Hollywood Had a Record Year for Female Protagonists in 2019, New Study Claims

Brie Larson stars in Captain Marvel (2019).
Brie Larson stars in Captain Marvel (2019).
Marvel Studios

Things are looking up for women in Hollywood—kind of. Last year proved to be a record one for female protagonists in film, Variety reports. From superhero blockbusters like Captain Marvel to dramedies like The Farewell, 40 percent of 2019’s top-grossing films featured female protagonists. That’s up from 31 percent in 2018, the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film reports.

What’s more, a growing number of studio features included female protagonists (45 percent). About 55 percent of the female protagonists included in the study appeared in independent films. That’s an improvement from last year, Variety reports, when independent films were almost twice as likely as studio features to star female protagonists (68 percent versus 32 percent).

Unfortunately, the good news mostly ends there. In 2019, women made up 34 percent of all speaking roles, a decrease of one percentage point since 2018 (we’re looking at you, Martin Scorsese). Female characters also tend to be younger than their male counterparts; the majority of female characters in 2019 were in their 20s (22 percent) and 30s (31 percent), while the majority of male characters were in their 30s (32 percent) and 40s (26 percent).

The situation looks even bleaker for female characters of color. Hollywood as a whole has shown negligible improvement in racial diversity since 2016. About 68 percent of all female characters in 2019 were white, while about a fifth were black, seven percent were Asian, and five percent were Latina. Those numbers were roughly the same in 2017 and 2018, with slight improvements since 2016.

Women are taking on more leadership roles behind the scenes, though. Women directed 12 percent of 2019’s highest-grossing films, which is eight percent higher than in 2018. An increasing number of women are also taking on roles related to production, cinematography, writing, and editing. As more women and people of color take up leadership roles behind the scenes, it’s likely that on-screen diversity will increase, a report from the University of Southern California suggests.

[h/t Variety]

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It


When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Which Friends Character Would Earn the Most Money in the Real World?

Warner Bros. Television/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Warner Bros. Television/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Although Friends went off the air in 2004, the iconic sitcom continues to attract new fans who've discovered the show via re-runs and streaming networks like HBO Max.

To play into this devoted fan base, the professional resume writers at StandOut-CV conducted a fun experiment: They asked more than 3000 fans to predict where Joey, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe, and Monica would be today, career-wise. They also took the time to figure out how much each character would earn in their respective fields in the real world. Could we be more curious?

Bringing in the highest salary is Joey, whose acting exploits are projected to earn him approximately $61,022 a year. Next comes Dr. Ross, whose career as a paleontologist brings in an estimated $59,023. After that comes fashion designer Rachel, earning $54,563 a year, followed by Chandler's writer/editor salary of $47,039 annually. Phoebe comes next, with her musical career bringing in an annual salary of $43,604 (although the site doesn't mention how her massage therapy business might factor into her life today). Surprisingly, Monica would bring in the least amount of money; she'd earn an average of $43,165 per year as a head chef.

As far as where fans think the Friends gang would be today, the answers are pretty great: They believe Joey would have expanded his acting career to include his own reality series called Keeping Up With Joey Tribbiani. Monica, meanwhile, would have taken the next step in her culinary career by opening up her own restaurant, and her husband Chandler would have continued his passion for writing at a comics magazine. The last season of Friends follows Rachel as she works as an executive for Ralph Lauren, and fans theorize that she would have used her breadth of experience to start her own fashion brand. It's believed Phoebe would have continued her music career, perhaps even becoming a music teacher, while Ross would have spent time writing dinosaur-themed children's books.

Hopefully, the upcoming Friends reunion special will give fans a final answer on what the characters would be up to today.