Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Briefish Thought On Responsibility

I'm working on a MAD MEN post but things are batshit right now, so hold on. It's coming. In the meantime, BUNHEADS has premiered. BUNHEADS comes from Amy Sherman-Palladino, the wordsmith behind THE GILMORE GIRLS, which was the show that nobody took seriously as real well-written television because it didn't have crack dealers, murderers or rape in it. And if critics can't feel cool when watching a show, then they dismiss it.

Anyway, Amy Sherman-Palladino is one of the top -- I dunno, two, really -- female showrunners in television, in that she's created more than one show. As far as someone in television who can write the shit out of it, I put her up there with the terrific white male showrunners, too.



She was criticized by the other top female showrunner, Shonda Rhimes, for not featuring people of color in BUNHEADS. Sherman-Palladino's response was that given the tight schedule, the tiny budget, and the fact that she needed to find teenagers who could dance AND act, she didn't have the luxury of being able to search for diversity. Then she said that it bothered her that a fellow female showrunner would criticize her. And I gotta say, it's hard to disagree. I'm not sure this is the way to gain any sort of equality. Let's add a few more powerhouses like Shonda Rhimes and Amy Sherman-Palladino and THEN we can demand that they solve every racial and cultural problem in television. Amy Sherman-Palladino can't solve the dearth of minority dancers in ballet companies, either.

Rhimes is to be commended BIG time for a few things -- casting an African American lead on SCANDAL, and having a primarily female writing staff. Sherman-Palladino, though, should also be praised. She wrote and directed the second episode of BUNHEADS. The show is produced by a woman. And the three above-the-line writer/producer credits on the show are all women. The lead is a woman. The teenagers are all young women. KELLY BISHOP IS ON IT. Everywhere you look on the show, there are women. And there is, in fact, an African American woman who is also (GASP! OMG! YOU'RE KIDDING!) not twenty-two. Of course, we didn't see her until the second episode, after the media went after Sherman-Palladino. Seriously, I think there were two guys who had lines this week and one of them was Gregg Henry.

I understand where Shonda Rhimes is coming from. Not that her experience is my experience; she's WAY more successful than I am. But being African American AND a woman in this business isn't easy, and her passion for pushing the issue of race forward to such a degree that it doesn't MATTER anymore is to be commended. These two women should have shows on all the time. I would watch all of them. Like Rhimes, Sherman-Palladino is employing women. AND THAT IS AWESOME. It would be lovely if that were celebrated, but unfortunately, here comes the Goddam media. I guess having to fill the twenty-four hour gossip cycle makes them clutch onto things like this. And clutch they HAVE, just as they clutched when they were attacking Lena Dunham for having wealthy parents, casting other young women of privilege (i.e., young women with notable parents), and making a show about young women.

What this REALLY said was, what the everlovin' FUCK is a comedy about twenty-something girls doing on a critically-acclaimed network like HBO? As we all learned for the seven years that Lauren Graham didn't receive any awards love (not even a fucking NOMINATION) for GILMORE GIRLS, anything created by and focused on women isn't considered good unless the women in it are acting like men.

The media attacked Dunham, and they're attacking Sherman-Palladino, and they really do not understand why this is fucking stupid. Especially since the media made a deservedly big deal earlier this year out of the lack of female staff writers. But that topic was jump-started by Dan Harmon, talking about the COMMUNITY writer's room. The media just got the memo, I guess, that this was what they were going to tweet about that day. And now the memo has gone out that we are going to attack female show creators for whateverthefuck we decide to, whether it be their utter failure to cast the appropriate number of minority characters, or their parentage.


It's funny and strange that Dan Harmon got so much ink (or whatever they're calling ink these days) for hiring female writers. Good for him, I mean, but the media seems more focused on those times white men give women and minorities a chance, rather than actually fucking mentioning the women who ARE running shows and staffing women. Where's the article from one of the many female media critics praising writers like writers like Rhimes and Sherman-Palladino for walking the walk where hiring female writers is concerned? THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN. Whenever women and minorities are given a chance in this business, especially if women and minorities are the ones giving the chances, FUCKING SAY SOMETHING. But God forbid you guys could actually be POSITIVE about something, which is another post that I will probably get to late in 2013, the way things are going.

The media seems to have reached a level of pretension that is almost unfathomable, and that's thanks to the two-way communication we have with social media. Some people seem to have lost sight of where the creativity lies, and where the line is. As one media critic put it: "People tell stories because they want to influence people, or because they have an argument or critique they want to make."

Well THANK you, media critic, for explaining a writer's job. How well you know us, and how utterly CHARMING it is that you would boil down storytelling to something so simple. I sure hope that makes you feel good about yourself, because media critics must always err on the side of cool or people won't like them anymore. Just terrific. Now go count your Twitter followers.