Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sexual Perversity in the Writers' Room

Thanks to the California Supreme Court we comedy writers can continue to be vulgar and crass and sexist and infantile and crude…and do our jobs. With a vote of 7-0 the judges threw out the ridiculous sexual harassment lawsuit against certain FRIENDS writers and Warner Brothers filed by a disgruntled incompetent writers’ assistant who was fired for cause. The sexually explicit remarks made by the FRIENDS writers were not even aimed at her (although now they will be). They were directed at the actors.

Writers Rooms are not for the faint of heart. It is not the Queen’s Tea in there. Sitcom writers on multi-camera shows like FRIENDS work under enormous pressure. The writers see a runthrough at 4:00 and must fix the entire script that night, even if it means throwing out the script and writing a new one. They must identify the problems, come up with the solutions, and have the new draft ready first thing in the morning. Tough luck if the muse doesn’t come, or you’ve got the flu, or worse, had Laker tickets. And you face this daunting task essentially every night for 22 weeks.

To relieve that pressure and kick start the creative process, comedy writers need to be free to say ANYTHING. And considering we’re all neurotic, self loathing, insecure, still pining for that girl from Junior High, and funny our escape valve tends to be material that makes “The Aristocrats” joke seem PG. The only rule is everything and everyone is fair game…even YOU. The best way to prevent others from taking a shot at you is taking the shot yourself. A writers room is the only place in the world where the winner of a dick measuring contest is the one who has the smallest.

And if a favorite target is the cast, well who do you think had all the objections or tanked the material that resulted in this grueling rewrite anyway? You’re in a stuffy room eating bad Chinese food or El Pollo Loco while Courtney Cox is out for a lovely evening. Sure you’re going to talk about her genitals…for twelve hours.

Had the writers’ assistant won this absurd lawsuit the result would not be more genteel writers rooms. It would be fewer woman writers and assistants being hired. And no one would benefit from that.

One last point. If you were ever to be in one of these rooms you would likely be appalled, offended, even outraged…but you would never laugh so much and so hard in your life.

And maybe some of the Courtney Cox genital jokes were true.

53 comments:

Hamid said...

Can I sue the writers of Anger Management for being crap?

Aaron Sheckley said...

And now, cry Havoc and let slip the plethora of comments accusing Ken of everything from misogyny to supporting rape culture. Come on, uber-PC commentators; your fingers are twitching over the keyboard, and you know you can't help yourselves...

unkystan said...

Life was so much more fun before PC. Now you have to look around before you make any remark, then look around again after you make the remark! Jesus Christ!!!! Oh, I mean "Gosh" I deeply apologize for my insensitive remark that insulted your religious beliefs. Please don't sue me.

fred nerk said...

Aaron Sheckley, how about an intelligent opinion on the subject rather than that silly attempt at shit stirring?

Aaron Sheckley said...

That's not shit stirring, Fred; that's prognostication. This is the same comments section where some posters became offended because Ken posted photos of Belinda Montgomery in a nightie. If you have an intelligent opinion to offer, then feel free; no one is preventing you. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle might come into play now, however; since I have observed the phenomenon of hyper PC commentators here, then they may not show up....

Mike said...

If "sexually coarse and vulgar language, complete with lewd sexual simulations, is a necessary part of the creative process" for writing Friends, what happens on Spartacus?

Oren Mendez said...

Well, since writer Jill Soloway got work following her short story titled "Courtney Cox's Asshole", I'm surprised this lawsuit even made it to court.

Daniel said...

Hi, Aaron.

I don't think Ken is misogynistic, and I don't think he supports rape culture. I'm not so sure about the men in the Friends writing room.

I'm glad that the lawsuit was dismissed. I think that writers need a certain amount of creative freedom to produce their best work, and for comedy writers, sometimes that means they need to be raunchier than the Friars Club.

But something bothered me about the lawsuit back when Ken first published this essay--I think it was almost a decade ago--and it still bothers me now.

I've read a few articles about the case, and most of the jokes in the writers' room seemed to be at the expense of women and homosexuals. That's pretty much what you'd expect from a bunch of comedy writers working long hours in 2004, so I don't object to the tasteless jokes. But I do wonder why those were the first comments that came to mind. After a few hours without sleep, the writers immediately turned into Mad Men from the 1960s.

I'm sure that if you hired a group of comedy writers that included women and homosexuals and people from every race and culture, the jokes would be just as raunchy. They might even be ten times worse. But I wonder if, possibly, there would be fewer jokes that were sexist and homophobic.

