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"Gilmore Girls'" Creator Gets in a Pissing Match with "Grey's Anatomy" Creator

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | June 18, 2012 | Comments ()


t1larg_amysherman_palladino1.jpg

Have you folks caught "Bunheads" yet? As I suggested in my review, if you're a fan of Amy Sherman-Palladino's "Gilmore Girls," there's no reason you won't love "Bunheads," as it's basically the same show transplanted from Stars Hollow to a sleepy coastal town, where Lorelai Michelle is now a dance instructor. However, unlike Stars Hollow, this sleepy coastal town doesn't have any people of color, and that doesn't make Shonda Rhimes -- the creator of "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal," and "Private Practice" -- very happy. In fact, after "Bunheads" aired last week, instead of offering up her attagirls, Rhimes tweeted:

"Hey @abcfbunheads: really? You couldn't cast even ONE young dancer of color so I could feel good about my kid watching this show? NOT ONE?"

Well, now that felt kind of unnecessarily bitchy, didn't it? A better tweet might have been, "Dear @abcfbunheads: Great show! However, I would really appreciate it if you could cast a young dancer of color so that my kid can also feel good about watching it."

It took a few days, but Sherman-Palladino did get around to responding to Rhimes' initial Twitter missive in an interview with Media Mayhem (via EW)"

Look, I'm not going to get into a pissing match with Shonda Rhimes because she has 15,000 shows on the air, and she's doing just fine for herself. ... [But] 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.

See, Rhimes? A more carefully worded -- and maybe even supportive -- tweet could've avoided all of this rancor. Now, Sherman-Palladino has painted Rhimes as a catty bitch who is unsupportive of women and other showrunners. Guess who wins?

Nobody.

Here's the interview.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • swellcat

    Guess what? I'm watching Bunheads and SHOCKER!!! there's 2 women of color on it. I don't think Shonda should have said anything (it was the first episode! Calm down!) and Amy S-P could have been a little more classy with her response. Either way, I love Bunheads and I like Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. So there you go!

  • 724wd

    in twenty minutes of episode 2, i've seen a young black dancer and "emily" has a black friend.

  • llaurus

    Umm, was Rhimes' tweet really that bad? No, it wasn't prefaced with a compliment to soften the criticism, but it didn't seem particularly bitchy to me. And I really don't see her tweet as the directed personal attack Sherman-Palladino took it to be.
    :Look, I’m not going to get into a pissing match with Shonda Rhimes
    because she has 15,000 shows on the air, and she’s doing just fine for
    herself:

    Wait, what? When did it turn into her getting picked on by the successful mean girl. You have Gilmore Girls under your belt, you ceased being the little guy when your show got an Emmy.

  • Artemis

    Yeah, Dustin, you fucked up here. Shonda Rhimes didn't use profanity, she didn't make it a personal attack on S-P, she didn't even sound particularly angry so much as disappointed. The idea that even though she expressed herself way more politely than 95% of the world -- especially the Twitter-using Hollywood world -- she should have used *slightly different* different language or should have been more flattering with her criticism ("no really! I love you! but maybe you could maybe think about maybe having a black person in your show, which is totally awesome by the way!") before it's okay for her to start a conversation about race is... a really, really common way to derail discussions of race.
    And S-P's response is complete bullshit. Women don't have an obligation to never criticize other women, and pretending that being disappointed about an all-white cast is "not supporting" women showrunners is infuriating on about a zillion different levels.

  • mediamaven27

    Ok I'm pretty sure Shondra wasn't just mad about "Bunheads." I can't remember a single black character with a story arc in all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls. That's roughly 154 episodes. Yeah, so... Amy - what's that about?

  • EshinX

    I do remember Lane and her mother (Asian), Michel (mixed race and French-Canadian), and Miss Patty (Puerto Rican).

  • Pookie

    All of a sudden Shonda Rhimes is upset because some broad didn’t have the proper ratio of blacks in her show. Rhimes should go sit her ass down somewhere and meditate on some shit. Rhimes didn’t stand up for Isaiah Washington when he got kicked off of her show all because he wasn’t going to let some motherfucker talk shit to him, Washington got damned near blackballed. They embarrassed the man, had his ass going to psychiatrist, the man had to go before some Hollywood board just so he could make a living. Fuck Shonda Rhimes, she didn’t stand up for the black doctor so her daughter could see someone that looked like her become successful..

