WBEZ | Television http://www.wbez.org/tags/television Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 15 female TV writers you should know http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" jordin="" of="" showtime="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jordin%20Althaus%3AShowtime.jpg" states="" the="" title="Diablo Cody on the set of her Showtime series &quot;The United States of Tara.&quot; (Jordin Althaus/Showtime)" united="" /></div><p>Headlines about women in television can be confusing and contradictory. Some say progress for female TV writers is moving at <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/wga-releases-annual-writing-report-and-women-make-small-progress" target="_blank">a snail&#39;s pace</a>, while others&nbsp;say 2013 is a great year to be a woman breaking into Hollywood&#39;s &quot;cigar-chomping&quot; <a href="http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/2013/08/meet-the-women-who-run-your-favorite-movies-and-tv-shows#slide=1" target="_blank">boy&#39;s club</a>.</p><p>My take? We&#39;ve come a long way since Irma Kalish of &quot;All in the Family&quot; and Susan Harris of &quot;The Golden Girls&quot; first paved the road for women to be taken seriously as TV writers and showrunners, but we still have a long way to go.</p><p>The Hollywood Reporter&nbsp;just announced their&nbsp;annual list of Top 50 Showrunners, and only <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/the-hollywood-reporter-announced-the-top-50-showrunners" target="_blank">10 women</a> (many of them working in teams with men) made the cut.</p><p>Still, just a brief glance at the progress that&#39;s been made &ndash; from Chicago native Agnes Nixon creating the TV <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_Nixon" target="_blank">soap opera</a>&nbsp;in 1968, to Tina Fey becoming the first female head writer at &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot; in 1999, to Lena Dunham inspiring a million <a href="http://splitsider.com/2012/04/24-thinkpieces-about-girls/" target="_blank">Internet think pieces</a> with each zeitgeist-y episode of &quot;Girls&quot; &ndash; is enough to see that times are slowly but surely changing for the better.</p><p>And despite numerous sexist roadblocks that still need to be torn down (shows like &quot;Californication,&quot; and &quot;Veep&quot; <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/03/28/1787671/from-californication-to-veep-the-tv-shows-that-hired-no-women-or-writers-of-color-in-2011-2012/" target="_blank">did not employ a single female writer </a>during their 2011-2012 seasons), plenty of women in television are making waves by taking charge.&nbsp;</p><p>In no particular order, here are 15 groundbreaking female TV writers you should know:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Jenji Kohan</strong></p><p>Kohan started out writing for shows like &quot;Will and Grace,&quot; &quot;Gilmore Girls,&quot; and &quot;Sex and the City;&quot; and in 1997, won an Emmy Award as supervising producer of the HBO sketch comedy series &quot;Tracey Takes On...&quot; In 2005, Kohan become the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the dark comedy &quot;Weeds,&quot; starring Mary Louise Parker, which ran for eight seasons on Showtime. Today, Kohan is the co-creator and executive producer of the Netflix prison dramedy &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenji_Kohan" target="_blank">Orange is the New Black</a>,&quot; which is gearing up for a highly-anticipated Season 2.</p><p><strong>2. Elizabeth Meriwether</strong></p><p>Meriwether is a Yale University graduate who got her start as a playwright before transitioning to film and TV. She got her big break writing the screenplay for the 2011 film &quot;No Strings Attached,&quot;landing her a spot in &quot;<a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/liz-meriwether" target="_blank">The Fempire</a>&quot;&nbsp;next to fellow female screenwriters Dana Fox and Lorene Scafaria. Meriwether went on to write for the Adult Swim series &quot;Children&#39;s Hospital&quot; and is now the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of &quot;New Girl&quot; on Fox.</p><p><strong>3. Michelle Ashford</strong></p><p>Ashford has a long list of writing credits to her name, including two Emmy-winning television miniseries: 2008&#39;s &quot;John Adams&quot; and 2010&#39;s &quot;The Pacific.&quot; However, Ashford&#39;s most prominent role to date is as creator and showrunner of the new Showtime drama &quot;Masters of Sex,&quot; which premiered in September to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Sex" target="_blank">widespread critical acclaim</a> and has already been renewed for a second season in 2014.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Amy Sherman-Palladino</strong></p><p>Sherman-Palladino is best known for creating the whip-smart and heartwarming series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilmore_Girls" target="_blank">Gilmore Girls</a>,&quot; which debuted on The WB in 2000 and became a tentpole for the network. The show that would make huge stars of Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, and Melissa McCarthy later moved to WB&#39;s successor network The CW, where it ended after seven seasons in 2007. Sherman-Palladino went on to create the ballet dramedy &quot;Bunheads&quot; for ABC Family in 2012; but much to fans&#39; disappointment, the series was not renewed for a second season.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Nahnatcha Khan</strong></p><p>Khan has written and produced a slew of creative shows, from the Saturday morning cartoon series &quot;Pepper Ann&quot; to the Seth MacFarlane vehicle &quot;American Dad!&quot; In 2012, Khan created her own ABC sitcom called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Trust_the_B----_in_Apartment_23" target="_blank">Don&#39;t Trust the B---- in Apartment 3</a>,&quot; which, despite its questionable title, turned out to be a shining example of truly great yet underrated comedic television. Unfortunately, not enough viewers tuned in to watch James Van Der Beek play a hilarious washed-up version of himsef, and the show was cancelled after two seasons in January.</p><p><strong>6. Shonda Rhimes</strong></p><p>Rhimes is a Chicago native and graduate of Dartmouth College. She also is the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the long-running ABC medical drama &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; and its shorter-lived spinoff &quot;Private Practice,&quot; as well as creator and showrunner of the current ABC smash hit &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandal_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Scandal</a>.&quot; To date, Rhimes is the first African-American &ndash; man or woman &ndash; to create and produce a top-rated, one-hour series that has run for more than one season. &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; is now in Season 10.</p><p><strong>7. Julie Plec</strong></p><p>Plec graduated from Northwestern University in 1994, and went on to write scripts for Wes Craven&#39;s (&quot;Scream&quot; and &quot;Cursed&quot;) and the ABC Family sci-fi series &quot;Kyle XY.&quot; Plec hit the television big leagues in 2009, when she co-created <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vampire_Diaries" target="_blank">&quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot;</a> with Kevin Williamson for The CW. The supernatural teen drama has become a domestic and international juggernaut, prompting Plec to create a spinoff called &quot;The Originals&quot; in 2013. Plec also co-created a third series for the CW this year: &quot;The Tomorrow People,&quot;&nbsp;based on the popular British science fiction TV series of the same name.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. Liz Sarnoff</strong></p><p>Sarnoff got her start writing episodes of &quot;NYPD Blue&quot; and &quot;Crossing Jordan&quot; before joining the crew of &quot;Deadwood&quot; in 2004 as an executive story editor and writer for Season 1. The following year, Sarnoff joined the writing team of &quot;Lost&quot; in the series&#39; second season, and won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Dramatic Series for her work. She was promoted to co-executive producer of &quot;Lost&quot; for Season 5, and executive producer in the show&#39;s sixth and final season. In 2011, Sarnoff co-created the Fox series &quot;Alcatraz,&quot; an ambitious <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcatraz_(TV_series)" target="_blank">J.J. Abrams-produced prison series</a> that lasted 13 episodes.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. Jane Espenson</strong></p><p>Espenson had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on &quot;Buffy the Vampire Slayer,&quot; followed by work on the sci-fi cult classic &quot;Battlestar Galactica&quot; and its prequel spinoff &quot;Caprica.&quot; In 2010, she wrote an episode of HBO&#39;s &quot;Game of Thrones&quot; and joined the writing staff for Season 4 of the British television program &quot;Torchwood.&quot; Espenson also has written episodes for Joss Whedon&#39;s &quot;Firefly,&quot; &quot;Angel,&quot; &quot;Tru Calling,&quot; and the ABC fairy tale series &quot;Once Upon a Time.&quot; Currently, Espenson is the co-creator, writer, and producer of a sitcom web series called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Husbands_(sitcom)" target="_blank">Husbands</a>,&quot; now in Season 3 on The CW Seed.