll give the female character a lot to say, but it’s usually about him,” Perkins explains, getting a big laugh from her listeners. “Even when she’s talking about the relationship, it’s about him, instead of talking about their own hopes and dreams and desires — I’ve noticed that big time.”
While Perkins and Caplan agree that female TV characters have never been more interesting, Caplan told another reporter at the junket that she thinks TV has always been a better place for women than film.
So, where do we go next? Perkins has an idea about which sub-genre of women’s stories is still not getting the attention it’s due: “I’m 59 next week,” she told SheKnows. “And there’s just not a lot of people who are writing stories for women my age.”
Caplan interjects: “You should!” Perkins laughs: “I wish I was a good writer. But there’s a huge market, and it’s an untapped market…I think it would behoove many studios to embrace older women’s stories.”
Caplan and Perkins believe these changes in TV have always been what audiences wanted to see — but only now do women have the power to make it happen. “[People] want to see flawed, interesting women as much as they want to see flawed and interesting men,” Caplan said to reporters. “That’s always been the case, but now we’re starting to see the content reflect that.”
Truth Be Told will be released on Apple TV+ on December 6, 2019.
— Reporting by Kate Durocher