Creators of OITNB and Transparent Butt Heads at New Yorker Festival

Illustration for article titled Creators of OITNB and Transparent Butt Heads at New Yorker Festival

About their approach to art, anyway. All was revealed at the New Yorker Festival, of course, where all the serious beefs go down.

On Saturday, during the "LGBTQ TV" panel moderated by New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum, Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan got into it a little bit with Transparent's Jill Soloway, according to Vulture. Soloway is seeking a trans woman writer for her show's next season, and is going so far to have an open audition in which to train a few, given that she... apparently can't find any trans women TV writers? This seems somewhat odd but props to her for trying.

Kohan, though, thinks that approach is limiting. "I think great writers should write great shows," she told Soloway, "and I have trouble with, like, what you are in life shouldn't automatically make you what you do in your art. It doesn't necessarily translate." That certainly shows in her approach—Kohan's staff writes one of the most diverse woman-casts on television, although OITNB has been criticized for everything racial stereotyping to the prison setting. (Kohan also commented on staff writer Lauren Morelli, who notoriously came out and started dating Samira "Poussey" Wiley while working on the show, and poked fun at Soloway's attempts at trans diversity. "I turned her gay. I made her gay," she said. "I felt there wasn't enough balance in the room, so I have a magic wand and I make people gay. But, you know, I can turn her back. I can make people Hispanic. I can make them black.")


Alternately, it's nice to see Soloway being mindful of inclusivity, being aware of her staff's limitations and attempting to give work to trans writers, especially after casting a cis man, Jeffrey Tambor, as a trans woman in the lead role. (She hired him because he reminded Soloway of her own father, on whom the show is loosely based. Transparent has trans actors in smaller roles and, apparently, some trans people working behind the scenes, too.)

Michael Lannan (Looking), Brad Falchuk (Glee, American Horror Story), and Peter Paige (Queer as Folk) were also on the panel. In 2011, Falchuk and Ryan Murphy wrote a pilot for FX entitled Pretty/Handsome, starring Joseph Fiennes as a trans gynecologist, but it was ultimately rejected. Creative differences or no, OITNB and Transparent (and American Horror Story: Freak Show, whose "Amazon Eve" is played by trans actress Erika Ervin) shows how TV is progressing, slowly but surely, in the realm of trans visibility.


Image via Getty

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Olivia Pope's Wine Glass

I just think that the fact we live in a time when two female showrunners are even in a place to be butting heads about this topic as it pertains to their wildly successful tv shows, is a pretty cool thing.