Hire Jane Espenson to write all the things. Or create an army of Jane Espenson clones to do so. If this is not technologically possible, you can settle for hiring more female writers, producers, show runners, and directors, in general.
I'm sorry, WHAT? THE? FUCK?
Elizabeth Perle, Goddammit, are you INSANE? I mean, REALLY? Look, just take Jane Espenson right out of the equation. Replace her name with "Approved Female Genre Writer." So now what we have is giving ALL the work to ONE PERSON because of COURSE this ONE PERSON is the ONLY WOMAN who can be trusted to write genre. But hey, if that's impossible (and so far, it doesn't seem to be), then we'll "settle for" hiring LESSER female writers. While not ideal, if that's all we can get, then that's what we'll take.
I would expect this from a clueless guy (not that all guys are clueless, but you know there are many). But a female self-described geek? No. Elizabeth Perle is contributing to the culture of inequality by picking ONE name out of a hat because that ONE woman is the ONLY one who can be trusted to write genre. What a fucking insult to the women who have written, CREATED and RUN TeeVee shows!!!!
But her list doesn't get much better:
Bring back Buffy. Okay don't. Okay do. No, don't. Um. We're conflicted, okay?
OR -- and maybe THIS is a stretch -- actually put on shows like Buffy. They're out there. So are the women who want to create them, but if Elizabeth's assumption that Approved Female Genre Writer as the only go-to writer holds true, then it logically follows that none of these women is going to get her shot. Also, Buffy was created by a man. So was Veronica Mars. So was Mad Men. But then that's a whole other issue, and one Elizabeth Perle doesn't feel strong enough to tackle.
Discover the female George Lucas. Or Kevin Smith. Or Simon Pegg. Or Seth Green. She's out there, but no one is paying attention.
Irony. Yeah, nobody's paying attention. But let's take a slightly different angle on this thing. There's a division happening in TeeVee right now. There are people who make their living on writing staffs, and then there are people who make their living selling shows. And of course, there's going to be overlap primarily because agents negotiate nice deals for their clients when they are upper level and get on shows. They get development as part of their deal. So a writer on a show will also be writing a pilot. But let's say that as an upper-level writer (male or female, doesn't much matter at this stage), you've gotten to that level by being on staffs. Maybe a bunch of different staffs, maybe just the one. While you had better Goddam know what you're doing after all that time, there's also the question of whether or not you've been able to develop your voice. And based on pilots I've seen and read, it's something that should be discussed.
So rather than focusing in on one Approved Female Genre Writer whose name you've seen on your television screen, why not do some digging and find out who is creating shows? Who's selling pilots at the expense of a life on a writing staff?
No, I'm seriously asking you, WHO IS DOING THAT? Because as we had better be aware, 99.999% of all TeeVee shows are created by men. And since 99.999% of all writing staffs are male, it sure makes sense that someone as jedi-tastic as Elizabeth Perle has only heard of Jane Espenson.
There's a lot of jabber in the comments about for whom these shows were created. While it's true that TeeVee writers have to think about where they're likely to sell a project, shows are rarely born out of a desire to target only a certain segment of the population. There's a point at which a show must be allowed to create itself, before the writer steps in to harness it. You can tell when shows haven't been given this freedom, and then you can tell when they have.
But I guess the majority of America just doesn't give a shit, and writers are falling victim to that. There are SO many levels you have to get through before you can sell a show. Every level, every gatekeeper, changes your idea. It's a fine line between giving the buyers what they want and keeping your vision intact. And it's quite a different line than that which staff writers walk.
This brings me to the few TeeVee pilots I've seen. I watched three, none of which got on the air. The first was Wonder Woman.
(waiting patiently for the howls to die down)
Yes, I saw it. It's not great. But it's interesting to note why. There's no point of view. David Kelley just seemed a bit lost. He has NO familiarity with the genre, and that comes through constantly, as he tries to update, dismiss and reinvent it -- ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Not surprisingly, this doesn't work. At the end of the day, Diana Prince and Wonder Woman get totally and completely lost. It doesn't seem as if Kelley set out to entertain ANYONE. He doesn't seem inspired by the material or by any thematic content. It's not really a good thing when you don't have any idea what drew the writer to the project. Maybe he wanted to stretch himself. I don't know. He's trying, but he just doesn't quite get there.
I also watched Locke & Key, and you are very very sad that this didn't make the cut. The reason appears to be one of programming -- where does Fox put it? There are kids in it, and it's also really scary. Flummoxed! But also Goddam stupid. They found a place to put the dinosaur show, which has kids in it and is also scary. Not picking up Locke & Key is a mistake to me because it's an awesome pilot. Weird and spooky and cool and visual. A real shame.
Also in the "real shame" category is 17th Precinct, which is one of the best pilots I've seen in a long, long time. Admittedly, the best pilots I've seen don't always turn out to be huge smash successes. I'll direct you towards Miracles, which is one of my favorite pilots of all time. Or American Gothic, which was SO taken apart by CBS.
An awful lot of genre shows plain forget about the world-building. Some urban fantasy shows seem to believe that because the shows are set in the present day and on Earth, no world-building is necessary. This is bullshit, and it's why most genre shows don't hold my interest. And no, I won't tell you which ones they are. But regardless of what others think, world-building is crucial. Ron Moore does this flawlessly. He did it on Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, and he does it here. 17th Precinct is an immersive experience and its construction is meticulous. It's our world, only magic developed instead of science. It's SUCH a simple premise but apparently the fucking testing said it was too confusing. Look, testing audience, you are assholes for not liking this show. For killing this show. I don't know how the show was viewed internally and if NBC didn't like it, I don't want to know. I hope they're all totally depressed over there that this show didn't get on.
What's weird is, urban fantasy is SO popular in fiction right now. I realize there's a big disconnect between People Who Read and People Who Watch, but when a network gets a show like THIS, they would be doing the world a favor by putting it on.
Not only is the premise clear and concise, but anyone who's ever seen a procedural should just flat-out understand this show. So I have to think that the grunts doing the testing really fucked this up. The characters are real and terrific and the ending, which the entire pilot story works towards, takes the premise of the show and tweaks it so that you know INSTANTLY what the series will be. I mean, it couldn't be any fucking CLEARER. It's so organic and beautifully delivered.
Ron Moore wants to entertain the audience. He wants to give them something to root for, and something to fear. The way he builds the pilot story to its surprising conclusion is fucking masterful. And I felt his enthusiasm throughout. He has no interest in hiding anything from the audience. He doesn't care if they sit there afterwards and go, "Wow, you're really clever!"
He's not Steven Moffat.
It's a real shame that Locke & Key and 17th Precinct fell victim to pilot season. They deserved SO much better.
Speaking of Steven Moffat, I'll have a bit more on Who next and also will address a few comments. Just wanted to get this one out!