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As It Turns Out, Women Are Just As Raunchy As Men When They Run a TV Show

Oh My Stars and Garters

In a shocking development in the world of “entertaining while being a female human,” television shows that are run and written by women can be just as raunchy as show that are run and written by men behind the scenes! This totally surprising (and when I say “totally surprising,” I mean “totally unsurprising”) discovery kind of flies in the face of the whole “boys’ club” environment we keep hearing about, even though female writers in late night are still pretty scarce. But don’t you worry your pretty heads about your primetime shows. Those ladies might be peeing in jars and everything!

Actually, what I’m going to say about this is not that women are raunchier than men are, but more like we are raunchier than men expect us to be. Anyone who believes that female writers, let alone female comedy writers, are any less disgusting than their male counterparts is just adorable. You precious thing, thinking that all we write about flowers and cooking and decorating and dating and babies! No, in fact, we are The Worst. So much so that I have grossed out my grossest guy friends, and I’m not going to lie — I love when that happens.

The Grindstone has a great summary of several female showrunners, including New Girl showrunner Liz Meriwether, pictured above with the show’s star Zooey Deschanel. And a very important point is made by Emily Kapnek, showrunner of Suburgatory: it’s not about who can be grosser — it’s about leaving no person in that writers’ room self-conscious or afraid to speak their mind, whatever might be on their minds:

“You want to create an environment where people feel like they can say anything. It needs to have a safety: You can let your mind go to a really weird, scary, not acceptable place in that room, and then carve a story out of that weird, dark hole in your mind.”

And speaking as someone who has written comedy in the past (and hopefully, the future), I can tell you that the best ideas come from strange places. Sometimes the journey is disgusting and ugly and mean — but that’s just how you get there sometimes. The best lines, stories, or jokes might not even be dirty in the end, but the bits and pieces that led to it could have been utterly depraved. And that’s the kind of place that Kapnek is talking about. And if you don’t like it, then writer Daley Haggar (The Big Bang Theory, South Park) will give you an honest answer:

“If you’re not comfortable with sexual humor or with crudeness or with all sorts of people being really honest about certain emotions, then yeah, this job is not for you.”

Yes, sometimes writers — women and men — can make ill-advised jokes that might hurt someone’s feelings and offend people. And sometimes, when that kind of joke is made, it’s easier to get it out there and then see where to take it so it doesn’t offend or hurt someone’s (i.e., the audience) feelings.

What’s refreshing about this article is not that women are officially just as raunchy as men. It’s that more men are finding themselves able to work with women as peers and not as “others.” All writers can get in the same room, bounce ideas off each other, and not worry about being offended or offensive, just be a team and work together, and make the funniest, cleverest darn show that they can.

And if you’re offended easily, I suggest writing greeting cards instead. And if you’re a guy who has a problem working with women, then you are the one with the problem.

(via The Grindstone)

Previously in Women in Comedy

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