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Mindy Kaling</strong></p><p>Kaling first joined NBC&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(U.S._TV_series)" target="_blank">The Office</a>&quot; as a writer at the age of 24, and as the only woman on a team of eight. She later took on the role of Kelly Kapoor, while still writing and directing episodes. In 2010, she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series with Greg Daniels for the episode &quot;Niagara.&quot; After &quot;The Office&quot; came to end earlier this year, Kaling became the first South Asian-American woman to create, write, and star in her own network television show: &quot;The Mindy Project,&quot; now in Season 2. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. Ann Biderman</strong></p><p>Biderman won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Drama Series for an episode of the police procedural &quot;NYPD Blue,&quot; and went on to become the creator and executive producer of the &nbsp;NBC/TNT series &quot;Southland.&quot; Now, Biderman is the creator and showrunner of &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Donovan_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Ray Donovan</a>,&quot; a powerful crime drama on Showtime starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. A second season of &quot;Ray Donovan&quot; will air in 2014.</p><p><strong>12. Emily Kapneck</strong></p><p>Kapneck created the popular animated program &quot;As Told by Ginger,&quot; which ran on Nickelodeon from 2000-2009. She also has served as a consulting producer on NBC&#39;s &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot; and is currently the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the ABC sitcom &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburgatory" target="_blank">Suburgatory</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>13. Kay Cannon</strong></p><p>Cannon received her B.A. in Theatre from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill. and trained in improvisation at both The Second City and The I.O. Theater ( formerly ImprovOlympic) in Chicago. She went on to write for the NBC series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kay_Cannon" target="_blank">30 Rock</a>,&quot; winning three Writer&#39;s Guild of America Awards and later a Peabody Award in 2008 for her work on the show. Cannon also wrote the screenplay for the 2012 sleeper hit film &quot;Pitch Perfect.&quot;</p><p><strong>14. Issa Rae</strong></p><p>Rae is the creator of the YouTube comedy series &quot;<a href="http://www.issarae.com" target="_blank">The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl</a>,&quot; in addition to the vlog series &quot;Ratchetplace Theatre&quot; and a collaboration with Black&amp;Sexy TV called &quot;RoomieLoverFriends.&quot; A new comedy series for HBO, co-written with Larry Wilmore and starring Rae, is currently in development.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>15. Diablo Cody</strong></p><p>Cody may be best known for writing the 2007 indie film &quot;Juno,&quot; but the Chicago native also has found a great deal of success in television. She created &quot;The United States of Tara&quot; in 2009, an Emmy-Award winning drama starring Toni Collette that ran for three seasons on Showtime. Cody also has recently been tapped to create a new &quot;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/diablo-cody-and-josh-schwartz-are-developing-a-new,103923/" target="_blank">smart, sassy teen girl drama</a>&quot; for Fox, alongside &quot;The O.C.&quot; producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz.</p><p>To end this list: an adorable video of Amy Poehler interviewing her TV idol, pioneering comedy writer Irma Kalish:</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5seuoKvXvSc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 The future of Chicago film, TV http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/future-chicago-film-tv-109048 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" flickr="" spencer="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Flickr%3ASpencer%20Hughes.jpg" title="Filming an explosion for &quot;Transformers 4.&quot; (Flickr/Spencer Hughes)" transformers="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/meet-the-new-bossyou-get-what-you-pay-for/Content?oid=924074" target="_blank">Illinois Film Office head</a>&nbsp;Betsy Steinberg recently told the <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/illinois-film-industry-booming-tax-breaks-expiring/Content?oid=11339369" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Reader</em></a> that while studios are making fewer films, &quot;a huge influx of episodic television&quot; has been great for job security. &quot;We love our movies,&quot; she adds, &quot;but one season of &#39;Chicago Fire&#39; could easily outspend a blockbuster movie.&quot;</p><p>Steinberg says that six TV series are currently filming in Chicago:</p><ul><li>NBC&#39;s &quot;Chicago PD&quot;</li><li>NBC&#39;s &quot;Chicago Fire&quot;</li><li>ABC&#39;s &quot;Betrayal&quot;</li><li>ABC&#39;s &quot;Mind Games&quot;</li><li>USA network comedy &quot;Sirens&quot;</li><li>NBC&#39;s &quot;Crisis&quot;&nbsp;</li></ul><p>Meanwhile, the blockbuster films that used Chicago as a backdrop in 2013 include:</p><ul><li>the Wachowski&#39;s &quot;Jupiter Ascending&quot;</li><li>Michael Bay&#39;s &quot;Transformers 4&quot;</li><li>the Bollywood musical &quot;Dhoom 3&quot;</li><li>the dystopian thriller &quot;Divergent&quot;&nbsp;</li></ul><p>When asked for comment on this record-breaking year for film and television in Chicago, Steinberg said the success is due in large part to the <a href="http://www.illinois.gov/dceo/whyillinois/Film/FilmTaxCredit/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">Illinois Film Tax Credit</a>, which offers producers a credit of 30 percent of all qualified expenditures.</p><p>&quot;As much as people love to be in Chicago, and as much as Chicago is such an excellent setting for film and television, we wouldn&#39;t have any business without the tax credit,&quot; Steinberg explained, &quot;In today&#39;s climate, with many states competing in the very lucrative film and television industry, our 30 percent tax credit has been instrumental in attracting business.&quot;</p><p>But what will happen when Section 181, the federal film tax benefit that guarantees investors will get back up to <a href="http://dakdan.com/investor_relations.html" target="_blank">75 percent</a>&nbsp;of&nbsp;their investment before a film is even distributed, expires at the end of this year?</p><p>Section 181 has expired before,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/illinois-film-industry-booming-tax-breaks-expiring/Content?oid=11339369" target="_blank">most recently in 2011</a>, and been reinstated. Plus, according to Steinberg, the Illinois Film Tax Credit is much more integral to productions at the state level than Section 181.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m sure there are plenty of producers, especially those who are in a certain range of $15 to $20 million films, who have been relying quite heavily on Section 181,&quot; Steinberg says, &quot;But the type of business that we have been seeing, both in television and with studio movie blockbusters, aren&#39;t really the productions that depend on Section 181.&quot;</p><p>The evolution of <a href="http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com" target="_blank">Cinespace Studios</a>&nbsp;also has played a major role in elevating the Chicago film and TV industry to new heights. Adds Steinberg: &quot;Cinespace has increased the square footage that projects can now use to build huge sets. So basically, because of all this increased space, we can now hold a volume of work never before possible.&quot;</p><p>Still, in a city crammed with raw filmmaking talent and increasingly creative means for distribution, do other alternatives for film and TV production exist?&nbsp;</p><p>Future success may lie in the web series, which has formed a kind of underground scene in Chicago that also has been rapidly gaining traction online.</p><p>&quot;Easy Abby,&quot; a lesbian romcom web series from Chicago-based writer/director Wendy Jo Carlton, recently hit <a href="http://easyabby.com/2013/05/11/easy-abby-hits-5-million-views/" target="_blank">5 million views</a>&nbsp;and has garnered substantial audiences in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, Germany, and the UK.</p><p>Other popular web series filmed in the Chicago area include the <a href="http://funemployedchicago.com/about-us/" target="_blank">millennial comedy</a> &quot;Funemployed,&quot; now in Season 3;&nbsp;&quot;Kam Kardashian,&quot; written up by the Chicago Tribune as &quot;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-25/entertainment/ct-mov-0426-chicago-closeup-20130426_1_minority-status-web-series-kardashians" target="_blank">a web series worth watching</a>;&quot; and &quot;Celestial Bodies,&quot; a live-action&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/CelestialBodiesTV" target="_blank">space adventure</a> show for all ages that features a bevy of Chicago writers, artists, actors, and athletes.