This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's the year of empowered women on network TV. Or maybe the year of unempowered men. Actually, it's both.

Of the 24 comedies and dramas debuting on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW, 14 are female-centric and only seven are clearly male-dominated.

From the detective on "Prime Suspect" to the adorable "New Girl," from "2 Broke Girls" to the young woman out for "Revenge," women are taking charge.

"Empowered women is definitely a theme of the network," said ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee.

Emphasis on empowered women. Rachael Taylor, one of the stars of the new "Charlie's Angels," said that show is what would result if "Jack Bauer ['24'] and Carrie Bradshaw ['Sex and the City'] had a love child."

But there's more to the trend. Of the seven male-dominated shows, three ("Last Man Standing," "How to Be a Gentleman" and "Man Up!") are about men struggling to define masculinity.

"They're confused about what their role should be as modern men," said Victor Fresco, executive producer of "Man Up."

There simply aren't many strong male characters on new fall shows. "A Gifted Man" needs the ghost of his ex-wife for guidance. "Up All Night" is about new parents — a working mother and a stay-at-home dad. Tim Allen is back as a manly man, but this time he's surrounded by a wife and three daughters.

The strongest man on any new show this fall might just be Simon Cowell, who's back judging singing talent on "The X-Factor."

Even the two shows set in the 1960s — ABC's "Pan Am" and NBC's "The Playboy Club" — feature women who are stronger than that pre-liberation era might suggest.

"The world was open to [stewardesses] and they had choices that they had never had before," said executive producer Nancy Hult Ganis.

Despite the fact that the show is about women in bunny costumes, producers insist "The Playboy Club" is all about girl power.

"Really, the show is all about empowering," said executive producer Chad Hoge. "And who these women can be and how they can use their position to get what they want."

Network television has long been aimed at female viewers, and that seems particularly obvious in this new crop of shows. It's simple math. Women watch about four hours more prime-time TV per week than men, so it makes sense to try to appeal to them.

Because, of course, more viewers means you can charge higher rates to advertisers.

ABC's female-dominated lineup is "one of the reasons our [ad rates] are so high," said ABC's Lee. "Our advertisers know that we deliver that audience."

But there may be another reason the trend has become so pronounced. Whereas TV was once dominated by men — as network executives and as producers, writers and directors — that balance of power has shifted toward women in recent years.

So much so that the trade publication Adweek published a story in May stating that "arguably, [women] are having a disproportionate … effect on television's business culture — its style, its processes, its sense of itself, its management feng shui, if you will."

Women show-runners were once a novelty in network TV. Today, Shonda Rhimes alone has two shows ("Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice") on ABC's fall schedule, another ("Scandal") coming at midseason, and she's sold the script for a fourth ("Gilded Lilies") to the network.

That's the kind of TV-mogul status once held by the likes of Aaron Spelling and Steven Bochco.

Whitney Cummings isn't only the star of her own NBC sitcom, "Whitney" — in which she plays a strong woman who dominates her relationship — but she's also an executive producer of the CBS sitcom "2 Broke Girls." She's creator, writer, executive producer and actress.

"I think that we're in a really amazing time where there are really a lot of really fantastic female actresses and comedians," Cummings said, "so I imagine there's just a lot of opportunity for women to have powerful roles. More and more women are writing TV, so that probably is part of that trend as well. Because women tend to write strong women."

Twitter: @ScottDPierce

Facebook.com/tribremix