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The Creepy, Misogynistic Obsession with Successful Women

It's not just the paranoid rightwingers. Everyone from all over the spectrum is hyper-obsessed and hyperventilating over female-led, high quality entertainment: Lena Dunham and Girls; Shonda Rhimes, her production company, and Scandal, Grey's Anatomy, and How to Get Away with Murder; Jenji Kohan and Weeds and Orange is the New Black. These gawkers oscillate from being jealous, angry, dumbfounded, or obsessed.

(If you're interested in watching a psychological experiment on projection and issues with women, observe the fact that National Review's Kevin Williamson is allowing Dunham to live in his brain rent free. Williamson hates Dunham the same way Ted Haggard hates gay men and meth. I can imagine poor Williamson at holiday parties. Coworker says, "How's it going, Kevin?" and he responds, "...and that stupid bitch said she'd never heard of me, but whoever has heard of her? Huh? HUH?! Amirite?!")

These "critics" all just so damn shocked and fascinated with how these women climbed up a totem pole that wasn't never meant to be climbed by anyone other than men in the first place.


Take the normally level-headed, but sometimes trolling, Slate. It has a running column where "a bunch of guys talk about Girls." After every episode, half a dozen male (!) writers stretch and obsess for deeper meaning and engage in "heavy analysis."

To me, it was a bit Freudian: Hannah had been searching for a father figure all episode. After phoning her actual father and trying his patience, she reminisced with Laird about how her dad used to protect her from broken glass, and how now there's no one around to do that. And then came Adam, calling her "kid," rescuing her from herself, lifting and cradling her volumptuous body as though she was a tiny toddler.

I don't think I've seen such over-analysis and pretentiousness since my undergraduate film class. Also volumptuous isn't a word. (Seth Stevenson, just call her fat. We all know that's what you were trying to say. Don't try to dance around it.)

And who could forget this journalistic diarrhea?

Orange Is the New Black has been justly praised for its representation of groups who are often either marginalized or completely invisible in most mainstream media. The show has prominent, complex roles for black women, Latinas, lesbian and bisexual women, and perhaps the first major role for a trans woman played by a trans woman, the wonderful Laverne Cox. There remains, however, one important group that the show barely, and inadequately, represents.

That group is men.

Yes thank God for Noah Berlatsky from The Atlantic to point how men are chronically underrepresented and poorly treated on one television show. He spent nearly 1500 words wringing his hands over the gender and cultural implications of Orange is The New Black.


All those hours spent watching and rewinding movies and television, creating opportunities to use the word "deconstruction," Googling biographies and philosophers, typing all those big four syllable words, coming up with new ways to sound intellectual and important, and combing through every dialogue...it's exhausting, and all I can think of is this.


I get it. I do. Men have been at the helm, particularly in entertainment, for so long that seeing women rise and successfully credited for it is like seeing a dog ice skate or Sarah Palin engage in an intellectual debate on tort reform.

That's the problem. Women being successful in any area should be met with genuine recognition and kudos not the shock and awe one would give a toddler for learning how to count.


The mistaken line of thinking is that the historically underrepresented have risen through the ranks for the sole purpose of not only representing themselves but everyone else who has been systematically neglected on the screen. It's impossible for Mindy Kaling or Diablo Cody to write and create just for the sake of doing it. These women must have some ulterior motive that the rest of us have to figure out!

Yet it's interesting to see how other hit television shows never garner such a response.


Where was the outrage when Friends had only white characters? Sure there were some minorities but they showed up in the background or had minor parts. But hey at least it's realistic, especially as two of the male characters had to share Aisha Tyler.

Where was The Atlantic's disgust when Shawshank Redemption, Glengarry Glen Ross, Goodfellas, and Oz had so few female characters? The women in those movies were either dead, nonexistent or there to prop up and fuck the lead male characters.


Where were the demands for racial inclusion in the cast of Cheers? Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States with over a half million people, and no one in the show could cast a regular black character?

Where was the overly obsessive, angst-ridden cultural analysis from Slate on How I Met Your Mother, Everybody Loves Raymond, Shit My Dad Says or Dads? (Okay, I admit I'd love to see Hanna Rosin deconstruct Ray and Debra's dysfunctional marriage.)


Where was the shock at the overabundance of white people on Family Ties, Three's Company, Married With Children, Seinfeld, The League, and Growing Pains?

Oh right there isn't any because white men still control a good chunk of entertainment. When they look at the screen, they already see themselves represented most of the time. No wonder it's a complete shock when they see a popular show, freak out, and start treating the female creators behind entertainment like three headed freaks.


This isn't a political issue. This is every white man, from every stripe, who has always been overly represented in everything he sees from the op-ed pages to the Oscars to foreign affairs to politics to STEM.

These loud responses from the left, the right, the center, and the indifferent are misogynistic bullshit, sloppily wrapped in intellectual snobbery and faux concern. If these asshats really thought these were accomplished women, they wouldn't question the well-deserved accolades or intentionally overburden these women with unrealistic expectations and demands.


I long for the day that Jill Soloway's is regarded the same as Larry David's instead of a condescending pat on the back.

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