We'll probably never know because--as far as I can tell--almost ten years later, most of the writers in Hollywood are still white and male. (Ken can correct me if I'm wrong.) The writers on Friends didn't cause that problem, and a lawsuit over lewd comments won't solve it, but it is a problem.

Ken wrote, "Had the writers’ assistant won this absurd lawsuit the result would not be more genteel writers rooms. It would be fewer woman writers and assistants being hired. And no one would benefit from that." He's probably right. But the reason he's right is that sexism is so prevalent in Hollywood, no one even notices it. It seems perfectly normal to say, "Women get really sensitive about all these rape jokes. Just to be on the safe side, let's stop hiring them. We don't want another lawsuit."

What I'm saying is, another solution to the problem might be for the comedy writers to ask: "Why is it so easy for us to turn into the worst caricatures of American men?" I'm also saying that writers' rooms might benefit from staff members who don't all look exactly the same. And viewers might get more interesting, less predictable television shows.

The glass ceiling wasn't created because someone made a joke about Courteney Cox's vagina--and for all I know, Courteney thought it was hilarious. But if a stupid lawsuit makes people pay attention to those issues, maybe it will become obvious that there's more to discuss than Courteney's genitals.

The Mutt said...

@Daniel I worked for a comedy troupe where I was the only straight male. Our writing sessions were full of sexist jokes, mostly aimed at straight males. A lot of our material dealt with relationships, sexual and otherwise. We were plenty raunchy, and every group was a target.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a difference between allowing writers to throw out any joke to see if it sticks and talking about the lead actress private parts for hours on end. Honestly, the latter does seem like sexual harassment for women writers in the room. I don't know any women who would be comfortable with that atmosphere.

Aaron Sheckley said...

Hello Daniel,

I appreciate the reasoned response. I do agree with your comments for the most part. My initial post related to people with a very myopic viewpoint who would seize on comments like the ones that Ken made and inflate them to ridiculous levels in order to facilitate their straw man arguments. It's what I always refer to as the "You're worse than Hitler" argument. For what it's worth, misogynistic humor leaves me as cold as the type of misandristic humor that you would find in an episode of say, Two Broke Girls, or any TV commercial depicting the husband as a clueless boob when it comes to cooking. Cruelty is about power, not gender or sexual orientation. I believe that if there was a show on that was totally written by women, starring women, the writers would be just as prone to abuse as are male dominated shows. Unfortunately, cruel humor reigns on prime time and cable comedy, and the foundation of cruel humor is to mock someone. I'm sure if there was an all gay sitcom on TV with the same type of cruel humor as Two and a Half Men, the perceived idiosyncracies and stereotypes of straight people would probably be a foundation of their jokes. I wish there were more alternatives in television comedy than that monotonous beat of "setup, setup, insult, setup, setup, insult", but we are a cruel society and that's what people want to see, so that's why we get endless servings of it.

OrangeTom said...

This case always reminded of one involving Tony Orlando (of Dawn fame). Seems that one of the later "Dawns" sued him for harassment. His defense was that he was an asshole to everyone, regardless of gender. He won. That's what I always figured was going on--at least in part--in the writers' room. Everybody, male and female was getting verbally reamed at one point or another, so what exactly was the offense?

Brian Drake said...

So do we get examples of the jokes or do I have to pour through the court transcripts? :)

Danny said...

Courteney Cox's genitals were so afraid of commitment (and lawsuits) that they escaped deep into the jungle so no one could find them.

Jim said...

Belinda Montgomery? Oh dear, dear dear.

Aaron Sheckley said...

Damn! Obviously I meant Elizabeth Montgomery, not Belinda Montgomery.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I remember that when I attended the SITCOM ROOM (great experience, if you have a chance to go) Jane Espenson, who participated in a panel discussion on comedy writing, said that she eventually got very tired of the comedy writers' rooms and the culture Daniel and Ken have described, and as a result she switched to drama. Now, we all benefited from that (BUFFY, THE GOOD WIFE), but it *is* a loss that a talented comedy writer just couldn't take the culture.

I understand about blowing off steam and bad jokes and so on, but I do wonder if this is the only atmosphere in which comedy can flourish.

wg

Aaron Sheckley said...

