From media, teachers, friends, artists, etc., an “old” saying goes that theater is an actor’s medium, film is a director’s medium, and television is a writer’s medium. And while television has been around and popular for decades, there seems to be a rise in television. This may be because of how accessible television is. You don’t really have to leave even your bed to watch television. With Netflix, Hulu, and online streaming, you don’t even have to have an actual TV monitor to watch your favorite shows. Another reason why television seems to be taking off is because of the writers. The shows that are well known and popular have rich stories and characters originating from the writers.
This past weekend, USC’s cinema school hosted their annual Comedy@SCA event through Visions and Voices. There were various panels throughout the day of people in the entertainment business basically talking about comedy. There was one panel called: Beyond Bridesmaids: Women Taking Charge of Comedy. The panelists included: Katie Dippold (Writer: The Heat, Parks and Recreation, MADtv), Dana Fox (Creator: Ben and Kate; Writer: Couples Retreat, What Happens in Vegas; Producer:New Girl; Stark Producing Program), Tracy Oliver (Writer/Producer/Actor: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl; Writer: The Neighbors; Stark Producing Program), and Jen Statsky (Writer: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Parks and Recreation, HBO’s Hello Ladies).
Overall, the panel was immensely entertaining to watch. These women were hilarious, but also successfully answered the questions asked and gave great advice. But something Dana Fox said really stood out to me because it is something I have brought up in previous blog posts. Although a vastly talented and successful writer, Dana Fox still admitted her constant struggle with writing female characters. She said she would sometimes write a character where you didn’t even know she was a female and not a male. So that there was nothing hinting at one gender versus another.
I really wondered how that exactly worked. In general people are different. They are different because of natural differences and also actions that they take and events that happen to them. So is ignoring gender the solution to going away from female stereotypes in roles? Isn’t taking away gender when writing a character kind of strange being that gender does play a factor into who we are?
These questions many writers struggle with, including talented ones such as Dana Fox and the other writers on this panel. Like writing in general, there is no formula for this solution. But that this struggle still exists means that must be some causal of it. But with mediums like writing, especially for television which leans so heavily on character development, the more creative solutions, the better.