</p><p>Coming soon:&nbsp;a new project from award-winning local writer/director <a href="http://www.jasonknade.com/about/" target="_blank">Jason Knade</a> and &quot;My Block, My Hood, My City&quot; from Chicago author&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/738632684/my-block-my-hood-my-city" target="_blank">Jahmal Cole</a>.</p><p>As much as I hope that big-budget TV shows and features will continue to be made in Chicago for many years to come, I&#39;m also excited to see which Kickstarter-funded local web series and indie films will catapult their creators to national or even worldwide stardom.&nbsp;</p><p>After all, wouldn&#39;t it be nice if the resounding refrain from industry professionals was not &quot;You have to move to L.A. to make this happen,&quot; but rather, &quot;Why move to Hollywood when you can do it here?&quot;</p><p><em>Note: A previous version of this story misstated the expiration date of a film tax credit. The text has been updated to correct this error. Additional comment from the Illinois Film Office have also been added to further clarify. </em></p></p> Fri, 01 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/future-chicago-film-tv-109048 Don't ignore the "diversity factor" http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/dont-ignore-diversity-factor-109000 <p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1398363_540486319363338_1251593255_o.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/Sleepy Hollow)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr">I won&rsquo;t say that the only reason why I first tuned into &quot;Scandal&quot; was because there was a character &ndash; the lead character &ndash; that looked like me, but that was certainly a major factor. Television, despite its fluctuating ratings and successes from network to network, has become a larger medium. Its influence and storytelling capabilities have become more influential and more important than films.</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, as the film industry moves closer and closer to a formula that avoids &quot;risk&quot; (whether risk means original storytelling, romantic comedies, or stories featuring women), television &ndash; with its abundance of channels and numerous options available at any given moment &ndash; has become more experimental in its presentation.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">On the surface, it is ridiculous to say &ldquo;adding diversity&rdquo; is a risk. With ensemble casts, it is easy to throw in a black or East Asian face and call it a day. Whether or not the character is interesting or relevant to the show&rsquo;s structure as a whole matters little. Their presence should presumably be enough. But visibility can only go so far. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">It&rsquo;s not a matter of just adding new faces. It&#39;s a matter of showing that these faces are here for a reason, that they matter, that the show could not function without them there. That is a true sign of diversity. That the faces and bodies are different, yes, but also that they are just like anyone else: flawed, charismatic, and central to what makes a show &ldquo;click.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">Few television creators are bucking this trend, but there are noticeable, successful exceptions. Shonda Rhimes, the creator of &quot;Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy,&quot; recently cancelled</span> &quot;Private Practice,<span>&quot; and still rising &quot;Scandal,&quot; has found a formula that works: cast based on talent rather than physical appearance. Her shows regularly feature leads of a variety of different races and ethnicities (not just &ldquo;black,&rdquo; which many lazy executives recognize as the only type of diversity necessary). And by sticking to this formula of casting for quality over race, Rhimes&rsquo; shows have found a home with millions of viewers. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/176301651/Hollywood-Diversity-Brief-Spotlight-2013" target="_blank">A new study</a></span>&nbsp;from the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies reported television shows that featured a cast of 40-50% people of color performed the best in median household ratings in 2011-2012. To boot, casts that were more than 90% white performed the worst, both cable and broadcast television.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">According to a </span><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/08/arts/television/08foge.html?pagewanted=print&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times article</a>, Rhimes &ldquo;didn&#39;t specify the characters&#39; ethnicities,&quot; in the pilot of &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy,&quot; her first show, &quot;so her casting process was wide open.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span>Sandra Oh reportedly shaped her character </span><span>Christina Yang when she walked in the door: </span></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-left:36pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">&ldquo;Even though some network executives assumed Ms. Oh&#39;s hypercompetitive character would be white, Ms. Rhimes did not - in the pilot&#39;s script she wasn&#39;t even given a last name - so all it took was one &quot;fabulous&quot; audition from the &quot;Sideways&quot; star to christen the character Cristina Yang.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">The success of Rhimes&#39; shows have given ABC much needed life. Outside CBS, the remaining three major networks are struggling to create a new hit, yet Rhimes has managed to produce one with nearly every new show.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">More recent examples include FOX&rsquo;s &quot;Sleepy Hollow.&quot; It features black, Hispanic, and Korean-American actors, and was the first new show of the 2013-2014 television season to get an order for a second season. This same formula can be found in movies, such as the &quot;Fast and Furious&quot; films which have become more successful as they get more diverse.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Many young black adults of my generation consider the &#39;90s to be the golden era of diverse TV. It was a time when shows featuring black actors with agency, hopes, fears and character development was a reality. Our childhoods made shows like</span> &quot;Living Single,&quot; &quot;Family Matters,&quot; and &quot;The Fresh Prince of Bel Air&quot; <span>seem like the norm rather than the exception. It seems now our golden era was merely a fluke, a series of network decisions to capture the trend of black people on television and ride it to a final conclusion in which there would be none at all. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">In 2013, the issue is not just about blacks on television, but about a variety of different races, ethnicities, genders, and bodies on television. Our understanding of diversity has expanded since then. Blacks are used as the default because of our history as the country&#39;s largest minority population, but &ldquo;the black factor&rdquo; and the&ldquo;diversity factor&rdquo; remain at issue. If the &#39;90s were the golden era, then the aughts were the draught. In this new decade, let&#39;s reverse the damage.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/dont-ignore-diversity-factor-109000 White characters as 'Trojan Horses' for TV diversity http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-08/white-characters-trojan-horses-tv-diversity-108438 <p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1004764_368545756606882_2083732640_n.jpg" style="height: 422px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/ABC Family)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>As film increasingly becomes an isolating medium, it is through television &ndash; with its numerous channels and multiple platforms for viewing &ndash; that audiences can find actual characters, people with compelling stories that speak to the dark, the somber, the beautiful, and the lovely aspects of what it means to be human.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8">But despite the power and desire to experiment, most television show creators still rely on the same gendered and racial structures that inform and manipulate the mainstream. Audiences find mostly narratives presented through the perspective of white leads (and most often, white male leads), even if people of color are prominent characters or the basis of the show&rsquo;s plot.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8">The ABC Family teen show <a href="https://abcfamily.go.com/shows/twisted" target="_blank"><em>Twisted</em></a> is a murder mystery structured around three leads: Danny Desai, the prime suspect; Lacey Porter, one of Desai&rsquo;s childhood best friends and the most popular girl in school; and Jo Masterson, Desai&rsquo;s other childhood best friend and a social outcast. The show begins on Desai&rsquo;s first day back at school after spending five years in a juvenile detention center for killing his aunt. Desai begins to assimilate with his old friends and within his new school, but is once again the town pariah when a fellow classmate winds up dead the next day.