Once upon a time, at the same time every week, one of my roommates and I had to ditch our apartment (occupied by a few fellow young women) for a guy friend’s abode so that we could watch South Park as it aired — our own TV was occupied by banter delivered at tongue-twisting-speed by The Gilmore Girls, which aired at the same time as our beloved Kyle and Cartman. So when this female fan of shows like Rescue Me, Archer, and The Following read AdAge’s article discussing the popularity of male-targeted shows among women, the first thing I thought was, “I knew it wasn’t just us!”
In fact, the highest-rated cable show among women so far this year is not FOX‘s female-targeted New Girl or Lifetime‘s Dance Moms, but AMC‘s gore-filled zombie apocalypse drama The Walking Dead. According to Nielsen, the February 10 mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead drew a 5.0 rating/11 share among women 18-49 (almost twice that of its nearest competitor). To give that number some context, shows like ABC’s Once Upon a Time and CBS’ The Good Wife are lucky when the same demographic comes in above a 1.5.
So does that mean that women are seeing past gore and violence to intricate story lines and interesting characters? It’s not that simple. Horizon Media research director Brad Adgate says gore isn’t necessarily a turnoff for women. “If there’s one genre that’s really popular with men and women, science fiction is it—anything that deals with the occult really.” To support his point, Adgate mentions long-running procedurals like CSI and Law & Order: SVU, which boast an overwhelmingly female audience.
It seems we ladies aren’t wading through the scary stuff–we are wholly engrossed in it. Girls may be sugar and spice and everything nice, but we also like to watch shows about serial killers.