The stars and creators of three new MTV female-fronted comedies, Sweet/Vicious, Mary + Jane and Loosely Exactly Nicole, sat down together to talk about gender, race, body image and sex at the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) on Thursday night.
In a panel called “The Struggle is Real: Gender, Race, Entrepreneurship and the Women of MTV,” the women behind this next generation of female-led shows talked about charting new territory for both MTV and TV comedy as a whole. But the battles have been hard-fought.
“I think the struggle for women, especially in comedy, is just dudes who don’t shut up. Just because you’re louder than me, doesn’t mean you’re funnier than me,” said Nicole Byer, the eponymous star of Loosely Exactly Nicole, which is based on her own misadventures trying to make it in Hollywood as an overweight African-American comedian and actress.
Loosely Exactly Nicole addresses some provocative gender and race issues, and it doesn’t shy away from discussing sexuality either, showcasing a female protagonist who is unabashedly sexual.
========= ADVERTISEMENT =========
========= ADVERTISEMENT =========
“Very rarely do you see a heavy woman, especially a woman of color, being sexual unless it’s a joke. And it’s not a joke— it’s a part of who I am,” said Byer.
Byer said it was a priority for her to talk not only about a plus-sized woman embracing her sexuality, but also her size. “Very rarely do big, fat women on TV say they look good and a lot of us look great, so I just wanted to showcase that,” Byer said.
Another show that doesn’t shy away from tackling prickly sexual issues is Sweet/Vicious. Described as a next-gen take on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Veronica Mars, it chronicles the efforts of Ophelia and Jules, two would-be vigilantes who decide to literally fight back against sexual assault on their college campus after one of them is raped.
“We did a lot of research and reading and watching documentaries and talking to survivors, and in that sense when we were shooting we knew that there would be difficult scenes to shoot,” said Taylor Dearden, who stars as Ophelia, one half of the vigilante team.
But the show’s creators wanted to make sure they didn’t cross the line into “male bashing.” “The show is in no way male bashing and I think we wanted to make sure that it didn’t look that way. There are amazing men on the show and amazing men in our lives,” Dearden said.
“MTV has been very brave in what they have let us do with this show and their partnership has been incredible and we’re so excited to work on a network with so many shows about women who are nuanced,” said Jennifer Robinson, executive producer of Sweet/Vicious.
Mary + Jane, another “nuanced” female-fronted comedy that premiered on MTV in September, follows two twentysomething entrepreneur friends who run an all-female weed delivery services in Los Angeles.
“I love being a part of the show because there are things [on the show] that I wish I had seen on a program when I was 12, 13, 14, 15,” said star Jessica Rothe, who plays Paige.
“We get to play characters who are seeking a goal rather than being competitive because they are trying to take someone down,” which is a departure from the way many female characters are portrayed on television, added Rothe.
For the show’s creators, it was important that Mary + Jane center around something other than men, explained Scout Durwood, who plays Jordan. “Deb [Kaplan, executive producer] had a rule on our show that no two women on the show would fight about a dude,” said Durwood.
Kaplan said she believes women in TV have a mandate to encourage and support other women in the industry.
“I think that we have a responsibility, and you guys as millennials have a responsibility, to make more room for women at the table,” she said.
Source : http://promaxbda.org/brief/content/nytvf-mtvs-new-lineup-of-girl-powered-shows-tackle-some-controversial-issue#!