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8">Although the show is about the mystery and whether or not Danny committed the crime, the creators of the program frame the narrative around Jo. Precious screen time is wasted on conversations between Jo and her parents, or Jo and her best friend Rico. Instead, the show should focus on (and is greatly lacking without) its initial premise: whodunit? </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>As of this week&rsquo;s episode, the show&rsquo;s creators have yet to offer a reason the show must focus on Jo. However, looking at the cast may answer the question. Danny is half-Indian with distinctly dark features. Lacey is black. Jo is blonde and white.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8">By focusing on Jo, the show not only does its two other main characters a disservice, it does its audience a disservice. I was drawn to the show because of the murder mystery. Taking time away from that core plot element reduces the show to a whiny drama about how one girl handles her life. As a structure, it&#39;s not compelling and risks turning off viewers.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8">From a business sense, it makes some sense. If ABC Family knows that shows with a white female leads do well in ratings, it only makes sense for them to continue to pursue this storytelling structure. However, it is disingenuous to present a show about three people and spend the largest amount of time focused on one.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8">In a recent NPR interview, Jenji Kohan, the creator of <em>Orange is the New Black</em> confirmed the idea that her show about the rich characters within and the culture of a women&rsquo;s prison could not sell without a white woman as the protagonist. On the show, Piper is sent to prison for her minor role in a drug conspiracy. Especially during the first episodes of the show, the prison is seen through Piper&rsquo;s eyes. Although this is understandable based on the show&rsquo;s memoir source material, it becomes evident as the show progresses that the most compelling characters and stories have little, if anything, to do with Piper.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8">In the interview, Kohan <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/08/13/211639989/orange-creator-jenji-kohan-piper-was-my-trojan-horse" target="_blank">said</a>:</span></p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-231c139d-8733-7479-2986-b505fa4ff1f8">In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan Horse. You&#39;re not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it&#39;s a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially. The girl next door, the cool blonde, is a very easy access point, and it&#39;s relatable for a lot of audiences and a lot of networks looking for a certain demographic. It&#39;s useful.</span></p></blockquote><p>Unlike most creators, Kohan has acknowledged this structure and how she had to simply work within it in the beginning in order to tell the stories that could never &ldquo;sell&rdquo; on their own.&nbsp;</p><p>Whiteness is the neutral storyteller. Through the prism of whiteness, creators can focus on people of color.&nbsp;<em>Orange is the New Black</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Twisted</em>&nbsp;are not part of a new trend. Rather, they are merely new shows to add to a long list of shows that have employed this same technique.&nbsp;</p><p>It is important then to recognize the significance of Issa Rae&rsquo;s (creator of <em>The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl</em>) recent&nbsp;<a href="http://www.deadline.com/2013/08/hbo-developing-comedy-series-from-larry-wilmore-issa-rae-to-star-rae/" target="_blank">development deal</a> with HBO. In partnership with Larry Wilmore, Rae would write, produce, and star in a show. As a black woman, a black creator, this sort of creative freedom is unparalleled on television period, let alone a premium cable network as prestigious as HBO. Although no show has been ordered for a series run or even to pilot, this news is hopeful in what it says is possible: creators of color can tell their own stories through their own eyes.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the state of television. She also writes about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 19 Aug 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-08/white-characters-trojan-horses-tv-diversity-108438 For television, Twitter is the new live water cooler conversation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-08/television-twitter-new-live-water-cooler-conversation-108332 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1017181_141685442694900_462625651_n.jpg" style="width: 600px;" title="(Facebook/Orange is the New Black)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">The only thing busier than my Twitter timeline during a live airing of MTV&rsquo;s &quot;Catfish&quot; is my Twitter timeline during a live airing of ABC&rsquo;s &quot;Scandal.&quot; Both shows illicit the sort of rabid fan response that can turn outsiders into insiders. </span></p><p dir="ltr">The same thing also recently happened with the release of Netflix&rsquo;s &quot;Orange is the New Black.&quot; Despite breaking the format of traditional network television by releasing a complete season at once, for a few days after, #OITNB was a trending topic.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">Not every show can create this sort of fire. Nielsen recently released a study called <a href="http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2013/the-follow-back--understanding-the-two-way-causal-influence-betw.html">&ldquo;The Follow-Back&rdquo;</a> that analyzed TV ratings and accompanying tweets. It found&nbsp;</span>Twitter messages were shown to cause a &ldquo;significant increase&rdquo; in ratings 29 percent of the time.</p><p dir="ltr">This was especially true for competitive/reality-based television shows, sports, and comedies. &quot;Catfish&quot; corresponds with their findings, but why do shows like &quot;Orange is the New Black&quot; and &quot;Scandal&quot;&nbsp;also have such significant representation in the Twittersphere?</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">Unlike other network dramas, both &quot;Orange is the New Black&quot; and &quot;Scandal&quot; inhabit a special quality often missing: the ability to aggressively interact with viewers. With &quot;Orange is the New Black,&quot; the interaction lies in the ways in which we can view it.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr">Its release is made for binge watching. But rather than discovering the show on one&rsquo;s own time, it&rsquo;s calculated release and critical acclaim escalated its appeal. Consumers could read a positive review from <em>The New Yorker</em>&rsquo;s Emily Nussbaum, and then curl up with all 13 episodes.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BCjXolgCUAAnFlq.png" style="height: 241px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="(Twitter/darbystnchfld)" />With &quot;Scandal,&quot; the interaction lies with the wild plot lines that dive from one extreme to the next. But like &quot;Catfish&quot; and &quot;Orange is the New Black,&quot; this show&#39;s&nbsp;plot lines make you want to talk about them.<br /><br />In <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=185534670" target="_blank">an interview</a> with Michelle Martin about &quot;Scandal&rsquo;s&quot;&nbsp;Twitter popularity, Gene Demby of&nbsp;NPR&#39;s Code Switch said, &ldquo;It&#39;s like watching the Super Bowl on DVR, right? You want to be in the room with everyone kind of yelling at the screen and rolling their eyes and throwing their hands up and saying all kinds of snarky stuff.&rdquo;<br /><br />There is information to decipher, but unlike a show like &quot;Mad Men&quot; that often requires research to understand its layers of references to things like &quot;Dante&rsquo;s Inferno&quot; or &quot;Rosemary&rsquo;s Baby,&quot; these shows keep you glued to their characters&nbsp;</span>&mdash; what they do and don&rsquo;t say and what will ultimately happen to them. It&rsquo;s almost impossible to not engage.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">The fever of their fandom inspires other people to both start watching the show and to participate in the discussion. I only watched a handful of prior episodes before I started watching the current season of &quot;Catfish.&quot; But while scanning my Twitter feed during the premiere of the first episode, I noticed most people were talking about only one thing: what was happening on their screens. Soon enough, I began participating at well. There was no desire to try and &ldquo;fit in&rdquo; with the discussion at hand; rather the action of the screen was so compelling that there was little I could hold back.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">We consume television in a fractured state. The UK drama &quot;Skins&quot; ended on Monday after seven seasons. I have never watched an episode on my television. Instead, I relied on illegal streaming websites to fuel my passion for a show that perfectly encapsulates the confusion, desire, and melancholy of being a young person. </span></p><p dir="ltr">Other shows I save for massive DVR viewings. If I miss an episode of a favorite series, I can wait until the next morning to find a clear stream on the network&rsquo;s website. And for shows that slipped between my fingers during the regular television season, there are always rentable DVDs. This is Netflix&rsquo;s bread and butter.