  • Princess Di

    Excuse me Pookie (Isaiah Washington, is that you??), you need to have a seat. Rhimes didn't say a black person, she said a person of color. There are more people of color than just blacks.

  • Pookie

    Motherfucka please, you know goddamn well Rhimes
    was referring to black people. Its motherfuckers like you that insist on wearing blinders and continue to reinforce intolerance.

  • Jezzer

    So we're going to cluck our tongues at "Bunheads" while steadfastly ignoring "Girls"?

  • Cimorene

    Well, to be fair, when the creator of Girls was criticized for the lack
    of diversity on her show, she was basically like, "Oh yeah, I didn't
    notice that, probably because the show is about me and I'm super white.
    That's fucked up. Sorry. I'll work on that. My bad." Which is basically
    the appropriate way to react when you've been called out on your
    perpetuation of systemic racism.

  • Jezzer

    And then the show finally had persons of color in an episode. As nannies.

  • Jezzer

    *jiggles the bait again*

  • To go old-school with it, they can both kiss my black ass. Twice. On the pink.

    Maybe Shonda Rhimes could devote a bit more effort to matters of quality on the shows she already has on air (Private Practice, anyone? I didn't think so.) so they don't suck lemon balls as badly before she talks about anyone else's projects.

  • Princess Di

    Dustin - I am really starting to question your character seeing as though this is the second post where you refuse to acknowledge the importance of having a conversation that brings to light the lack of diversity of television. It's like your constantly side stepping the issue, and/or completely missing the point. I too am a bit disappointed.

    Actually, forget it...I'm out. Videogum was raised right.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Enough of this rancor. The only way to resolve this dispute with honor is a duel. Jello wrestling at dawn! We all win!

    Oh wait, these are behind the camera folk. Select from your respective casts and name your champions, then make with the jello wrestling. OK, now we all win.

  • tessa

    Really Dustin? You are using tone argument now? I'm very disappointed in you, not mad, just disappointed.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Tessa/Ranylt - thank you! That was my response on reading this post too. And it is relevant, especially as S-P comes back with a lame feminist response.

  • pajiba

    A "tone argument"? I don't know what that means, I'm afraid. All I was saying is that, while I agree with Shonda Rhimes' sentiment, there's a better way of presenting it. You can do so in such as a way as to present the problem and open up a dialogue instead of putting Sherman-Palladino immediately on the defensive.

  • Guest

    It's a thing. You may or may not agree with the principle!

    http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/...

  • pajiba

    Huh. I had no idea. Interesting. I don't think, however, that I was limiting my criticism to feminists (in fact, Rhimes wasn't making lodging a feminist complaint). I'm pretty sure that EVERYONE would get better results if they brought an issue up politely instead of resorting to angry accusations.

  • Guest

    If only social change worked that way, historically. Sometimes it does! Sometimes it doesn't, and a shift in tactics is required. I'm of the camp that we need multi-pronged approaches because different people respond to different things: polite, rational discourse + comedy + angry diatribes + protests + fictional depictions, etc. I think if we used just one approach, we'd stall because we'd only affect one of many types of listeners.

    Personally, my mind has been changed by "rude" retorts. First I'd get defensive and dismissive, but over time, things sink in. So in retrospect I'm grateful for those sharp tongues--they made me dwell and think and pay attention.

  • Guest

    The "tone argument" fallacy isn't limited to feminist discussions (but I believe started there)--it's social-justice-wide now. I just used the first link I found.

  • Cree83

    The tone argument is relevant to comments about racism/race issues as well. (example discussion: http://theangryblackwoman.com/...

  • pajiba

    Man, I thought I was advocating for civility and politeness, and it turns out I'm a "concern troll." I am going to have a word with my Southern upbringers w/r/t their outdated concepts involving manners.

