Nancy Franklin, in her review of Jay Leno’s new TV show in the current issue of The New Yorker, writes:
In other diversity news, Leno’s and the rest of the nighttime comedy shows are bizarrely lacking in women writers. Did a bomb go off and kill all the women comedy writers and leave the men standing? The other night on the Emmy Awards broadcast, the names of the nominees for best writing on a comedy or variety series were read, and, out of eighty-one people, only seven were women. Leno has no women writers on his show. Neither does David Letterman, and neither does Conan O’Brien. Come on.
Come on yourself, girl: of all of the other prose writers in the October 5 New Yorker, you’re the only woman yourself! Did a bomb go off in Times Square and leave only male writers standing? The authors of the other featured articles and reviews, whose names appear to the left of the article on the p. 2 table of contents, are named John, Zev, Jon, Robert, Anthony, George, James, Alex, Hilton, and David. (Oh, OK: one of two poets is a woman. But who reads those, anyway?) If only 7 of 81 nominated comedy writers at the Emmys were women, the New Yorker’s numbers this week are just as craptastic, with only 1 women author out of 11 articles! These numbers are so pathetic that it’s pointless to run them, but let’s run them anyway: 7/81 = 8.6%, and 1/11 = 9%. Awesome! The Supreme Court of the United States has both of you beat by a country mile, with 2 out of 9 women (22.2%!) As the kids say these days: lolsob!
So, yeah: come on. David Remnick has been running this rag like a game of beer pong in the basement of a frat house in Hanover, New Hampshire (and at about the same level of sophistication, IMHO, but maybe that’s just me. I didn’t grow up in a pre-war six on the West Side between 77th and 115th streets, so what do I know, anyway?) This week’s numbers are pretty much in line with what I’ve observed over the last several years: women writers are relegated to the lower-status “separate spheres” of TV and dance reviews, with an occasional short story or feature article. (But only very occasionally!) They let a few more women write for the “fashion” issues, but not as many as you’d think even then.
We’re glad you’re there, Nancy, and we’re right with you on the absence of women writers for television. But–doesn’t it get lonely where you work, too?
(For more on this issue, see “And speaking of sausage parties,” a post from last March.)