Bill Persky Sees GIRLS

What? You don’t know who Bill Persky is? How about this for starters?


Persky is a five-time Emmy Award-winning writer, director, and producer. He’s the author of My Life Is a Situation Comedy and performs in the one-man show Whisper Whoppie. The views expressed are solely his own.

And then there’s his IMDB listing.

Bottom line: When Bill Persky speaks about comedy, we all should listen. And he’s speaking now:


The Problem with Lena Dunhams Girls

by Bill Persky

Lena Dunham is clearly a bright and talented young woman. At only 26, she is the creator, director and star of her own series, HBO’s Girls, about a quartet of twentysomething females of varying backgrounds, attributes and problems, sharing what is presented as a contemporary female experience. Just before she won two Golden Globes, Parade magazine put Ms. Dunham on the cover, referring to her as “That Girl.”

With all due respect, actress Marlo Thomas was, is and always will be the original — and only — “That Girl.”

If I seem defensive, it’s because I am: I was the co-creator of That Girl, a series that featured television’s first single, working woman — who did not need a husband to find happiness. I’d like to think that over the course of its five-year run, That Girl managed to lift the aspirations of an entire generation of young women in the late 1960s. While I applaud Miss Dunham’s accomplishments, I am saddened by the message of a show that lets its characters wallow in low self-esteem, high self-pity and perpetual victimhood.

When That Girl failed, she figured out why and started over — instead of diving into a quart of Haagen-Dazs.

When That Girl doubted herself, she got to the root of the problem with her smarts — not by sleeping with the pizza delivery guy.

I don’t question that Ms. Dunham is being honest and writing in a way that feels true to life, but it is an uninspiring experience to hold up as an example to young women who are trying to find their way in today’s complex and unsupportive world. Instead of wanting more, as did That Girl (in a time that was equally challenging) the Girls seem satisfied with accepting less — of themselves and others. In a recent episode,  Lena Dunham’s character Hannah is asked to write about going “outside her comfort zone” and proceeds to snort coke, expose herself publicly, and let down her friends. Where’s the human dignity?

Girls is not the only female situation comedy with a self-respect problem, although it’s probably the most intelligent. Two Broke GirlsThe New GirlThe Mindy ProjectDon’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 — all of these shows portray characters who, week after week, take the uninspiring path of casual, empty sex and small aspirations.

I am not just some old guy yearning for the good old days of television — which weren’t always that good, by the way. And I should add that the depiction of young men is equally uninspiring: I don’t think you will find a future president — let alone a potentially good husband — among the sex-crazed slackers, nerds and underachievers featured in Two and a Half MenHow I Met Your Mother and Happy Endings. (Then again, they are superior beings compared to the Neanderthals who populate beer and takeout pizza commercials.)

But I’m worried about how young women are being depicted on TV. As the father of three daughters, one stepdaughter, two granddaughters and five goddaughters, I know that, beyond the input of our family, they are the product of the environment around them. You would think that a young female talent like Lena Dunham would be showing her generation a way up, rather than reinforcing the idea that it’s cool to be down.


DOCTOR WHO Wins A Peabody Award

George Foster Peabody Awards

And why the hell not?

Here’s what the Peabody Awards Committee had to say:

Doctor Who (BBC America)

The BBC Cymru Wales

Seemingly immortal, 50-years-old and still running, this engaging, imaginative sci-fi/fantasy series is awarded an Institutional Peabody for evolving with technology and the times like nothing else in the known television universe.

In case you don’t know about the George Foster Peabody Awards, they’re a Very Big Deal. Here’s how their website puts it, and it’s being modest:

First presented in 1941, the George Foster Peabody Awards recognize distinguished achievement and meritorious service by broadcasters, cable and Webcasters, producing organizations, and individuals…

Selection is made each spring by the Peabody Board, a 16-member panel of distinguished academics, television critics, industry practitioners and experts in culture and the arts…

The competition is open to entries produced for alternative distribution, including corporate, educational, home-video release, CD-ROM and World Wide Web. In general, such non-broadcast or non-cable entries should be publicly available.

Other scripted winners 0f the 72nd Awards include:

Southland (TNT)

John Wells Production in association with Warner Bros Television

Shot on location in Los Angeles neighborhoods both posh and blighted, focusing on characters whose personalities have become more nuanced by the season, it’s a gritty, weekly ride-along, as convincing as cop drama gets.

Switched at Birth (ABC Family)

Prodco, Inc. in association with ABC Family

What could be a reality-show premise – two families discovering their teenage daughters, one of whom is deaf, were switched at birth – is explored with honesty, imagination and humor in this superior family series.

Game Change (HBO)

Playtone Productions and Everyman Pictures in association with HBO Films

A behind-the-scenes account of what happened after John McCain picked Alaska’s charismatic, combative governor to be his running mate, it’s a story worthy of Euripides and Robert Ripley.

Louie (FX)

Pig Newton, Inc., FX Productions

Louis C.K.’s self-reflective, shape-shifting series about a single, show-biz dad is daring and endearing, scandalous and sensitive, a milestone of comedic reach and candor.

Girls (HBO)

Aptow Prod and I am Jenni Konner Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

Creator/star Lena Dunham’s singular, decidedly unglamorous take on sex and the single girl and the city reverberates with anxiety, angst, insight and rueful humor.\

See the full list.

TVLine Comedy Writing Emmy Poll

Nope, don’t know where the Drama Writing Poll is but hope it shows up soon

TVLine has a poll asking the wonderful – for writers – question:

Emmys 2012: What Should Win Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series? – by Michael Slezak

We’ve reached the episode-specific portion of our “Who Should Win” Emmy poll series, so it’s time to hit the rewind button on your internal DVRs to ensure a fully informed voting process. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the race for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. That statuette has gone to writers from Modern Family for two years running, but is certain to change hands in 2012, as the ABC smash was left off the list of nominees in favor of some upstart critical darlings…

What would you do if you had the power to honor one of these fine episodes when the Emmys are handed out in September? Choose your favorite in our poll below — TVLine voting closes Sept. 14, so act now! — then hit the comments to justify your pick!

What Should Win Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series? Community: “Remedial Chaos Theory” Girls: “Pilot” Louie: “Pregnant” Parks And Recreation: “The Debate” Parks And Recreation: “Win, Lose, Or Draw”

Read it all and vote here

Taking advantage of this unusual opportunity (someone caring about our writing preference), we voted for LOUIE “Pregnant.” What about you?