  • It's not a matter of manners, it's a matter of thoughtfulness. If the situation were me and one of my gay friends, and they called me out in the manner that Rhimes did, I wouldn't really blame them because if I had been thoughtful in the first place, I wouldn't have side-stepped the issue. On top of that, I wouldn't have implied that someone who's dealt with a shit-load of negativity regarding their sexual orientation needed to adapt a specific way of speaking to me about it in their retort.

    I know where you're coming from, and I'm all about tact and thinking before you speak in real life. But when it comes to people lecturing me, a black woman, about how I called them out when they made some sort of privileged comment, you'd best believe they get the MAJOR side-eye. No non-black person gets to tell me how to feel about issues regarding my race and sexuality, and they don't get to tell me how to talk about it either. And if you're black, I'll listen but I might not agree.

    I hope that made sense. You're one of the most thoughtful people on the internet these days, so I hope you see what we're talking about.

  • Cree83

    I just wanted to clarify that the criticism that someone is using a "tone argument" could apply, at least the way I've always understood it, even if Rhimes wasn't making a feminist complaint.

    In any case, nobody's saying we should live in a world without manners, but for what it's worth, Rhimes's tweet seems relatively benign to me - no foul language, no calling out the writers or show runner by name, no personal insults. so Sherman-Palladino's response is the one that seems out of proportion and unmannered to me.

  • Scratch McGee

    Oh le sigh. If that ONE! person of color had been thrown in, as if that wouldn't have then provoked "token person of color" jibes. And you really need a person from your corner of the color palette to feel good about your kid watching a show?? What is THAT teaching the kid? I will plonk my child down in front of a show filled with whatever colored humans and feel good based solely on the entertainment factor, thank ye kindly.

  • Cimorene

    Spoken like a true white person, who doesn't have to notice the absence of people who are the same color on tv.

  • weaver56

    The problem with this is that there are almost no shows that exclusively star people of color. So, most of the time, non-white kids are being "plonked" down in front of shows that focus on white people. What do you think that does to their self-esteem?

    I do agree with the controversy of the "token" character. It's great when they're portrayed as a three-dimensional characters, but that's often not the case. I mean, the original "Little Rascals" shorts, which were made in the thirties, had black characters, but they were there to reinforce harmful stereotypes. However, non-inclusion is just as bad.

  • Inaras

    It's absolutely possible to write a character who's the only POC/LGBTQ/poor/disabled/other-demographic-ignored-in-tv-world person in the group without turning them into a token. It's all a matter of craft. If you take the lazy route and define a character entirely by their ethnicity/sexuality/tax bracket/ability you get a token. If you do the hard work of writing a fully-fleshed out individual who's defined by their own unique personality, you get a real character. Any writer who claims they can only write middle-class able-bodied straight white people because TOKEN! is probably a hack anyway.

  • Ruthie O

    It's science.

    "If you are a white girl, a black girl or a black boy, exposure to today's electronic media in the long run tends to make you feel worse about yourself. If you're a white boy, you'll feel better, according to a new study led by an Indiana University professor."

    http://www.sciencecodex.com/st...

  • ,

    *fist bump*

  • ,

    "so I could feel good about my kid watching this show"

    Wait: She's not going to feel good about her kid watching a show if it's well-written, if it's funny, if it displays believeable characters dealing with human situations with compassion and understanding and good humor and wisdom? She's only going to be counting colors, and teaching her kid to do the same?

    Jesu Christi, am I the only one who thinks that's kind of fucked up?

  • Cree83

    If you were watching TV and there were only people of color, and not a single white person, I'm pretty sure you'd notice without having to count colors. If you flipped through dozens of channels and only saw non-white people, I'm almost positive you'd notice, and start to wonder why TV just up and decided that white people don't have any stories worth telling.

  • ,

    But that's not the case. It's not like there are ZERO black folks and Asian folks and gay folks etc. etc on TV, is it?

    And fuck your kid's self-esteem. If your kid is getting all of his/her self-esteem from fucking TV shows, then YOU, as a parent, have royally fucked up.

    "Mom, I just noticed there aren't any people on this show who look like us."

    "Oh, sweetie, fuck that show, I'm sure there are 'Cosby' reruns on somewhere."

