Given all the recent and often unexpected series cancellations, we consider this article to be a true Public Service Announcement. Oh, and for you, erm, oldsters, this way of looking at things also works if you’re grieving about getting old:
by Laverne McKinnon
Let’s talk about grief. After all, it is the end of pilot season. I’m intimately familiar with the subject having worked at CBS and Epix and made countless pass phone calls. And as a producer, I’ll admit that I’ve been on the receiving end of more passes then I’ve given out. And if I’m really honest, there have been several times in my career where I’ve thought, “There must be something wrong with me because I can’t move on.” The grief got me stuck.
Rejection is literally a daily occurrence in this business, complicated by an expectation that one needs to have a “thick skin” or “get over it.” If you don’t, then you don’t belong in entertainment because you’re not tough enough. The rejection stories are not just about pilots that don’t get greenlit — there are firings, down-sizings, missed auditions, pitches that no one buys, ideas that aren’t optioned, writers replaced, actors recast, shows canceled, etc., and etc., and etc.
What’s still a taboo in our industry, though, is talking about the grief that occurs in the professional realm. Grief is typically reserved for death. What we do is just entertainment so why should we be sad?
Acknowledging the loss and the grief that occurs in professional situations is a critical part of the human experience. We can’t choose to deny aspects of our life and also expect to feel connection and belonging. And if we don’t feel connection and belonging, then our communities fall apart. The stakes are that big.
Part of the taboo around expressing grief also comes from the importance placed on perception in our industry, and our own shame if we aren’t at the top of our game. We don’t want to appear weak, or that we’re not always winning. So we mask our feelings of loss and soldier on … but the grief hangs on like an anchor, either slowing or stopping us completely….