Sometimes it's hard to convince people that sexism is still a problem in this day and age, so it's nice that Two and a Half Men creator Lee Aronsohn has offered up such a clear example. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about a possible tenth season for the CBS comedy, Aronsohn shared some unsolicited thoughts on women in comedy. "Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods," he said. "But we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation."
Before announcing that he's no fan of female-centric comedies like 2 Broke Girls and Whitney (then in a weird turn, praising Whitney Cummings, Chelsea Handler and Tina Fey), Aronsohn said at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference that he makes no apologies for consistently portraying women as bimbos on Two and a Half Men. "We're centering the show on two very damaged men. What makes men damaged? Sorry, it’s women. I never got my heart broken by a man."
So what exactly is the "point of labia saturation"? Apparently it's having women make up only 15 percent of writers on prime time shows in the 2010-2011 season. While some might see the numbers from San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film as evidence that women are grossly underrepresented in writer's rooms, Aronsohn explains that no one wants to hear about experiences shared by 51 percent of the population. Women are clearly too preoccupied with their disgusting bodily functions to write good comedy. Tina Fey might have a few Emmy's under her belt by now if she could turn in a 30 Rock script that doesn't consist of Liz Lemon discussing nothing but Kotex and douching for 22 minutes straight.
After realizing that his protest against the existence of a measly half-dozen female-centric comedies might not go over well, Aronsohn admitted that his show isn't the height of comedy. "We do far too many fart jokes on Two and a Half Men," he said. "I’m the last person to judge." However, it was too late. His remarks prompted a huge backlash online, with Raising Hope star Martha Plimpton Tweeting, “The rise of female writers and performers in television is a result of demand. So we’re taking our place at the creative table" and Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead quipping, “You realize that if we are at Peak vagina, the prices at the pump are gonna skyrocket." (Ladies are so cute when they're angry!)
Finally, Aronsohn apologized, Tweeting, "Yes, yes - it was a stupid joke. I'm sorry." Unfortunately, that was undercut by his earlier Tweets, in which he said, “Women, please look up ‘irony’” and explained that he's “made a career out of” jokes about the male anatomy though he was “complaining about vaginas.” (Those Tweets have been deleted).
Even if Aronsohn is truly sorry for his misogynistic comments, it's unfortunate that he perceives a competition between male-centric and female-centric shows. There has been a push to put more female-driven content on TV, but that doesn't mean programs like Two and a Half Men or The Man Show must be banished from our TV screens. Women just want an opportunity to produce quality writing, without having their work automatically dismissed because it might include a leg shaving reference. If that's what happens when we finally reach "peak vagina," then women and men who enjoy Fey's SNL sketches, Mindy Kaling's Office scripts, and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy should be welcoming "the point of labia saturation."
[AOL TV, NYT]
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Claire is an attractive CIA operative and Ray is an M16 agent who simultaneously leave their Governmental spy activities in the dust to try and profit from a battle between two rival multi-national corporations both trying to launch a new product that will transform the world and make billions. Their goal is to secure the top-secret formula and get a patent before they are outsmarted. While their respective egomaniacal CEOs engage in an unending battle of wills and one-upmanship Claire and Ray start out conning and playing one another in a clever game of industrial espionage that is even more complicated due to their own long-term romantic relationship.
WHO’S IN IT?
Reuniting Closer co-stars Julia Roberts (as Claire) and Clive Owen (as Ray) turns out to be an inspired idea. They turn out to be the perfect pair oozing movie-star charm and electricity in this elaborate con-game that might have been the kind of thing Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant might have made in the '60s (in fact they did in Charade). Roberts with that infamous hairstyle back the way we like it and Owen looking great in sunglasses prove they have what it takes to navigate us through this ultra-complex plot in which no one is sure who they can trust at any given moment. They play it all in high style and the wit just flows as the story skirts back and forth during the period of five years. The supporting cast is well-chosen with juicy roles for Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti (out of their John Adams duds) as the two CEOs going for each other’s throats. Giamatti who sometimes has a tendency to overdo it is especially slimy here and great fun to watch.
Big-star studio movies today rarely take risks and often talk down to the audience but in Duplicity writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) has crafted a complicated con-comedy that requires complete attention at all times just to keep up with the dense plot’s twists and turns. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a New York Times crossword puzzle and Gilroy and his top-drawer production team deliver a glossy beautiful-looking film that’s easy on the eyes hitting locations from Dubai to Rome to New York City.
Like any good puzzle it sometimes can be frustrating putting it all together and Gilroy’s habit of taking us back in time and then inching forward gets a little confusing even with the on-screen chyron pointing out where we are at any given moment. Stick with it though and you will be well-rewarded.
A scene near the end where the formula must be found scanned and faxed in a matter of minutes is sweat-inducing edge-of-your-seat moviemaking and it provides the ultimate opportunity for Roberts and Owen to take the “con” to the next level. Another where Roberts uses a thong to try and trick Owen into admitting an affair he never had is also priceless and gets right to the heart of the game-playing.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
Never. Stock up during the coming attractions. If you miss a moment of this entertaining romp you might never figure it all out.