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Gilmore Girls Archives – FutureFemme

Although the nomination announcements are less than 24 hours away, we thought we’d turn our attention to the fierce females of TV today who without a doubt deserve an Emmy Award of their very own.

A plea to the Emmys: Female stars who deserve a nomination

By News

We’re one day away from the 2018 Emmys nominee announcement, and we can’t help but wait on the edge of our seats in apprehension. As is often the case with such prestigious awards ceremonies, this year’s event will no doubt be another exercise in predictability and – as the Emmys is famous for – some rather questionable categories (in no world does it make sense to shove drama and comedy series into one box).

While the organization has certainly improved over the years by increasing the number of nominations in some categories and shaking up its voting processes, as Vox so bluntly put it: “They (Emmys) still stink when it comes to variety, and they make a lot of bad choices.” Notably, there have been many women left out of the running over the years –  and with numerous actresses of the small screen today showing new levels of badassery across the genres, we have no doubt the 2018 nominations will contain some hefty disappointments and glaring holes.

So although the nomination announcements are less than 24 hours away, we thought we’d turn our attention to the fierce females of TV today who without a doubt deserve an Emmy Award of their very own.

Tessa Thompson

An Emmys Best Villain category should be created purely for Tessa Thompson’s depiction of Delos’s Charlotte Hale in HBO’s sci-fi series, Westworld. Thompson depicts a subtle level of evil that rots right to the core with a performance that is surely deserving of one of those little, gold statuettes. Surely.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The title of Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series basically belongs to Phoebe Waller-Bridge for her outstanding comedic voice in the Brit dramedy Fleabag. (Perhaps an alternative Emmy should be handed to Olivia Coleman for her role in the show too, as the complete bitch of a Godmother-turned-stepmother who throws out some of the nastiest insults hidden behind that Cheshire cat smile of hers. She’s a comedic genius, we tell you!)

Issa Rae

Issa Rae

Can two people win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series? If so, we think the second honor should be handed to our primetime fave, Issa Rae, for her HBO hit Insecure. This woman is having her moment and we’re with her every step of the way.

Amy Adams

Amy Adams

We’re 100% jumping the gun with this one, but we don’t care – Amy Adams has proved her serious acting chops in a number of drama films since her jump from romcoms to thrillers, similar to that of Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club). And just like McConaughey, she’s now the center of a gritty noir crime-drama with HBO’s recently released Sharp Objects. If she doesn’t deserve at least a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, we don’t know who does.

Alia Shawkat

Alia Shawkat

Did we mention we love Alia Shawkat and her leading performance in the hilariously dark millennial satire Search Party? Someone give this girl an award – hell, give her all the Emmys! We certainly wouldn’t complain.

Eva Green

Eva Green

It’s been a while since Eva Green wowed us with her turn as the haunting and haunted Vanessa Ives in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, but we thought she’s worth a mention if only to highlight the glaring holes in the Emmys voting process, as Green has never even been nominated. As critic April Neale wrote: “Her work was breathtaking and exemplary for this white-knuckler TV series, and she should have at the very least earned an Emmy nom.”

Constance Wu

Constance Wu

There was a furore a couple of years back when actress Constance Wu from Fresh Off the Boat presented the Emmy Awards, yet wasn’t nominated for an award herself. Her comedic chops on the small screen have been proved time and again and yet still she’s not taken home the gold – there’s always this year to make up for it. Here’s hoping!

Kaitlin Olson

Kaitlin Olson

For some reason, over the years the Emmy voters have forgotten that Kaitlin Olson has been kicking ass as “Sweet Dee” Reynolds on the hit comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. As critic Tim Surette pointed out, this is made all the more frustrating by the fact that the award ceremony seems to have a tough time padding out its Lead Actress in a Comedy category. With another season of the show on the way, there’s still time for this mistake to be rectified – just maybe not this year.

Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham

She might be currently covering the voice for Oxana Hauntley in the kids animated show Vampirina, but we (and many others in the industry) are still of the view that it’s a fallacy Lauren Graham never received even a nomination for her role as the quick-witted Lorelai Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, despite the fact that she so clearly deserved one. It’s okay though, because Graham took home the honor of our hearts instead.

Keri Russell

Keri Russell

Okay, so The Americans star has been nominated twice. But as IndieWire pointed out: “She should be spending her weekends repeatedly fixing the mantle above her cozy cottage fireplace because it can’t hold the weight of her six goddamn Emmys.” The woman shouldn’t be able to walk through her house because of all the statuettes blocking her way. Come on, Emmys – sort your shit out!

This weekend marked the end of the 2018 ATX Festival. With the year that Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large has had, it’s no surprise talks turned to the discussion of women in the workplace.

Why Hollywood’s diversity problem starts in the writers’ room

By News

This weekend marked the end of the 2018 ATX Festival, the annual event that celebrates and showcases the past, present, and future of the television industry. With the year the entertainment industry’s had, it’s no surprise talks turned to the discussion of women in the workplace. Utilizing this period of introspection that follows the sexual harassment scandal regarding disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other industry figures, the power dynamics inside the writers’ room was a resounding theme on Saturday during a panel discussion.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Liz Tigelaar (Little Fires Everywhere), Christopher C. Rogers (Halt and Catch Fire), Shawn Ryan (Timeless), Rina Mimoun (Everwood), and Patrick Sean Smith (Greek), as well as moderator Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) discussed the challenges of finding experienced female writers and giving “difficult” industry women second chances. Opening up about their experiences with diversity issues in the writers’ rooms, the TV showrunners also explained how things are starting to change.

