After announcing to TV critics that 100% of its scripted series were created by and are showrun by women, Lifetime introduced a panel conversation with some of those creators and showrunners. Among the questions they got asked:
What’s the primary difference on their series versus a male dominate one: “I don’t have to over-explain myself,” said UnREAL co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro noted. “We just walk in and are taken incredibly seriously.”
Difference between having predominantly female staff on a series, versus predominantly male: “They’re going to be better,” said American Princess creator Jamie Denbo.
Male-led writing rooms tend to: “[spend] so much time presenting women in situations where they are being victimized, which is a narrative I personally am so tired of,” said Mary Kills People creator/showrunner Tara Armstrong.
What they hope the industry gets out of the #MeToo movement: “What I want at the end of this #MeToo movement…is so much more than just a safe working environment for me and my colleagues,” said UnREAL showrunner Stacy Rukeyser. “What I want is to get our shows on the air and get rid of the idea female-run shows are going to be ‘soft’ or get rid of the insistence that female characters are ‘likeable’ which makes them soft. And to get rid of the idea you need a man above you or with you because a woman is going to be too emotional…or any of the other stereotypes out there about women, to handle a $30M plus budget on their own.”
Why women make better showrunners: “Women are better at multi-tasking, and showrunning is multi-tasking on a really high level,” Denbo said, adding, “I f*cking do everything in my house.”
#MeToo movement’s spectrum of behavior: “The illegal acts we’re talking about – it’s easy to know what to do about those,” said Rukeyser, who noted how stunning was Dan Harmon’s mea culpa in which, she said, he acknowledged he would not have done the things of which he was accused had he respect for women. “I was so grateful he was saying that out loud. At least he’s starting from a place of truth,” she said while calling that a “sad state of affairs.”
Insidious side of industry sexism: “It’s really the micro-agressions,” You co-creator/co-showrunner Sera Gambel said. “The way things are over-explained to women,” or the way credit is dispensed in a room and the small slights that happen. “Over time that does wear people down; it silences them.”
Men saying they no longer know what is acceptable behavior: “Men are nervous,” Denbo observed. “I’m so sorry, but there’s a consciousness coming…We’ve been thinking before we speak for a long f*cking time,” she said, speaking for women. “Now it’s your turn.” She suggested a new office policy: “You need to jack off before you come to work.”
And with that, Lifetime ended the panel.