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">In that sense, social media as a place of community helps fuel the lost group aspect of television watching. Twitter connects TV to its live, collective habits. It is a reminder that entertainment can be even greater when matched with others who equally care about it. </span></p><p dir="ltr">My family and I often watched shows together in my parents&rsquo; bedroom. When we got older and busier, this fell away, but my sister and I still found time to watch our favorite shows together and pause our viewings to comment on the situations before us.</p><p dir="ltr">I live alone now and I didn&rsquo;t realize I missed this social interaction. But with the release of shows like &quot;Scandal&quot;&nbsp;or &quot;Orange is the New Black,&quot; I am finding that the social (with family, with friends and strangers, too) is merely a few clicks away.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">What is your favorite TV show to engage with online? Let us know in the comments section. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&quot;Catfish&quot; airs Tuesdays at 9pm CST on MTV. &quot;Orange is the New Black&quot; is available on Netflix Instant Streaming. &quot;Scandal&quot; returns in the fall to ABC on Thursdays at 9pm CST.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;writes about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 08 Aug 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-08/television-twitter-new-live-water-cooler-conversation-108332 'Big Brother' 15: an opportunity to discuss discrimination of all forms http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-07/big-brother-15-opportunity-discuss-discrimination-all-forms-108178 <p><div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/big-brother-768.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(CBS)" /></div></div><div>&#39;Only what can be seen can be considered real. Reality is not based on what you tell me, but what I choose to see and believe and recognize. Everything else holds no place in my world. &#39;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This mindset appears on the surface to be harmless enough, but when it comes to forms of discrimination and prejudice, the voice of the narrator is far too often considered as unbelievable as the events themselves. As a society, we have been taught to recognize homophobia or racism or sexism in as blatant of terms as possible, and ignore the smaller things.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When I was younger, I had a friend who had a difficult time understanding the microagressions I faced in my seemingly diverse school. <a href="http://www.div17.org/TAAR/media/topics/microaggressions.php" target="_blank">According to TAARM</a> (Taking Action Against Racism in the Media), microagressions are, &ldquo;brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults towards people of color. Those who inflict racial microaggressions are often unaware that they have done anything to harm another person.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Are you sure you&rsquo;re not just over thinking things?&rdquo; she would ask when, for example, during regulated classroom debates or discussions, my teacher would call me &ldquo;aggressive,&rdquo; &ldquo;angry,&rdquo; and &ldquo;confrontational&rdquo; whenever I disagreed with a fellow classmate.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;What else do I need to prove my point?&rdquo; I would ask her. &ldquo;A burning cross?&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was not until my parents came to see him that he &ndash; a seemingly &ldquo;perfect&rdquo; far-left liberal &ndash; recognized that his words spoken in front of the entire class were problematic, at best, and emotionally crippling at worst.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels/changing-channels-podcast" target="_blank">the first episode</a> of WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank"><em>Changing Channels</em></a> podcast, I said that <em>Big Brother</em> was one of my most anticipated shows of the summer. Like every other summer, I looked forward to the drama, manipulations, and lies of the <em>Big Brother</em> house guests. Hurtful comments are a given on a show in which contestants compete in challenges in order to eat good food, control what happens in the house, and avoid losing out on a $500,000 grand prize.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I have been a secret fan of the reality competition since it began and regularly troll online forums like <a href="http://Jokersupdates.com" target="_blank">Jokersupdates.com</a> or <a href="http://ONTDBB.tumblr.com" target="_blank">ONTDBB</a> for the latest information about the house guests. Season 15 began in late June and features a standard cast (beautiful, young, athletic, slightly diverse). What has not been &ldquo;standard,&rdquo; however, is the <a href="http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/06/big-brother-15-house-the-racism-misogyny-and-homophobia-comes-out.html" target="_blank">abundance</a> of racist, homophobic, ableist, and sexist <a href="http://forums.jokersupdates.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Board=BBDiscussion&amp;Number=19470364" target="_blank">comments</a> uttered by the house guests (seen above). In seasons past, such low level attacks were rarely seen (at least on the CBS broadcast) and if they occurred, they were usually only said by one or two house guests at most.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This season has included offensive comments from numerous house guests, like Aaryn who said, when Helen, a Korean-American contestant was crying, that she should &ldquo;shut up, go make some rice.&rdquo; Or Spencer, who has referred to Andy, a gay contestant (and local Chicagoan) as a f-- and women in the house as c---s. Additional comments from four other contestants (Ginamarie, Jeremy, Kaitlin, and Amanda) have sullied the mood of the house.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The comments have sparked outrage among the public. A <a href="https://www.change.org/petitions/cbs-television-network-to-expel-current-contestant-of-big-brother-15-aaryn-gries" target="_blank">petition</a> to remove the most problematic house guest was created and both Aaryn and <a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/07/03/big-brother-ginamarie-zimmerman-loses-job-racist-comments/" target="_blank">Ginamarie</a> have been fired or dropped from their jobs outside of the house.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But similar to the Paula Deen fiasco, the public outrage reflects the ways in which we dissect offensive behavior: go big or go home.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We obviously should be talking about the problems with such statements. Although the term microagression is typically applied toward racially or ethnically-charged incidents, the act in itself can be applied to other marginalized populations. It&rsquo;s disappointing to think that a greater public outcry does not occur when smaller acts of racism or homophobia or sexism or ableism occur on television.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This diminishes the impact of incidences such as microaggressions. It pretends that racism or sexism or homophobia or ableism only exist when they play into our mainstream ideas of what racism or sexism or homophobia actually are. There is no racism unless the n-word is dropped. There is no sexism unless it is in the law to discriminate based on gender. There is no homophobia unless it is coupled with violence. Essentially, there is no discrimination until those outside of the marginalized group &ldquo;recognize&rdquo; it as so.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Big Brother controversy provides an ample opportunity for more media outlets to not only report on the nastiness and the the outrage, but to also spark further discussion on how these statements are not just &ldquo;flukes&rdquo; of the house.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a recent interview, newly evicted house guest Jeremy claimed that, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not racist, sexist, or homophobic&rdquo; despite the fact that he regularly called the women in the house &ldquo;bitches.&rdquo; If the house guests can&rsquo;t even recognize it when they do it, how can we expect people in other situations to recognize it when they witness it?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the media, we can&#39;t just say, &quot;this is bad.&quot; We must also say, &quot;this is an example of the way some people think,&quot; and ask, &quot;What can we do to help end this?&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In order to better eradicate racism, homophobia, ableism, and sexism, we must actively recognize all forms of them, from the brief and commonplace forms of &ldquo;hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults,&rdquo; to the aggressive and confrontational interactions we read as offensive. And more importantly, we must also listen to and trust those who report when such aggressions &ndash; of all shapes and sizes &ndash; occur. Willful ignorance is no longer acceptable. In truth, it has never been okay.