Wendy,

I think that as long as dick jokes and vagina jokes are the cornerstone of current US comedy, and as long as we have this split personality in the US as far as sex goes (sex is nasty/hurry up and titillate me!), that sort of writers" room is going to be here to stay. In much the same way as a slaughterhouse worker isn't going to show up to work in a Botany 500 suit, comedy writers aren't going to be polite and respectful and equality-minded in a writers' conference when the jokes they are trying to write are about which guy the lead actress was banging gave her herpes. I don't blame Jane Espenson; I spent a career in a ridiculously macho job, and I got tired of the endless discussions that revolved around how many women a guy had had sex with. It's boring, to say the least.

John said...

If you're going to talk about Courtney Cox's genitalia, shouldn't you have been ordering out from El Pescado Loco instead?

Kirk said...

Having never been in a comedy room, I'm giving Ken the benefit of the doubt because, well, because he's Ken. I trust his judgement. Plus, I've known people to use phony charges of harrassment as a way of covering up their own misdeeds.

Having said that, there's a difference between gays making fun of straights, women making fun of men, blacks making fun of whites, etc, and straight, white males doing all the making fun of. The difference is straight, white males have historically been in the driver's seat and are still far from powerless. Their jokes may sting a little more, and may even seem a bit threatening than the other way around. Just sayin'.

Writers rooms should indeed err on the side of free and open speech. I just want's people's minds to be as open as their speech.

Stu West said...

I can't imagine that someone in a writers' room would feel comfortable making a stream of offensive comments about an actor's race, so that does sort of suggest there's some self-censorship going on, even without lawsuits.

Although I admit I've never spent time in a writers' room. Anyone who has want to weigh in?

Anonymous said...

The amicus brief filed by WGA and available via a Google search is a great read. I find it amazing that the plaintiff joined the USAF. I guess the humor in the barracks is more genteel than in the writer's room.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Aaron Sheckley: I absolutely take your point. On the other hand, Espenson worked on ELLEN and SOMETHING SO RIGHT. I don't think either comedy relied on vagina/dick jokes (sure about ELLEN; never saw the latter) - but both were back in the mid-late 1990s.

wg

Aaron Sheckley said...

That's kind of depressing to hear, Wendy, since it trashes my theory that the kind of comedy they are working on would dictate the tone of the writers' room.

Anonymous said...

I had friends who worked as comedy writers, and the day-to-day stories he told me indicated that they can be akin to being at a boy's summer camp.
I could hardly believe the shit those assholes pulled on a regular basis. It was pathetic that they would ever refer to themselves as adults.
If you're expecting emotional stability, you've come to the wrong place. It's too often "Lord of the Flies" in that environment.
Women writers who make it through in those hellholes are typically either forced to become hyper-aggressive cunts on wheels (hi Whitney), or the dutiful beaten rug of the group (hi, most other female sitcom writers).
It's just sad, at Ken's age, that he still defends the dark ways of the typical comedy shithole with no qualifications or call for humanity. Since when do you have to be a cock to do your job? Even the armed forces have a pretense to protocol. They, of course, don't always follow it, but at least they're informed of what's right and wrong.
Ken's response seems to be "take it, and like it, bitches!"
As if to undermine a bunch of hacks freedom to be unmitigated assholes would undermine the actual productivity of said hacks.

-kyle

An (is my actual name) said...

Love ya Ken, but there are lots of us working in high-pressure, insane hour, creatively taxing jobs 48-50 weeks a year, and I can't imagine who would condone/excuse that type of behavior in another professional setting. Why do sitcom writers get a pass? Genuine disconnect here.

ODJennings said...

"I can't imagine who would condone/excuse that type of behavior in another professional setting."


Please, I've worked for companies that relished the fact that they were running a gladiator school where sexism ran wild and the dirtier the joke the better.

Spend 30 minutes on Business Insider or any other Wall Street website and read the horror stories they post about what goes on in the bullpens and trading floors.

It's not just big corporations either. If you knew what the salesmen say about the customers in the backroom of most car dealerships (not to mention what they say about the cars), you would take the bus to work every day, and let's not even think about what the waiters say about you back in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant.

Gallows humor is a survival mechanism in almost every business.

Ken Levine said...

Kyle,

So based on second hand information you've determined that all comedy writers are Visigoths. I would submit that since you're not a comedy writer yourself nor have you been in writing rooms yourself that you're talking out of your hat.

The system works despite your scorn. All the thoughtful, Emmy winning written sitcoms operate behind-the-scenes with this model. I know -- it's an unjust world.

Carol said...

