By Guest Contributor Jen Wang, cross-posted from Disgrasian
I’ve heard this argument in discussions about the lack of diversity on HBO’s Girls and I’m hearing it again now with ABC Family’s Bunheads. The argument is: If you’re criticizing this show, which is for, by, and about girls/women, you’re misogynist.
This week, Bunheads creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, of Gilmore Girls fame, responded to criticism made by Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes about the lack of diversity on Sherman-Palladino’s new series about ballerinas with this exact argument:
“I’ve always felt that women, in a general sense, have never supported other women the way they should…I think it’s a shame, but to me, it is what it is.”
Sherman-Palladino, who says she has never met Rhimes before, went on to say that with the increased demands on showrunners–particularly while getting a new program on the air–there’s no room for criticism among peers. “I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go after another woman. I, frankly, wouldn’t go after another showrunner,” she said.
Showrunner-to-showrunner professional courtesies aside–think how awkward running into each other in the ladies’ room at the Emmys will be!–Sherman-Palladino’s assessment of the situation, not to mention her assertion of victimhood, is utterly facile and self-serving.
Here is Rhimes’ actual tweet:
It’s important to note here that Rhimes directed her criticism at @abcfbunheads, the official Twitter for the ABC Family show. ABC Family is a subsidiary of Disney-ABC, which owns all of the shows Rhimes has developed, created, or had her name attached to since her TV career began. In reality, her tweet is less an attack on Sherman-Palladino than a calling-out of the network Rhimes has made richer. The people who resent the lack of diversity criticism directed at shows like Girls and Bunheads will be the first to tell you that the lack of diversity on TV is a systemic problem. Which is why Rhimes being called a woman-hater for pointing out that there isn’t even one non-white ballerina on Bunheads is such a fucked argument. Rhimes criticizing the lack of diversity on a show on her network in a public forum is her fighting that system, not her sowing the seeds of a bitchfight. She’s not embarrassing Sherman-Palladino; she’s embarrassing the system.
Last thing: the people who think criticizing a show’s lack of diversity equates to woman hate are the same ones who keep asking, Why don’t you haters go after shows run by men? Why don’t you go after shows like Entourage or Two-and-a-Half Men that only show the point-of-view of white men?
The answers are simple. First of all, there’s been plenty written about the lack of diversity on TV in general by the same people who’ve critiqued the lack of diversity on women-run shows like Girls and Bunheads. On this very blog. And this one. And this one, for starters.
Second, the shows that we’re often the most critical of are the ones we care about the most. You know, the shows we fancy to be for, by, and about us. Even when those shows turn out to seem not to care about us at all.
[TV Guide: Shonda Rhimes Disses Bunheads for Lack of Diversity]
[EW.com: ‘Bunheads': Amy Sherman-Palladino responds to Shonda Rhimes’ criticism on lack of diversity]
[xojane: No Black Ballerinas: “Bunheads” Could Do Better And Here’s Why]
[Jezebel: Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls]
[HuffPo: HBO’s ‘Girls’ Isn’t Racist, Television Is Racist (And Sexist)]