Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of seven pop culture history books, including New York Times bestseller Seinfeldia; Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted; Sex and the City and Us; and When Women Invented Television.
Jennifer has helped many other writers make the transition from “aspiring” to the real deal. She loves helping fellow writers so much that she co-hosts a podcast about it, #Authoring! Packages include setting up your writing career, writing a book proposal, writing a non-fiction book, and more.
As a journalist and critic, Jennifer contributes regularly to such publications as Buzzfeed News, Refinery29, Billboard, Lion’s Roar, Entertainment Weekly, Vice, Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, BBC Culture, Smithsonian, The Verge, and many more.
Lastest Book Release
When Women Invented Television
The New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia tells the little-known story of four trailblazing women in the early days of television who laid the foundation of the industry we know today.
It was the Golden Age of Radio and powerful men were making millions in advertising dollars reaching thousands of listeners every day. When television arrived, few radio moguls were interested in the upstart industry and its tiny production budgets, and expensive television sets were out of reach for most families. But four women—each an independent visionary— saw an opportunity and carved their own paths, and in so doing invented the way we watch TV today.
Irna Phillips turned real-life tragedy into daytime serials featuring female dominated casts. Gertrude Berg turned her radio show into a Jewish family comedy that spawned a play, a musical, an advice column, a line of house dresses, and other products. Hazel Scott, already a renowned musician, was the first African American to host a national evening variety program. Betty White became a daytime talk show fan favorite and one of the first women to produce, write, and star in her own show.
Together, their stories chronicle a forgotten chapter in the history of television and popular culture.
But as the medium became more popular—and lucrative—in the wake of World War II, the House Un-American Activities Committee arose to threaten entertainers, blacklisting many as communist sympathizers. As politics, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and money collided, the women who invented television found themselves fighting from the margins, as men took control. But these women were true survivors who never gave up—and thus their legacies remain with us in our television-dominated era. It’s time we reclaimed their forgotten histories and the work they did to pioneer the medium that now rules our lives.
This amazing and heartbreaking history tells it all for the first time.
“Armstrong always finds fresh relevance and excitement in pop culture, and she has really outdone herself here. … An essential contribution toward a more complete, inclusive, and true history of television.”
Author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation
“This book leaps at the throat of television history and takes down the patriarchy with its fervent, inspired prose. When Women Invented Television offers proof that what we watch is a reflection of who we are as a people, a medium whose founders deserve our respect.”
Author of Rise of the Rocket Girls
“Armstrong corrects the record to reclaim these women’s stories and document their influence. When Women Invented Television is rediscovered history at its finest.”
William J. Mann
Author of Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood and The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando
“These profiles in creativity and courage amount to a feminist revelation, a pre-history of television that is as brightly written as the pioneers might wish — a prize of a book, intelligent, sobering, and a delight to read.”
Author of Funny Man: Mel Brooks
More books from Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Sex and the City and Us
When Candace Bushnell started writing her “Sex and the City” column for the New York Observer, she didn’t think anyone beyond the Upper East Side would care about her adventures among the Hamptons-hopping media elite. But her struggles with singlehood struck a chord, making her a citywide—and soon nationwide—sensation.
Beverly Hills, 90210 creator Darren Star brought Bushnell’s vision to an even wider audience when he adapted the column for an HBO series. His four main characters, Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha, forever branded the actresses that took on the roles, redefined women’s relationship to sex, and elevated the perception of singlehood. With their fashion-forward lifestyle, they launched a barrage of trends, from fabric flower accessories to Manolo Blahnik shoes to Cosmopolitan cocktails.
Sex and the City and Us is the story of how a columnist, two gay men—Darren Star and fellow executive producer Michael Patrick King—and a writers’ room full of women used their own poignant, hilarious, and humiliating stories to launch a cultural phenomenon, pushing the boundaries of television and igniting a national conversation about single women and sex in the process. While the show’s feminist merits continue to fuel debate, it taught viewers—male and female, gay and straight—about sex, and demonstrated that single women could support each other through life’s tribulations, even as men came and went.
A New York Times Bestseller.
Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly 40 million Americans were tuning in weekly. Seinfeldia celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind the scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!”, Joe Davola gets questioned every day about his sanity, Kenny Kramer makes his living giving tours of New York sites from the show, and fans dress up in Jerry’s famous puffy shirt, dance like Elaine, and imagine plotlines for Seinfeld if it were still on TV. Library Journal says: “Armstrong offers a masterly look at one of the greatest shows.” The New York Times‘s Dwight Garner says, “Her book, as if she were a marine biologist, is a deep dive…Perhaps the highest praise I can give Seinfeldia is that it made me want to buy a loaf of marbled rye and start watching again, from the beginning.”
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