April Fool’s: How TV Keeps Getting the Last Laugh on Singles

By Michelle Cove

lizlemonLive Science came out with a study on single women and how they feel about their relationship status. The headline of that study: “Single Women Still Feel Spinster Stigma.” Um, is this really supposed to be shocking news?

The headline did get me thinking about why single women still feel like outcasts. I mean, there are more single women in the U.S. than ever (approximately 4 million never-married 30-somethings alone!). And the accomplishments of singles in their late 20s and older are amazing: Many of you got your advanced degrees, climbed the career ladder, social networked your butts off, purchased your own place or are “renting wisely,” and are quite self-reliant. So why do women still feel so weird about being single?

Maybe in part it comes from growing up with media telling us that true happiness comes once you marry and have babies. We were, after all, raised on fairytale endings with princes that rescue–a message recreated and reinforced over the years via chick lit, romantic comedies, and reality TV shows where contestants tried to win husbands. Even the wildly popular HBO TV show Sex and the City—which supposedly celebrated single women–married off three of the four leads, leaving many audience members feeling aggravated and betrayed.

Today’s hit TV shows aren’t helping: Several of the most popular comedies feature single women in their 30s or older as professionally successful and romantically pathetic—like wide-eyed Emma (played by Jayma Mays) on “Glee,” who spent all of season one drooling over her married colleague Mr. Schuester; Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey) in “30 Rock,” who can manage an entire team of misfit comedy writers but turns into a clueless mess when she meets an attractive single man; and Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) on “Parks and Recreation,” who is a Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation, and feels so inadequate and nervous before a first date with a guy she likes that she goes on a practice date with a woman friend. These are the models? Please! These women are living the love lives of tween girls.

I hope things will change, and we’ll start to see smart, sexy, normal single women on the air. But until then, you can at least be aware of how the current media keeps the stigma alive; instead of feeling demoralized, you can roll your eyes and refuse to buy in. That way, you can have the last laugh.

Michelle Cove is the Director for Seeking Happily Ever After, a feature-length documentary about why there are more single 30-something women than ever and whether women are redefining happily ever after. To support the cause, visit kickstarter.com: http://kck.st/bV022F.

Watch this “behind the scenes” clip for Michelle’s Seeking Happily Ever After