Tamara Gould with John Lithgow at the TCAs


Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman


Atlanta stars Donald Glover, Zazie Beetz and Brian Tyree Henry


Behind the scenes of Jeopardy! with the late Alex Trebek 

Sony Television
women of fire

PBS SoCal's Women of Fire

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Fill 1
March 14, 2024
Online Originals

My 7 Shows With PBS SoCal's Tamara Gould

The chief content officer celebrates Women's History Month with a classic DC Comics TV series.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Tamara Gould could stick her hand out the window and practically touch Studio City. Thanks to that special connection, she realized early on that she didn't just have the power to just passively watch TV — she could change it from the inside-out.

"I always wanted to know how the media could do more," she says. "What if we could educate people and excite them? What if we could meet people we don't know outside our bubble? Maybe we could open hearts and minds."

Gould is more than living up to her promise. As the chief content officer of PBS SoCal (KOCE-TV) for the past year, she oversees programming and acquisitions for 19 million viewers in ten counties across the state. "We make sure our channels fit with the PBS mission and our service in the community," says Gould, who's worked in public television for two decades. With a specialty in showcasing nonfiction, she raves that her viewers "get this incredible synthesis of really complex stories and topics that filmmakers have spent so much time, effort and energy presenting in a way that's absorbing to them."

She highlights two specials in honor of Women's History Month. Bella celebrates the life and work of southern California-based choreographer Bella Lewitzky. "She creates a beautiful new language around dance — and then creates a new movement by becoming an activist," she explains. In Women of Fire, the all-female trainees at the Los Angeles County Women's Fire Prep Academy learn to deploy hoses and break into burning buildings as they decide on future careers as firefighters and EMTs. "It shows that if you shift your gaze a little, something can become accessible," she says. "It's important to make opportunities, not barriers." (Check listings for scheduling info.)

Not surprisingly, Gould curated her My Seven Shows to underline this belief: "The message is that what you watch should have meaning, right? I take this really seriously." Check out her list of shows below.

Jeopardy! (1964-1979, NBC; 1984-Present, syndicated)

This was a great chance for me to compete with my brother and sister! The show is also just really fun, everybody likes it. There were so many different kinds of topics: Whenever I knew a lot about one thing, it was really exciting; if I knew nothing about it, I could learn. And Alex Trebek was just a fantastic host. I still watch it with my kids. It's still a competitive sport.

Wonder Woman (1975-1977, ABC; 1977-1979, CBS)

My parents kept our TV set in a cabinet and would only let us watch one hour a week. This was the one show that my sister and I could agree on because we had really different tastes. Lynda Carter was amazing, and we both loved her. She had her Lasso of Truth. She didn't resort to violence and instead fought with her mind. As a young woman, I thought she was inspiring both as a character and as a role model.

Women, War & Peace (2011-2019, PBS)

This is a multi-part series featuring an all-female cast of directors telling stories about women who risked their lives for peace in places like Bosnia, Afghanistan and Liberia. The series made me look at war and conflict differently. I remember [filmmaker] Abigail Disney telling me, "Everybody was there looking at the fighters; I turned my camera and looked at the mothers." It's always about perspective and whose eyes you're looking through to tell the story.

Half the Sky (2012, PBS)

I loved this documentary series based on the book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It featured Eva Mendes and Meg Ryan, who went around the world talking about stories of female trafficking. It's looking at local gender equality in a way that reached millions of viewers. For me, what was most exciting about it was that it took a really hard topic and made it accessible. That's one of our missions in public broadcasting.

Atlanta (2016-2022, FX)

I'm struck by the fact that [this show] has so many themes coming together, like race and music and social justice. But it's also hilarious in how we get people to open up to new ideas. [Creator and star] Donald Glover's way of mixing genres is phenomenal, and he's just so good. He's a voice that we need. And I love the cast that he assembled.

How It Feels to Be Free (2021, PBS)

I worked on this show from the development stage. It's about six iconic Black women — Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier — and looking at how they changed the entertainment industry and how their talents truly changed the world. It's just a beautiful film and so inspiring to see these women perform their craft. The archive footage is also just incredible.

The Bear (2022-Present, FX)

I started watching it because my daughter is going to school in Chicago. The drama packed into this show along with the tension of running a restaurant and that sort of addiction to it and dealing with human relationships is so riveting. I'm just glued to the screen! I think Jeremy Allen White is such a good actor. His performance is just next-level amazing.

This interview has been edited for length and condensed for length and clarity.

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