Salesmen and waiters making jokes about their customers is hardly the same thing as a writers' room situation where women, who are generally in the minority in those groups, are forced to endure misogynistic, offensive"jokes" generated by the white males who tend to dominate.

If those salesmen and waiters are making jokes about the ethnicity of their customers, is that okay, too?

You seem to be saying that the fact that some people behave in a certain way makes it acceptable. As human beings, we should strive to overcome our worst instincts, not to embrace them.

Count me among those who can't buy Ken's argument. It may reflect a reality, but hopefully, future generations of comedy writers will come to realize that forcing their female peers to be a good sport about enduring sexist, misogynistic "jokes" isn't one bit different than expecting a member of an ethnic group to good-naturedly accept offensive jokes aimed at his ethnicity.

Sam said...

Personally, I'd love to hear from a woman or gay male, one who has actually done time in a sitcom writers room, who would be willing to give an honest account of their experience. Frankly, that would tell me more than hearing from the old white guy.

Problem would be finding one who would speak honestly, without having to worry about risking future employment. Jane Esponson's comment about why she gave up sitcom writing does raise a question to me.

The system may work, but does that make the way it works right? It's easy to say that when you're not the minority group in the room, having to smile and be a good sport.

Ken Levine said...

From a previous post, here are three women writers who worked for me.

http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-response-to-roseanne.html

I invite any others to write in as well.

Anonymous said...

Ken:
"The system works despite your scorn. All the thoughtful, Emmy winning written sitcoms operate behind-the-scenes with this model. I know -- it's an unjust world."

Not good logic. America "worked" when we had segregation. The many participants of that time were later called "the greatest generation." A few black people thought we could... be better.
I'm not advocating for a sterile writer's room. That is, as you say, anathema to great comedy. I'm suggesting that a general code of professionalism be recognized, maybe suggested by the guilds, so people might have a better idea of when they go too far, and reign their shit in a little.
Besides, when there's no "line" drawn, people in power tend to subjectively move whatever line they've established in their head in the favor of their pathology, until playing headfuck games is just "how things are done around here."
The consequence of having no line drawn is men who don't like women in the writer's room can make incredibly vile passive-aggressive "jokes" regularly to make the woman quit. If you don't admit that's happened, I think you're wrong.
btw, I really doubt there are jokes being made about an ungreased buttplug and Tina Fey's anus in Tina Fey's writing room. Something just tells me it doesn't happen much. Because she has the power, not some male sociopath show runner-and you know for a fact there are some show runners who might qualify as sociopaths.
They set the crazy tone of the room because they have the power.
That's all this is about, ultimately. Nothing to do with tradition or protocol.
One more thing, you'll likely never see a joke on network television calling out some vile situation related to Courtney Cox's vagina, so why defend the most vile jokes about it, and other things, when they'll never be used?
I would agree with you that a courtroom is about the worst place to figure out what's funny, but self-governace, headed by show runners who strive to not be psychopaths, or enable other psychopaths, would be a big step in the right direction.
Or maybe that's just the way you like it.

-kyle



"It's not that I can't help these people. It's just I don't want to."

-Ken Levine

Ken Levine said...

Kyle,

Your view of the writers room as being a vile den of women hating and the most inappropriate disgusting hurtful comedy material ever is just not accurate. That's understandable. You've never BEEN in a writers room. I think if do spend any time in one you'd say, "Oh. Okay. It's not that terrible."

We make crude jokes but there are lines we don't cross -- not because of any sanctions or codes but because it's simple human decency.

And for the most part we attack each other. We're comedy writers, not the Klan.

Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I'm not advocating that all writer's rooms are full of psychopaths. I also don't lump you in with my criticism. I think you're one of the good guys. I recognize writers ream on each other, and that's part of being around creative people under an unreal amount of pressure.
I'm talking more about power politics, and ways men can make the workplace very unpleasant for women, when they decide they don't want the woman there.
I also recognize that a woman with a political agenda (feminist) writing on a show can be a hell all it's own for the men. So in some cases, I could see myself telling a female writer, "don't be a sissy."
We can pull out particulars from abstracts all day.
Acknowledging your assertion that not all writer's rooms, or even many are that bad, let's just say SOME writer's rooms can get a little out of control, and sometimes the women there can pay the price, and it would be nice if that wasn't the case. Granted, some women are bad writers, and will use a feminist angle to justify their pain in the writer's room, but some women are good writers, and shouldn't get hosed simply because they match the template of some girl who dissed some neurotic writer ages ago.
You know, most every profession that has brought women in does better than it did before in one way or another. Owing to the numbers, sitcom writer's rooms appear to have a little work to do to improve.

