Books by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
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 Black person 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.
Pop Star Goddesses
A compendium of thirty-five incredible female pop stars whose energies, virtues, and vices make them the ideal role models for our age—powerful women who can teach us all how to discover our own inner goddess.
We are living in the age of the music goddess: Beyoncé. Lady Gaga. Taylor Swift. Katy Perry. Britney. Nicki Minaj. Cardi B. Pink. Madonna. Rihanna. Gwen Stefani. Alicia Keys. Kelly Clarkson.
Never before have so many women dominated their industry and pop culture itself with such creativity, passion, and force. Visionary and ferociously talented, these women are reshaping our society and our lives. In this stunningly designed compendium, Jennifer Armstrong offers an intimate, up-close look at thirty-five of pop music’s most revered goddesses, analyzing their performances, songs, videos, interviews, social media, activism, and personal lives to illuminate their significance for both critics and fans.
These divas post astounding album sales, enjoy millions of radio plays, YouTube views, and social media followings, and sell out stadiums. While we are awed and inspired by their success, we worship them for so much more. Beyoncé’s work ethic. Nicki Minaj’s no-bullshit attitude. Taylor Swift’s relatability. Pink’s sense of social justice. Jennifer Lopez’s transformation from “Jenny from the block” to fashion icon. Each of these goddesses speaks to us in her own unique way. Beyoncé is our superhuman alter ego; Britney is our survival instinct.
Armstrong pairs each pop star goddess with a corresponding goddess from ancient cultures, and offers advice on how to invoke the pop star goddess’s energy in your own life, providing journal prompts and a Power Song List that allows you harness the power of a particular pop goddess’s energy when you need it.
Filled with information, advice, insights, playlists, and forty gorgeous color illustrations, Pop Star Goddess will help you tune in and turn on your own divine energy.
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.”
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted
It offers readers a glimpse inside the lives of the groundbreaking female TV writers who lent their real lives to scripts, the men who created the indelible characters, the lone woman in the network executive ranks who cast the legendary ensemble, and the colorful cast of actors who made it all work. James L. Brooks, Grant Tinker, Allan Burns, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel, and, of course, Mary Tyler Moore all came together to make a show that changed women’s lives, and television.
AP calls it “the quintessential book on one of the greatest sitcoms to hit the airwaves.” The Boston Globe describes it as “warm and funny and rife with juicy details.” “Compelling and highly readable, this book is as informative as it is charming,” Bust says. “As enjoyable as reruns of the classic show.” And The New York Times‘s Caryn James calls it “energetic … fascinating … shrewd … thoughtful.”