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em><strong>Britt Julious</strong>&nbsp;writes about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-07/big-brother-15-opportunity-discuss-discrimination-all-forms-108178 List: My current DVR pileups http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-06/list-my-current-dvr-pileups-107518 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-31ac3e80-0fc5-557e-8dd0-ca2a37c74e4a"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2472172031_49508736c3.jpg" style="float: right; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="Flickr/trainman74 " />Community (4)</p><p dir="ltr">30 for 30 (7)</p><p dir="ltr">Conan (2)</p><p dir="ltr">Frontline (5)</p><p>Eagleheart (2)</p><p>What are yours?</p><p><em>Follow Claire Zulkey&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a></em></p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 10:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-06/list-my-current-dvr-pileups-107518 It's OK to love Shonda Rhimes' television shows http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/its-ok-love-shonda-rhimes-television-shows-107128 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120110152184 (1).jpg" title="Showrunner and producer Shonda Rhimes (left) with 'Scandal' star Kerry Washington. (AP/Chris Pizzello)" /></div><p>Shonda Rhimes is important. She is critical. That it has taken the <a href="http://t.co/jULNPbAiIH" target="_blank"><strong>mainstream media</strong></a>&nbsp;this many years to discover and talk about this speaks to the ways in which we discuss the creation of entertainment and the systems within the entertainment industry itself. The entertainment industry is male-dominanted, exclusive, and isolationary.</p><p>Shonda Rhimes &ndash; a writer, producer, and showrunner who at one time maintained three successful television shows (<em>Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal</em>) at the same time on one network &ndash; bucks this industry standard, instead creating work that is inclusive, unique, feminine and fun. These traits are not typically used to describe Important Television, but Rhimes&rsquo; rate of success over failure, fandom over derision, deserves further examination and praise.</p><p>Shonda Rhimes is a feminist. She might not say it explicitly, but it can be seen in her shows. They stem from a female perspective. This is a reflection of Rhimes herself. She is a female writer, producer, and showrunner, an extreme rarity seen only in a handful of recent examples (Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling most notably). Rhimes controls the content of her shows. They are born out of her vision.</p><p>And it is her vision that turned many from indifferent to appreciative. Rhimes&rsquo; shows feature female lead characters. This strong vision can be seen through the actions of her characters &ndash; their decisions to openly discuss and have abortions, their struggles over life choices in work and home life &ndash; and even the conceit of the shows themselves. She explores their inner lives, desires, wants, and concerns and takes them seriously.</p><p>Audiences witnessed <em>Grey&#39;s Anatomy</em>&#39;s Christina Yang&rsquo;s (Sandra Oh) forthright desire to have an abortion when pregnant. The first time, she suffered a miscarriage before the procedure. The second time, years later, she underwent the procedure, never wavering from her desire to not be a parent. That millions of viewers saw this on primetime television and the world did not implode shows that Rhimes&rsquo; vision is a reflection of the very real inner lives and actions of many contemporary women. Her audiences can appreciate such storylines because they are true and because they are given the respect they deserve.</p><p>As well, Rhimes&rsquo; shows are diverse, something that is still a rarity on mainstream television and in Hollywood in general. Her latest show, <em>Scandal</em>, features a black female lead portrayed by Kerry Washington. Earlier this year, when reflecting on the importance of <em>Scandal</em>&rsquo;s Olivia Pope, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/praise-messiness-scandals-olivia-pope-105271" target="_blank">I wrote</a>:</p><blockquote><p>Depictions of black characters in film and television especially usually fall into one of a limited number of tropes: the tragic, the sassy, the perfect. Olivia does not fit neatly into any one category. She is a woman in the wrong kind of relationship, one that is forbidden and heartbreaking. She is smart and authoritative and strong in self-assuredness. When she is right, she is very right and she will let you know it.</p></blockquote><p>This same characterization can be seen throughout her shows. The characters are messy and complicated. Their decisions are often riddled with holes and major consequences. Like real life, Rhimes understands that these are choices people make &ndash; white or black, young or old &ndash; and the things we normally consider their otherness have little bearing on the matter. She does not treat diversity as if it&rsquo;s something to dwell on. The experiences of the average person of color do not revolve around their race, ethnicity, gender, or other factor that makes them a minority. Rather, their experiences are just like those considered a part of the mainstream. When race is brought up, it is done casually and pointedly, not overwrought.</p><p>But most importantly, Rhimes&rsquo; shows are fun. Although <em>Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy</em> has diminished in quality the longer it has been on the air, the show in its earliest state (and <em>Scandal</em> in its current state) was an engaging, exciting, and unique program. <em>Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy</em>, currently in its ninth season, continues to outperform many new and established broadcast television shows.<em> Scandal</em> <a href="http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/ratings-rat-race-idol-rises-scandal-hits-series-high-glee-two-men-finales-down-office-up/" target="_blank">reached its series high</a> this week.</p><p>Important Television can and should be fun. Yes, audiences desire something plot-driven, well thought-out and rich, but they also desire something to keep them coming back week to week. Rhimes succeeds where others fail. If we desire a future entertainment industry that reflects the diversity and stories of the world we live in, we should do more to praise those such as Rhimes who actively work to reflect that world.</p><p><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for <a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank"><strong>WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</strong></a> or on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank"><strong>@britticisms</strong></a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 10 May 2013 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/its-ok-love-shonda-rhimes-television-shows-107128 Interview with 'Sexy Feminism' co-author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/interview-sexy-feminism-co-author-jennifer-keishin-armstrong-106958 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JKA%20author%20photo%20official.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Jennifer Kieshin Armstrong (Photo courtesy A. Jesse Jiryu Davis)" />I chat with a homegirl today, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs before moving to New York, where she spent a decade on staff at <em>Entertainment Weekly,&nbsp;</em>cofounded SexyFeminist.com, and now writes for several publications, including <em>Women&rsquo;s Health, Runner&rsquo;s World, Writer&rsquo;s Digest, Fast Company, </em>and <em>New York</em>&lsquo;s Vulture. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong&#39;s history of <em>The Mary Tyler Moore Show</em>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Lou-Rhoda-Ted-History/dp/1451659202/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1345127707&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=mary+and+lou+and+ted+and+rhoda" target="_blank"><em>Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted</em></a>, is coming out on Tuesday, while&nbsp; her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, <a href="http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/about-girls-just-wanna-have-success-style-and-love-heres-how-being-a-sexy-feminist-can-make-it-happen/" target="_blank"><em>Sexy Feminism</em></a>, was released earlier this year. She has provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, A&amp;E, and ABC and teaches for Gotham Writers&#39; Workshop. You can learn a lot more about her <a href="http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/" target="_blank">here</a>.</div><p dir="ltr"><strong>I&rsquo;m guilty of this myself but often, women criticize other women&rsquo;s definitions of feminism. What were some criticisms you anticipated people lobbing towards <em>Sexy Feminism</em> that you wanted to head off at the pass and address within it? </strong><br />We knew when we named our website <a href="http://sexyfeminist.com/">Sexy Feminist</a> (and then our book Sexy Feminism) that we were being a little, you know, provocative. But we knew it would start specific discussions, and we were right. Our thing is that we&#39;re definitely NOT delineating ourselves from other feminists somehow&mdash;you know, we&#39;re sexy feminists, and the others aren&#39;t&mdash;but we&#39;re saying that, despite continued misperception, ALL feminism is sexy. And we&#39;ll stop calling our website Sexy Feminist when everyone gets that. The idea is to stop people who have not necessarily identified as feminists but who are feminist-curious to look at the book or the site and want to learn more.