Slings and Arrows
Whitney, your eponymous show took a particularly brutal beating by the press.
W.C.: Critics do not particularly like multi-cams, but they are the most watched [sitcoms] in the country, so there’s just a little disconnect there, I think. But yeah, back to how people hate me. [Laughs.] I actually think a lot of it had to do with not the actual show [Whitney], but with the promotion of the show. I think my show was very supported, and I’m so grateful for it. But the promotions were, “I’m like every man’s worst fucking nightmare!” And it’s just like, “Oh, that girl. She’s like my girlfriend at her worst.” So before people had actually seen the show, I think a lot of decisions were made about it.
L.M.: People don’t sort of inherently think of women as funny, so there’s kind of a little bit of reeducation that some of this marketing has to do. The marketing has to explain what’s funny about the woman or put a word on. Like adorkable.
What about the Girls backlash? Critics have taken issue with the cast’s lack of diversity.
N.K.: To me, this is really exciting. The passion that stirs up, that means that all those girls and all the people involved in that show are doing something different and something that you haven’t seen before. When stuff is familiar, people don’t talk about it that much. When something’s different and new and bold and original and daring, people fall on either side of it. You can’t just shrug it off.
L.M.: I do think, though, that there’s something about having to defend your right to tell your story that seems a little bit odd to me. I feel like you don’t get that with a lot of guy stuff.
W.C.: It’s human nature to have opinions. I think it’s opinions that keep our stuff good—we can’t say everything is great, or else we’d only have shit. But I think this is just a great example of people just needing to hate.
E.S.: It’s the anonymity of the Internet and everything. People don’t go on the Internet to say flowery, wonderful things about each other. They go on to rip each other to shreds.
W.C.: Also, a lot of what we think is hate, we’re amplifying. It’s one person and we’re amplifying it like it’s everybody. It’s not.
D.H.: I sort of watched it thinking, I’m not in my twenties anymore. Am I gonna relate to this? Is she just gonna really annoy me? And then I just loved it. I think it’s because she’s writing her own specifics. Carl Reiner said, “What piece of ground do you stand on that nobody else stands on?” When you write from that place, it’s real. Everyone gets it.
L.M.: But to be constantly held accountable for the entire ground is where it kind of gets messed up in my mind.
E.K.: I think the lack of diversity on Girls probably has something to do with HBO’s willingness to let her be very specific, and tell her story. Whereas with network shows, there’s always a mandate. It becomes, “How are we gonna include this group of people?” or “We have to have some diversity.”
W.C.: And then every doctor is black.
E.K.: It becomes a token gesture. It doesn’t come from a place of sincere storytelling, or anything organic to the world.