  • Cimorene

    You realize that tons of studies have shown that the media's implicit racism (i.e., the absence of POC on tv, and so on) has a demonstrable impact on the self-esteem, self-image, self-worth of minorities, right? It's not like this is about the precious feelings of someone's precious babykins. It's more like, a recognition of the deplorable conditions of white-as-fuck standards on television.

    At least part of why so many Black people were psyched when Obama was elected was the fact that Black kids had a president who looked like them, all being president and stuff. It's also why so many women love Hilary Clinton, and wanted her to be president, so that people's daughters could see a woman being president, looking like them them and and all being president. It's also why people are so excited that Pixar is finally making a movie with a female lead. Why people loved Bridesmaids, and why it was about more than a funny movie. I mean, this is not rocket science.

  • Cree83

    I'm not asking television to parent my child. I'm asking television to realize that, hey, people like me exist, and we have actual real lives, we're not just here to add color to the lives of some white person, and we have problems and issues that are maybe worth talking about, and we have stories that people maybe would be interested in hearing. I shouldn't have to go back to TV from 20 years ago to get that from my entertainment. I'm not sure why it seems bother people so much that we want to see more people like us on TV. It seems like a pretty reasonable request.

    I'm not that worried about the kids though. Seems like children's television is actually not doing that bad diversity wise, compared to television overall:

    http://jezebel.com/5912440/an-...

  • weaver56

    I have yet to see Bunheads, but are there really no people of color? That's really quite despicable. I don't think she could even get away with the "it's a small town, so there won't be much diversity" excuse because Stars Hollow, no matter how pale-faced most of the townspeople were, at lease had the Kim family (Lane & her mom) and Michel. Sure, most of Rhimes' shows have tipped into the soap-opera genre, but at least she presents a relatively diversified cast.

    I saw Sherman-Palladino's response as bitchier than Rhimes' tweet. It's basically saying, "Hey, I know that my show ignores a good chunk of the female population and continues to uphold the problematic focus on white women that modern feminism has, especially in media (see: "Girls"), but fuck you for not giving me a congratulatory hug."

  • I've only ever seen bits and pieces of Gilmore Girls, but I don't think that the ridiculously stereotypical portrayal of a high-strung, demanding Asian mother and her overly neurotic and precocious daughter is a good example of diversity in a TV cast.

  • I live in a town of 1300, in the middle of the bread basket. This is the whitest place I've ever lived, and even we have people of color. Not many, but some. There might be some all-white enclaves out there, but I'm not thinking that would be a selling point for the show.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Despicable? Bit harsh, yeah? Doubt she kept it all white to make a statement. Seems like Grimes is saying that a token black person would have been better than none at all, too, which is kinda absurd to me.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Am I missing the part where she addresses the fact that she really didn't cast any minorities on the show? She's pretty crafty in avoiding that.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Grimes, you idiot. There are literally thousands of movies and shows from the 40s and 50s that dont feature ANY color, let alone people of color. Why dont you direct your anger there instead of at a fellow member of vagina guild?

  • Because criticizing a culture that existed before you were born tends to have no results, while actively voicing concerns about the cultural messages in a currently running TV show aimed at girls in her daughter's age bracket might result in a broader awareness and inclusion of non-white people (as if they actually exist as fully-realized humans in the real world!) as part of the cultural norm? Just guessing.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Sigh....the internet really needs a sarcasm font. Or i need better jokes. Did ya really think I wanted Grimes to take her anger out on shows that were filmed in balck and white, shows that "dont have any color?"

  • Nah, my reading comprehension is just off. This is what happens when I come into the AC after gardening in the heat. My apologies.

  • [Insert long rant about how people of color can't react angrily about the fact that yet another show has an all-white cast. At least not without being called out for some other thing they did not actually do - i.e., undermining another (white) woman.] Sometimes, I get tired of how willfully ignorant people can be.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Did Sherman-Palladino ever address Rhimes's legitimate question?

  • Groves

    Yeah. This to me clearly makes Sherman-Palladino in the wrong. This is like Derailing for Dummies #1, and she should be embarassed for not just owning up to the critique.

  • 'Guess who wins?
    Nobody'
    Coincidentally the exact same amount of people who care.

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