KatePowers said...

Having been in three drama writers' rooms as a WA, and sat within earshot of a few more, I feel obliged to explain why good TV shows require "safe rooms."

Because you're making something up that no one has ever seen before, and you need to make up a story that people believe, and yet cannot see coming. To achieve this, you cannot filter your ideas before they come out of your mouth. The "inappropriate" thing you don't let yourself say outloud could be the thing that inspires the person next to you to sit bolt upright and say,"WAIT! What if --"

The first rule of brainstorming is "there are no bad ideas." Say it, put it on the board and move on. There will be time to edit/refine later, but not during the brainstorm. (In improv, this is the "yes and" rule.)

Also, jokes tend to shake up a room, make everyone think of a situation from a new perspective and engage with a topic with new enthusiasm. For this reason, even seemingly very serious dramas will have the most ludicrous running jokes imaginable.

For my part, I'm heartily sorry the Friends' WA was motivated to file the suit. I'm not in her shoes, and I don't know her reasons -- and to be utterly self-centered, it happened long enough ago that it hasn't impacted me professionally, but she did a disservice to all the smart, game assistants who understand how rooms work. (And as contractors, writers still don't have to watch the now-mandatory "Don't, like, skeeve people out" DVDs that HR insists I watch when I take a new job.)

artships said...

Ken,
I've been away for a couple of weeks and noticed...

I love what you say. I love how you say it. I hate how it looks. That is, in Firefox, Opera, and Chrome, several characters at the end of every formatted line disappears into the right margin. To read your column I have to cut'n'paste your text into an editor and reformat it.

You're worth it. I'll keep doing it.

Johnny Walker said...

I can totally appreciate the need for a safe environment where anything goes. Ideally you're in a room with people you respect and trust, and so you can all knowingly cross the line into vulgarity and offensiveness, while appreciating just how vulgar and offensive you're being -- and laughing at *that*. Much like the aforementioned "Atristocrats" joke.

That's an inclusive, safe, environment.

Unfortunately, like Wendy, I was there to witness the incredibly talented Jane Espenson talk about how she was the TARGET of such jokes in the sitcom writer room. Speculative discussions about what she was like in bed were considered acceptable, for example.

She didn't enjoy it, and when she moved to drama rooms (initially Joss Whedon's feminist drama rooms) she found a place where she was happy. And she's not returned to sitcoms since.

So, for me, it appears there's two things being discussed: A safe, inclusive environment where you can try and "out gross" each other to relieve the frustration, and a bullying, excluding environment where certain members of the room are targeted.

I'm sure nobody is saying you need the latter to create good comedy.

Anonymous said...

Ken,you make writing comedy akin to being an ER doctor or cop. I realize it is stressful and the hours are long, but many of us work long hours with hard jobs. That doesn't give us the right to talk about our co-workers private parts. It's just wrong. There is really no justifying it and I'm disappointed you tried. Somehow, I don't think in a Tina Fey's writer's room you would see this type of sexist behavior and the comedy is just as funny.

Mike said...

Agreeing with @artships above: the formatting has gone awry overnight.
In the left column, the text has been displaced about 4 characters to the right and the lines lengthened by about 9 characters, clipping characters at the right.

An (is my actual name) said...

ODJennings, I was writing from my experience, which is all any of us can do. And just to give you a taste of my experience, funnily enough, my first job as a teen was in a NJ car dealership. My next gig was as a cocktail waitress on the floor of an Atlantic City casino. Eventually, I went to law school, and my first job as an attorney was in the Philadelphia DA's office, where I worked RICO cases, but had a desk with the detectives in the middle of the homicide unit. Since then, I've had positions that took my life from NYC to L.A. where I did business everywhere from maximum security prisons to Wall Street and Big Oil boardrooms. I've done time with Hollywood agents, in reality television production, and with Fox and Rupert Murdoch himself (I type this from the confines of my perpetual shower). All this is a long and tiresome way of saying you can spare me the life lessons about gallows humor and what happens in the real world. I'm good. Thanks.

Dr Bob said...

Yes, there are valid issues here about whether or not "certain things" should be said in mixed company. Most comedy professionals know you should "know your audience," even if it includes the people in the room working with you.

However, isn't the issue, at least in part, about what Ken said about the person who sued as being "filed by a disgruntled incompetent writers’ assistant who was fired for cause?"