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Tell me about the cover of the book: what were some other possibilities (if any) that were considered?</strong><br />The only other possibility we got from the publisher was a very straightforward cover with no photos or graphics, which we thought was a little ... less than exciting, given the provocative name. This was the alternative we ended up with after sharing that feedback with them, and we felt okay about it. It&#39;s attention-grabbing, and that lipgloss is so fantastic that I ended up going out to hunt down anything I could find at Sephora that came close. (Hot tip: <a href="http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?skuId=2220263&amp;productId=xlsImpprod2430005&amp;navAction=push&amp;navCount=1">Tarte&#39;s lip crayon in &quot;Enchanted&quot;</a> is my new favorite toy, and Tarte is one of our feminist-friendly cosmetic companies named in the book. Win win!)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What do you think are examples of pop culture that got feminism right both in terms of definition/idealism but also by demonstrating it in an everyday, practical way?</strong><br />I feel a professional obligation to say this, but I also believe it: <a href="http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/about-mary-and-lou-and-rhoda-and-ted/">The Mary Tyler Moore Show</a>. They weren&#39;t trying to be feminist, but the movement was so much in the air at the time, and they had so many feminist-identified women writing for the show, that it came through. I always say Mary Richards was the original Sexy Feminist. She really came into her empowerment throughout the series, and we saw her argue for equal pay to her male predecessor, we saw her talk about the pressures of being the only woman in the newsroom, and we saw her (mostly in later years) assert herself strongly with men. In one of the last episodes, she even asked Lou Grant out. It didn&#39;t work out, but still.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>You&rsquo;ve written books about <em>The Mary Tyler Moore Show</em> and <a href="http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/about-my-book/">the <em>Mickey Mouse Club</em></a>. What are some books about shows you&rsquo;d read if they were written &nbsp;(but don&rsquo;t want to write yourself?)</strong><br />I love this question, because I can tell you that when figuring out my next book (which is now officially <em>Seinfeld</em>) I basically just pored over lists of TV shows. The ones I feel like I definitely can&#39;t tackle are sci-fi shows: I love some of them but don&#39;t have the geek-level knowledge required. So I think about stuff like <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer </em>or <em>Lost</em>. Those are the two that I think could hold up to book treatment, but I&#39;m not necessarily the right author for them.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Tell me about what you do as a career coach/consultant. And what do you do when you feel like you need consulting?</strong><br />I&#39;m very good at running other people&#39;s lives! Actually, I have to admit I think I&#39;ve had a pretty good run in my own career so far, and I really do like helping other people figure out how to make those key decisions that can make a difference. Most of the time, it&#39;s that people are simply frozen into inaction by fear&mdash;fear of failing, fear of succeeding. And writing, in particular, is such a baffling career path full of constant decisions. You don&#39;t just take the corporate job and then wait 50 years so you can get your gold watch. So I can talk to clients about everything from getting their first few publication credits to moving to the next level of publications to getting an agent or going freelance full-time. It&#39;s funny you ask about what I do when I need consulting, because I&#39;ve just recently started feeling that itch, like, okay, what now? I&#39;ve started looking for mentors to befriend so I can ask them for a little advice in exchange for a few rounds of drinks; I also went to a great conference last week run by ASJA, and got tons of ideas for ways to advance my career more.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What&rsquo;s something really unfeminist that you like? (Sometimes I dance to really misogynistic music.)</strong><br />Oh, man, I do love me some &quot;In da Club&quot; and &quot;Big Pimpin.&#39;&quot; They&#39;re just good songs. I also happen to really enjoy watching <em>The Bachelor</em>/<em>Bachelorette</em>. I always say I will allow myself to watch them because I have studied media and feminism enough that I watch them with a (very) critical lens, and because I don&#39;t personally have a Nielsen box, so I&#39;m not actually affecting the ratings. If I get a Nielsen box, it must stop immediately.<br /><br /><strong>When you worked at <em>Entertainment Weekly</em>, which fanbases tended to respond most rabidly when you wrote about their favorite show/artist/movie etc?</strong><br />Well, despite my claims that I couldn&#39;t write a whole <em>Lost</em> book, I did do some reporting on <em>Lost</em> in my day, and, you know, you can imagine that fan base. But more surprisingly, people get just as into their <em>Grey&#39;s Anatomy</em>, for instance. I used to recap that and couldn&#39;t ever read the message board comments. They were very, very passionate, and channeled that passion into being not-always-kind to me.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Who are some of your favorite sexy feminists in pop culture (and you cannot name either Tina Fey or Amy Poehler.)</strong><br />Ha! Those ladies do rule, but I&#39;ve been totally enamored of Lena Dunham of late. If you watch or read her interviews, man, that girl is scary smart. And a totally out-and-proud feminist. She takes the loads of criticism of her work quite beautifully, and I think her constant nakedness onscreen really is revolutionary the way she does it. We truly do need to see more body types besides 90 pounds and 5-foot-10 with Olympic-level abs. I also adore Mindy Kaling, and her show does a lot of subtly feminist things: Her character is great at her job and clearly smart, even though she&#39;s a little boy crazy and talks like a teenager. But more importantly, she has this insane sexual confidence that I think makes her a strangely wonderful role model to young women. Also, she&#39;s unbelievably funny, in her own way.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>You&rsquo;ve worked with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-wood/">Heather Wood</a> for a long time (<a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/mbtoolbox/pop-quiz-jennifer-armstrong_b1721">back when I interviewed you for MBToolBox about Sirens Mag</a>.) Why do you two work so well together and what tips do you have for working with a longtime collaborator?</strong><br />We definitely just have that mind-meld thing happening. We&#39;re each totally comfortable letting the other speak on our behalf as a team. I&#39;m an independent spirit, but it&#39;s nice to have a collaborator to fall back on sometimes when your life gets crazy with book deadlines or personal stuff. It&#39;s the best when I log onto the site and see that she&#39;s posted new content or edited a piece I&#39;d been neglecting. We can talk each other off professional ledges sometimes, too. The main thing is to treat it almost like a romantic relationship. Keep lines of communication open and constantly express appreciation. One of the things I&#39;ve noticed we automatically do, and I like, is to always thank each other. If she sees that I put up a new post, she thanks me. If she does our taxes, I thank her. I&#39;ve actually carried this over into my romantic relationship, and it works wonders!</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How does it feel to be the 347th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />I feel really good about that number. There&#39;s something auspicious about it.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Follow Claire Zulkey <a href="http://twitter.com/Zulkey" target="_blank">@zulkey</a>, check out previous interviews <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/interviews.php">here</a> or see her at <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/funnyhaha.php">Funny Ha-Ha</a> tonight.</em></p></p> Fri, 03 May 2013 08:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/interview-sexy-feminism-co-author-jennifer-keishin-armstrong-106958 The 'Mad Men' complex http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-04/mad-men-complex-106528 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mad%20Men%202_0.jpg" title="Don and Megan Draper get steamy in a promo still for 'Mad Men.' (AMC)" /></p><p>The hit AMC drama&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804503/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Mad Men</a>&nbsp;</em>returned for a&nbsp;sixth season&nbsp;on&nbsp;Sunday night, and fans flocked to viewing parties all over the country to celebrate the occasion. In Chicago, venues like the Public Hotel and Logan Theatre opened their doors for late-night soirees, serving retro cocktails on the rocks and welcoming&nbsp;<em>Mad Men&nbsp;</em>enthusiasts in their <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130408/logan-square/mad-men-fans-dress-up-for-season-premiere-at-logan-theatre/slideshow/369724" target="_blank">finest sixties attire</a>.