ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER VII | SYMPOSIUM FOR CONTEMPORARY ANIMATION STUDIES | Panel 2 - WOMEN IN ANIMATION
Are Animated Adult Sitcoms Stuck in the Fifties? - Sarah Ann Kennedy Parr (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)
There is a lack of women working in key creative roles in the animation industry in the UK and America. Since 1990, in the UK there have only been 6.5% of animation series created, written and directed by women. The impact of this lack of women writers and creators affects the kind of content being created particularly in the adult market. Starting with The Jetsons in 1962 and ending with American Dad in 2014, all these primetime sitcoms have one thing in common – a mother character who is happy to be a stay at home ‘mom’ and is the voice of reason within the family.
This idea of the ‘fifties’ housewife is the mainstay for all of these cartoons across the decades, from The Flintstones to The Simpsons. Tom Shale from the Washington Post cites The Simpsons as America’s ‘favourite family’ yet their family structure doesn’t take into account many family structures today – single mothers, single dads, or same sex couples. My paper will examine why this character and social set up is still so popular in animation when ‘live action’ shows such as Absolutely Fabulous, Will and Grace, Motherland, The Golden Girls or Fleabag embrace more radical notions of femininity, and motherhood.
Sarah Ann Kennedy Parr runs the MA Animation course at the University of Central Lancashire. Previously, Sarah worked in industry in a variety of roles including writer, animation director, creator, show runner, executive producer and voice artist. Sarah has won numerous awards in the UK and internationally but is probably best known as the voice of Miss Rabbit in the BAFTA winning series Peppa Pig, as well as the creator of Crapston Villas for Channel 4. Since working in academia, Sarah has presented various papers about the role of women in the animation industry in the UK and internationally.