HR and wrongful termination lawsuits are proving (yes, proving) to be an effective means of revenge and punishment by vindictive men and women who cannot face the possibility that they might, at least a little, need some introspection. It's another way of avoiding accountability -- the hallmark of our age.

If this person was a great talent in successive jobs it may vindicate her. That has not been my experience. Rather, they go on to other positions, further being lousy at them, and punish those who get in their way.

Sorry, but that is from years of experience and it has nothing to do with gender. It's manipulation of the system which is terrified of being accused of being whatever is defined as offensive from one day to the next.

It could be argued that the very content of many of today's sitcoms are offensive to both genders. But we can't sue them or report them to HR.

MIchael Stoffel said...

Here at work we're only allowed to use Firefox, and as mentioned above, the right hand panel sits on top of your text. I'm dyslexic enough without having to struggle with guessing at what letters may be in every sentence!
And Aaron Scheckley, you don't need to post a follow up comment to mine. I'm good.

Pete In NY said...

Wait a minute! The woman who filed the suit against the Friends staff joined the USAF? Isn't the division of the armed forces that has the most (and rightfully so) sexual harassment claims against it?

Dr Bob said...

Sure, when a point is made, fog it by bringing up something that happened years later to completely different people.

The person in the writer's room was not physically threatened, but feel free to compare it to the Spanish Inquisition, the fall of Rome or Gilligan not getting off the island, if you think it will work.

Dr Bob said...

And BTW, I am not siding with the USAF in that completely different case. But how convenient for your argument that the scandal recently occurred just in time to use it as a comeback?

My comment, again, has nothing to do with gender or anything sexual. It has to do with blind incompetence and how the corporate system often protects those who misuse.

Anonymous said...

It's always the subtext in the delivery not the words. Writers know this. I'm a woman who's sat in creative brainstorming sessions (in the ad industry) often the only woman in the room. More than once I've had the experience where I've listened to one guy deliver a dirty joke and I laugh, not in the least bit offended. A couple of meetings later, a different guy tells the same exact joke and it made my skin crawl. Because that's the reaction he wanted. He wanted to make me uncomfortable. And any man who can come from a place of truth knows darn well this is what it's about. But subtext is very difficult to litigate in court.

Ken Levine said...

I don't know why there's a formatting problem with Blogger. It still looks fine in my Firefox and Safari browsers, and I'm not doing anything different in posting. Will investigate. Thanks for letting me know.

Mike said...

@Ken Levine: It's fine again now for me. Perhaps some temporary changes from BlogSpot Central. Next time, I'll wait a couple of days to see if the changes settle.

KatePowers said...

I wish the Anonymous who talked about the ad agency dirty jokes would have given herself at least a pseudonym, so there wouldn't be any confusion whenI say that Anonymous is right on about the subtext.

I have been extremely lucky to work in great rooms with huge amounts of trust and support. I acknowledge that not every room is like that, and it sounds like Jane Espenson learned that first hand. It's also telling that this happened early in her career; after my first few jobs, I had both the confidence and the creep radar to pass up gigs where I knew I wasn't a good fit, but if I'd started out in a bad place, I probably would have walked away from the industry forever.

I do wonder why people think Tina Fey is so averse to crossing certain lines -- this is the woman who, when criticized anonymously on the internet as "not having a funny bone in her body," answered: "You know who does have a funny bone in her body? Your mom, every night of the week, for a dollar."

And anyone who thinks that writers' room focus exclusively on the sexual proclivities of women should ask their friendly neighborhood TV writer why the Danny Thomas sandwich is #2 on the Canter's Deli menu.

McAlister said...

>Had the writers’ assistant won this absurd lawsuit the result would not be more genteel writers rooms. It would be fewer woman writers and assistants being hired. And no one would benefit from that.

The same can be said of any lawsuit filed by women employees. Sexual harassment, salary discrepancy, maternity leave, etc.

Mike said...

Based on the show, I assume that the writers of Friends were mostly women, especially after the first season or two. It certainly looks like the guys were written to fit the way women want men to behave.
Is it possible that the network sent down notes along these lines to a male writing staff?

Anonymous said...

Haven't lots of businesses claimed that their discrimination or harassment was integral to maintaining morale, keeping the business running, etc?

Johnny Walker said...

Kate: As I understand it, Jane Espenson only experienced difficulties in SITCOM rooms, and found life much more enjoyable in drama rooms.

And, as I tried to make a distinction before, I don't think the problem was salty humour.