</p><p>After <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_Mad_Men" target="_blank">four consecutive</a>&nbsp;Emmy wins for Best Drama and a popular <a href="http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/04/mad-mens-megan-draper-serves-as-banana-republics-mad-for-mod-muse.html" target="_blank">Banana Republic</a> clothing line, the show has a rightful position in our cultural zeitgest alongside other fan-favorites like <em>Breaking Bad</em>,&nbsp;<em>Downton Abbey</em> and<em> Game of Thrones</em>. The episodes are very well written, beautifully filmed and certainly indicative of the times.</p><p>Still, I find myself wondering: why do members of my generation in particular (those gosh darn <a href="http://www.thenextgreatgeneration.com/2010/08/why-millennials-love-mad-men/" target="_blank">millenials</a>)&nbsp;romanticize a philandering cad like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/blogs/pop-vox/2009/08/17/why-the-ladies-love-jon-hamm-of-mad-men.html" target="_blank">Don Draper</a>&nbsp;and gloss over the unfair treatment of almost everyone else on the show who isn&#39;t a straight white male?</p><p><i>Mad</i> fans tend to put Don on a pedestal as the ultimate&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/the-purple-fig/being-in-love-with-bad-boys_b_2718561.html" target="_blank">man-ly man</a>:&nbsp;the square-jawed <a href="http://observer.com/2013/01/bad-men-tvs-most-reprehensible-antiheroes-and-the-women-who-love-them/" target="_blank">anti-hero</a>&nbsp;who makes women&nbsp;<a href="http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/relationships/why-we-shouldnt-want-to-date-don-draper-but-still-do-287503.html" target="_blank">swoon</a>&nbsp;against their better judgment and prompts modern-day guys to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.askmen.com/money/career_300/307_career-tips-from-don-draper.html" target="_blank">take notes</a>.&nbsp;The&nbsp;alpha-male chauvinsim of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce feeds on a <a href="http://seniorplanet.org/we-survived-60s-sexism-a-look-back-at-the-mad-men-era/" target="_blank">sexist environment</a> that could never exist today; and yet, my&nbsp;<em>Mad Men</em>-obsessed friends (and many <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804503/board/thread/205661476" target="_blank">online commentators</a>) enjoy the &quot;harmless&quot; <a href="http://www.askmen.com/top_10/entertainment/top-10-things-imad-meni-could-do-that-we-cant-and-wish-we-could.html" target="_blank">voyeuristic</a> experience of watching these white male ad execs get away with everything they can&#39;t do in real life.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" audiences="" became="" betty="" class="image-original_image" hate="" her.="" in="" loved="" more="" season="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fat%20betty.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 320px; float: left; " the="" title="The more unstable 'Fat Betty' became in Season 5, the more audiences loved to hate her. (AMC)" to="" /></div><p><em>Mad Men</em>&nbsp;devotees gravitate towards Don and repel his ex-wife <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betty_Draper" target="_blank">Betty</a>, even though their vices (rampant alcoholism and extramarital affairs for him, awful parenting and mental instability for her) shouldn&#39;t make any one the &quot;villain&quot; over the other.</p><p>Jon Hamm&#39;s inherent likability as an actor versus January Jones&#39; regrettable <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/04/30/tvs_gift_to_bad_actors/" target="_blank">stiffness</a> probably doesn&#39;t help matters; but from a logical standpoint, shouldn&#39;t viewers have a little more contempt for the cheating husband and a little more compassion for the wife he discarded? The fact that most people I know (male and female) have zero sympathy for Betty, yet easily forgive Don for all of his flaws, is more than a little disconcerting.</p><p>&quot;I miss the old Don,&quot; was a common thread on <em>Mad Men</em> <a href="http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/03/26/mad-men-megan/" target="_blank">forums</a>&nbsp;last year,&nbsp;with commenters agreeing that &quot;Don is a liar and cheat...and we like him that way!&quot; and cheering when he strayed from second wife Megan at the end of Season 5. Again, what is it about womanizing Don that keeps viewers coming back for more? Is he living some kind of fantasy that other men only wish they could pursue? Everyone loves a good anti-hero (take Walter White of <em>Breaking Bad</em>, for example) but sometimes I wonder why audiences like &quot;unlikeable&quot; characters so much in the first place.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peggy_Olson">Peggy Olson</a>, my favorite character, is the token feminist on the show. She fights to be taken seriously as an equal; and at the top of Season 6, she is well on her way. Still, I would <em>never</em> want to be in her position (a woman working twice as hard to land a man&#39;s job) and I don&#39;t understand why women of my generation would ever dream of living in an era that was so blatantly sexist. The 1960s are often viewed through <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1346813/The-flip-1960s-sexual-revolution-We-paid-price-free-love.html" target="_blank">rose-colored glasses</a>; when in actuality, these years were some of the most tumultous and trying times in our nation&#39;s history.&nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, audiences adore&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Holloway" target="_blank">Joan Holloway</a>&nbsp;as the sassy and curvaceous &quot;Marilyn&quot; of <em>Mad Men</em>, wishing more bold women with &quot;real bodies&quot; like hers existed in the new millenium. And yet, from my perspective, Joan&#39;s story is a sad one. She <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Holloway" target="_blank">sleeps her way to the top</a>; not because she is untalented, but because she doesn&#39;t even realize that her talent in the office <em>should</em> be enough. Alas, this is all she knows, and her overwhelmingly misogynistic society doesn&#39;t present her with many options otherwise.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joan_s-roommate.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: right; " title="A gay subplot with Joan's roommate was briefly introduced in Season 1, then scrapped. (AMC)" /></div><p>Another distressing aspect of <em>Mad Men</em> is the lack of diversity on the show in general. Season 1 introduced the closeted art director&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mad_Men_characters#Sal_Romano" target="_blank">Sal Romano</a>;&nbsp;but for some reason,&nbsp;his storyline was cut after Season 3 and audiences never saw him again. A lesbian subtext also briefly arose in Season 1 with Joan&#39;s female roommate; but after Joan politely brushed her aside, she too disappeared. Personally, I&#39;d welcome a return from Sal, or a more in-depth storyline for Zosia Mamet&#39;s character <a href="http://www.spin.com/blogs/spin-crush-zosia-mamet-girls-and-mad-men" target="_blank">Joyce Ramsay</a>: a lesbian friend of Peggy&#39;s whose confidence I found refreshing.</p><p>And while Season 6 is <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lY77yLIWCw" target="_blank">guaranteed</a> to show the Civil Rights Movement in full force, past seasons of&nbsp;<em>Mad Men</em>&nbsp;have featured minorities only in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.racialicious.com/2009/08/14/on-mad-men-and-race/" target="_blank">subservient positions</a>&nbsp;(like the Drapers&#39; Puerto Rican maid, Celia)&nbsp;and seen only through the prism of white eyes. The first prominently-featured black character in a non-housekeeper role (<a href="http://madamenoire.com/163828/things-are-changing-mad-men-welcomes-its-first-black-character/">Dawn Chambers</a>, Don&#39;s new secretary and Sterling Cooper&#39;s first black employee) wasn&#39;t introduced until Season 5; and unfortunately, given very little to do beyond serving a cultural plot point.</p><p>I understand that <em>Mad Men</em> is a show about upper-class white America in the 1960s, just like how <em>Girls&nbsp;</em>is a reprsentation of privileged white girls in modern-day Brooklyn. Still, I&#39;d like to see&nbsp;<em>Mad Men</em>&nbsp;creator Matthew Weiner fulfill his promise of giving black voices <a href="http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-03-23/where-are-the-black-folks-on-mad-men-matt-weiner-explains/" target="_blank">a real chance to be heard</a>&nbsp;in future episodes.&nbsp;</p><p>Hopefully, Season 6 will bring more empowered women, queer advocates and trailblazing people of color to the forefront of <em>Mad Men </em>than ever before. If the men of my generation can aspire to be more&nbsp;than Don Draper, and the woman can realize that they deserve better, then I&#39;ll raise my Old Fashioned to that.</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a> or join the &#39;Mad Men&#39; conversation on <a href="https://www.facebook.com" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 08 Apr 2013 00:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-04/mad-men-complex-106528