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People with parents, children, wins and losses, morals, ideas, feelings, brains. I think often when we think about "feminist television" we convince ourselves that it has to be about strong women doing good things or something.Rachel [one of the manipulative producers played by Shiri Appleby] almost strikes me as a Tony Soprano, where she has this moral compass but she doesn't always get to use it. She can be more morally adrift than Quinn [the head producer, played by Constance Zimmer], honestly.But that's pretty problematic in this medium because audiences have such a strong B. Being able to sniff out that phoniness is why a lot of people who do watch reality TV say things like, "Well, I know a lot of reality TV is fake, but…" What's the answer to that "but"? Even though I come from an academic family — my dad's a professor and both my siblings are academics — even in that circle, when I'd come home to BBQs or parties or bar mitzvahs or whatever, everyone wanted to talk to me about my job.My sister was in the Peace Corps at the time, organizing coffee farmers in Central America, but everyone wanted to talk to me. For some of these people, it's the biggest thing that's ever going to happen to them in their lives. But then they wind up playing this chess game they can't beat., what kind of breakdown did you see between actual reality, exaggeration and editing, and staging?One thing that I should say as a caveat upfront is that I haven't worked in that industry for, like, 10 years, and I think it's changed a ton. [But] something we explore on is the skill set of getting people who are not actors to perform without giving them scripts. It's this really weird skill set that's not only manipulating people into performing how you need them to, it's even just having an ear for syntax as people describe their experiences and editing in your head so you can build a first-person narration from people who aren't narrators. I had spent my entire life battling the beauty industry. I was day-to-day doing stuff that in my gut felt wrong for me.
And you have very, very smart people making these shows. To start with, the two main characters are women who are dealing with issues that are [about] not men.
If you’re straight, single, and looking for love, my best advice might just be to go buy a plane ticket. If you read up on the age issues on my original singles map, you’d find that once all the men get old and die off, it’s nothing but single women all across America.
This was the issue that caused the original trouble, though: when you organize things at the level of an entire city (and its surrounding suburbs), you miss out on the nuance that breaks the heart of every single woman in New York City.
When I was in it, that was more the case, because it was still pretty new and raw. One of the interesting things we discovered when we were doing research for the show was the median income and education for viewers [of these dating shows] is over 0K a year and a lot of them have master's degrees and above. There are a ton of women who are super smart and really ambitious and totally have their lives together who love those shows. But just the idea that I had spent my whole life advocating for other women, protecting other kids at school from getting bullied, talking about body image. And the other hard part was that I kind of liked it.
We had a lot of standards and practices as to how to handle certain situations, and I truthfully don't actually know how that's changed or evolved. We drill it in starting with little girls, this idea that if you're pretty enough and skinny enough, that everything will be OK and somebody will save us and all our problems will be over. I kind of think it's a fantasy or a relief from being a career woman. It was almost like a cartoon, how black-and-white and diametrically opposed the show was to who I was. And that made me feel like I didn't understand myself. It was just a bizarre situation — like sending a vegan to a slaughterhouse and telling them they have to be really good at killing cows.