Tigelaar – who is currently working on her upcoming Hulu adaptation Little Fires Everywhere starring Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies) and Kerry Washington (Django Unchained) – said she is looking for diverse voices across the board as she’s staffing the room. “And not in a token way, like I checked a box — but in a deeply substantial way. I’m not just talking about staff writers but co-EPs and others shaping the show.” For example, since the story is largely about motherhood, she’s aiming to have moms, dads, and people who don’t want kids contributing to the script. “I want to round it out in a full way.” This was just one of many examples discussed on Saturday about how the writing rooms are shifting and moving towards inclusivity in every sense of the word. However, this was not always the case.

Frat house environment

ATX Festival

During the 80s and 90s, American production houses attempted to recognize their issue of sexism in the workplace by hiring more female staff, but this led to a new issue – the token woman. As screenwriter and author Debbie Moon declared when discussing an open letter from female screenwriters calling on TV to change, “Female screenwriters have been aware of this for a long time. We all have our war stories. The exec who said ‘We already have a show written by a woman,’ or the commissioner who felt that a female lead wouldn’t appeal to a wide audience. The times we’ve been the only woman in the writing team, routinely talked over and ignored.”

A similar story was discussed by Mimoun at ATX Festival, who recounted a time when she became the token woman on a comedy years ago after the showrunner was forced to hire a female writer by the studio. “It was constant hazing. Naked pictures being drawn of me . . . one rape joke after another.” Luckily there was one showrunner – Greg Berlanti – who fought hard to hand her Everwood when he was ready to move on. “At the time, he (Warner Bros. TV executive Peter Roth) was like, ‘Hell, no,’ but Greg stood up for me and said, ‘Well, she’s doing it.’”

Likewise, Orange Is the New Black’s Jenji Kohan opened up last year about her experiences of sexism in the workplace, suffered when she was a struggling TV writer. In an interview with The New Yorker, Kohan discussed how sexist an environment it was in the writing rooms and how difficult it was as a woman and a new mother. Working in the 90s on shows like Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Sex and the City, Kohan said she experienced years of stunted ambition and Hollywood sexism.

“She had her ‘tit grabbed’; her name was taken off a script. Once, when she was pregnant and about to have a job interview, her agent advised her to wear a big shirt and eat candy, so that the showrunner would think she was just fat. After a pitch meeting for The Larry Sanders Show, her agent told her that the show’s star, Garry Shandling, wasn’t comfortable working with women. ‘I was fired from everything,’ Kohan said.”

These stories mirror the experiences of most female writers – as Moon said, “We all have our war stories.” For UnREAL showrunner Stacy Rukeyser, she described the malecentric writing rooms as resembling a “frat house” and discussed the uncomfortable experience of her two-year job on One Tree Hill when she once had to beg the showrunner not to install a hot tub outside the writers’ room. In her guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Rukeyser explained, “Showrunner Mark Schwahn created, from the top down, a writers’ room that I described at the time, perhaps naively, as a frat house — and that I now see as a misogynistic quagmire.”

Why diversity is important

Lyle Friedman

Over to the big screen, and a recent study highlighted why diversity in the writing rooms is key to recognition on screen. This thesis was tested by 2016 research from TV writer Lyle Friedman, data scientist Matt Daniels, and researcher Ilia Blinderman, who examined four thousand films reviewed on the website that lists movies that do or don’t pass the Bechdel test. For a movie to pass, it must include two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

The team gathered the results from films between 1995 to 2015 from the site, then broke it down in terms of the gender of the writers, producers, and directors on each film. “Their study found that movies in which women were involved in the production were far more likely to pass the Bechdel test,” noted Forbes. “When writing teams are entirely male, about fifty percent of films fail the Bechdel test, the study shows. Add a woman to the team and only a third of films fail. The seven films written entirely by women in their data set all pass the Bechdel test.”

Daniels went on to muse that this might not necessarily relate to overt sexism, but that “these people were just writing about themselves.” This issue translates with regards to how women are represented on screen and how their stories are told. Perhaps no one has made this quite so crystal clear as indie producer Ross Putman, who launched the Twitter account @femscriptintros in 2016 to share some of the most offensive introductions for female characters that he has read in movie scripts over the years. Entries include, “JANE pours her gorgeous figure into a tight dress, slips into her stiletto-heeled fuck-me shoes, and checks herself in the dresser mirror,” and, “JANE, 28, athletic but sexy. A natural beauty. Most days she wears jeans, and she makes them look good.” Clearly if we want female characters with more depth than having the ability to make jeans look good, changes need to be made in the writing room.

A different picture

Liz Tigelaar

Recent years have shown this frat house culture starting to change and this is only set to shift even further as the entertainment industry wakes up to its diversity issue in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal. And it’s not just women who are fighting for these changes – at ATX, when asked how a showrunner can put his or her writers in a position to succeed, Ryan noted the importance of leading by example. “If, in the first day of work, you’re making crude jokes about women sexually or you’re making ethnic jokes, people are going to think that’s how the show is going to run.” Avoiding these jokes is crucial, but so is taking on board a diverse staff. “That means diversity of gender and race, but also geographic diversity and diversity of thought.”

Tigelaar also spoke up and was honest about how she had previously overlooked the importance of diversity. For example, when she was hiring writers for Life Unexpected, she recalls centering on the scripts of those she liked in meetings and the writers who were going to complement each other. “When I thought I was being thoughtful, I was being thoughtless,” she acknowledged. “Now, obviously, I’m thinking about it in a much deeper way.” While there’s still some way to go with regards to gender parity in the writing room, the fact that writers – both male and female – are experiencing introspection and taking action to make changes behind the scenes shows that a shift is occurring and showrunners are moving outside of the traditional system to fill the writers’ room with talent from all walks of life. Not just the “single, white male” slot.