So, Alyssa at Think Progress tipped me off to this really awful interview with Amy Sherman-Palladino where Allison Hope-Weiner basically tried to bait her to get a little media catfight going over the Shonda Rhimes tweet re:Bunheads, and to her credit, Amy refused to play ball, but the interview was kind of a giant rolling sandbag of horror, complete with trans joke.
Basically, the interviewer seems to think that women in positions of power shouldn’t criticise other women in positions of power because they’re all ladies and they need to get along, you know. Under that metric, Shonda Rhimes was out of bounds with her Tweet challenging the lack of racial diversity on the show. Which is…pretty obviously not something I agree with or support at all. I was pretty disgusted by Weiner’s suggestion that women can’t work together because they’re all too focused on number one to support each other, like, way to throw your supposed sisters under the stereotype bus, yo. Sherman-Palladino really reinforced it too with her comments about men and women in the industry and who provides support; it was painfully clear that despite making woman-centred shows, she doesn’t seem to think women are very decent people.
Sherman-Palladino’s rejoinder, that she wouldn’t even criticise another showrunner period, gender aside, also didn’t sit right with me, because the thing about media is that it gets better when it’s challenged and discussed, not when it’s allowed to lie stagnant.
Sherman-Palladino went on to make a big production about how she ‘doesn’t make issue shows,’ which allows her to neatly evade responsibility for any criticisms of her actions, because apparently you need to make after school specials before you need to be accountable for things like -isms in your content or casting.
Yet, at the same time, she wants to be able to point to Gilmore Girls, and potentially to Bunheads, as groundbreaking television because it contains interesting girls and empowerment and strong women. I’d argue that Gilmore Girls was in fact groundbreaking television for precisely that reason—and that makes it, to some extent, ‘an issue show.’ It’s about advancing women on television, showing women in authentic and genuine relationships, creating a woman-centred drama that’s not all about boys. Given the fact that acknowledging that women are people is an uphill battle, a show about women-as-people is an issue show. Sorry, Amy.
She wants to have her cake and eat it too, getting credit for her shows without taking responsibility for them when people have valid criticisms. Like, seriously, not a single actor of colour with ballet skills showed up for casting? Or was it that your casting calls called for Caucasians (as they often do) or the distribution was specifically targeted at white actors?
Below the fold, a transcript of the interview:
Allison Hope-Weiner: Recently there was a Tweet by Shonda Rhimes, who’s the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and also Private Practice, and I know you don’t Twitter or Tweet—
Amy Sherman-Palladino: I do not Twitter, or Tweet—
Allison Hope-Weiner: Uhm—
Amy Sherman-Palladino: I am not a Tweeter!
Allison Hope-Weiner: [laughs] I know
Amy Sherman-Palladino: I have never Twatted in my life.
Allison Hope-Weiner: Anyway, Shonda said: ‘Hey, ABC Bunheads, really, you couldn’t even cast one young dancer of colour so I could feel good about my kid watching this show? Not one?’ And then after getting some feedback, and some flak from the Twitter folks, and many of your fans, and there are many, she did write ‘I love seeing girls of all shapes and sizes, that was great, I am a huge Gilmore Girls fan, just pointing out one issue.’ So she started to uh, kinda paddle backwards. And my feeling is—my question is—do you think that maybe, ah, it was inappropriate for another woman to be writing and criticising another woman showrunner when there are so few on television? And that is sort of what I took from this, but I am curious about what your opinion is.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: Well, look. I’m not going to get into a pissing match with Shonda Rhimes ‘cause she’s got like fifteen thousand shows on the air and she’s doing just fine for herself. And I, I—
Allison Hope-Weiner: And she Tweets.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: And, and she Tweets.
Allison Hope-Weiner: [laughs] And you don’t.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: So I don’t have a sword. Uhm, but, as far as the woman thing goes, I’ve always felt like women have never supported, just in a general sense, women have never supported to the level that they should. And, and, it’s been my experience through my entire career that, that the biggest boosts I’ve gotten, and, and the biggest accolades and help, uhm, have always been from men. And it has not been from women. And I’ve worked for some powerful women, and worked with some powerful women. So, I, I think it’s a shame, but, it’s, to me it is what it is. You know, I feel like maybe it’s they feel it’s too competitive or too…I don’t know, whatever.
Allison Hope-Weiner: And there’s a million shows on the air, there are very few women showrunners, you would think that, that maybe it seems as though Shonda Rhimes doesn’t think there’s room for anybody else. I mean that’s what women do, I think, is that they are so worried about their one spot that they don’t think there could be two people. That’s how it used to be in law firms. When I was in a law firm, there were two women partners. There are still just two women partners. Because they think that there’s only two spots. But if maybe we all worked together, if she didn’t sit there and criticise somebody else, who also has, you know, another hit show, who is like really talented, and, you know, why doesn’t she take a shot at a guy? How about that?
Amy Sherman-Palladino: Look. I don’t know if she—
Allison Hope-Weiner: She could be a man-hater!
Amy Sherman-Palladino: I don’t know what’s in Shondra’s heart.
Allison Hope-Weiner: Yeah
Amy Sherman-Palladino: Uhm, ah—
Allison Hope-Weiner: I think she does a disservice.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: I have never met her before. I have—let me put it a different way. I wouldn’t do it.
Allison Hope-Weiner: Right.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: I wouldn’t go after another woman. Ah, I frankly wouldn’t go after another showrunner. I don’t—it is so hard to get a show on the air. And what you have to do, and the layers of bullshit and fighting and scraping, and…particularly this show, because our budget was very very small, and I…my demands were so high, because I needed to find a certain level of…I needed to find this dance class, and they had to dance at this certain level, and then I had to find four girls who could dance en pointe, and could also act, and could also look—and it it just, it it was a very, and they give you like, a week and a half to do it—
Allison Hope-Weiner: Right
Amy Sherman-Palladino: And that’s how pilots go. And that’s why you start a pilot thinking ‘I would love, you know, David Duchovny to star in my pilot,’ and by the end of it you’re like ‘I would like David Duchovny’s gardener, I think he’s gonna be great, I think he’s gonna like, set the—’
Allison Hope-Weiner: Just like him!
Amy Sherman-Palladino: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of like stuff that goes into putting a pilot on, so to me just the miracle of getting a show on the air…And, a show that has a voice, and, and a show to me that is a—and I don’t do message shows, I don’t give a shit who you learn your life from.
Allison Hope-Weiner: I know.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: I don’t, you know, someone said ‘oh god I hope we don’t see the eating disorder show.’ You won’t. Because I don’t give a flying fuck about that, but it is about interesting girls and empowerment and, and strong women, and strong voices, and it’s hard to get that on the air. So, to have that on the air, and to have people watching it, to have it succeed, is only going to make it easier for the next woman, man, transvestite, whoever it’s gonna be, half and half, uhm, who’s got something special, to put it on the air. If, if something like this can exist, they can point to it and say ‘well look, that exists.’ You know?
Allison Hope-Weiner: Yes.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: And that—
Allison Hope-Weiner: That was a hit.
Amy Sherman-Palladino: That was a hit. And I mean, all I do is point to Gilmore Girls. That’s all I can do. All I can do is go in and go ‘look, for seven years people tuned into this. So maybe there’s something behind this.’