Female Writers Live Mad Men

Illustration for article titled Female Writers Live emMad Men/em

The Mad Men blitz has included a wave of Twitter followers and sleek avatars, a rash of retro cocktails and a mass screening in Times Square. Not bad for a stealth women's show.


As Amy Chozick writes in the Wall Street Journal,

Behind the smooth-talking, chain-smoking, misogynist advertising executives on "Mad Men" is a group of women writers, a rarity in Hollywood television. Seven of the nine members of the writing team are women. Women directed five of the 13 episodes in the third season. The writers, led by the show's creator Matthew Weiner, are drawing on their experiences and perspectives to create the show's heady mix: a world where the men are in control and the women are more complex than they seem, or than the male characters realize.


One thing that's a fascinating echo - and refutation - of the show's plotline is the number of women who rose up through the ranks. Jennifer Getzinger started as a script supervisor and has become a director. Writer Kater Gordon was a babysitter for creator Matt Weiner's sons, impressed him with her acumen, and started as his assistant. One assumes there was less clawing - and far less degradation - than in Peggy Olson's rise from secretary to copywriter; but that these writers might particularly relish her ascent.

One particularly striking quote from the piece: "A lot of people think women can only do women shows," says one of the writers. It's ironic that a show shedding so much light on the prejudices of another era should come out of one of the most backward. 80% of Writers Guild members are male, and only 27% of TV writers are women. When women do write - Tina Fey, Nora Ephron, or a creator like Joss Whedon encourages female writers - it's considered newsworthy.

Yesterday I wrote on an Esquire article that called for "better chick flicks" that men could get into. Well, Mad Men is widely considered to be the best-written show on TV, a "men's show" whose secret is its women - onscreen and off. But there's an irony at work: these women are writing about characters working in a male ghetto - and being regarded not as members of the team but as aberrations - while living it. People think female writers are Sex and the City; I'm guessing this, paradoxically, is a more accurate portrait.

The Women Behind ‘Mad Men' [WSJ]
On Being a Female Writer in the TV Business [Huffington Post]
OK, So Teens Don't Tweet. But Pretend People LOVE Twitter! [AdAge]

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Isn't Sex and the City written by a dude (primarily)?