Callie Khouri, the creator of ABC’s Nashville and the screenwriter for Thelma & Louise (for which she won an Oscar) has done enjoyable interviews with Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood in the past and this week’s is no exception.
Silverstein asked Khouri about the “ongoing conversation” about whether women are allowed to be likable on television, using Hayden Panettierre’s character Juliette on Nashville as an example. Of Juliette, Silverstein said, “I think what you’ve created in that young woman is a young woman who doesn’t need people to like her.” Khouri replied:
I think she wants people to like her, but ultimately she doesn’t know how to get people to like her because she cannot not be herself. That’s the price of being yourself sometimes. It’s like, yeah, the difference between “she’s a strong leader and knows what she’s doing” and “she’s a bitch.” I don’t think of her as a bitch. First of all, she’s playing a young girl who’s had to fend for herself for most of her life with a horrible parental situation. She is somewhat made of steel. And then she’s young, and she makes really bad decisions sometime too. Someone sent me this sign: “Everything happens for a reason and sometimes that reason is that you’re stupid and you make bad decisions.” What I’m mainly interested in is not having women characters that have to be perfect, obviously. That’s something I feel strongly about and have that in every single thing I’ve ever done. None of these women are obligated to be saintly.
As a follow-up, Silverstein asked if the conversation about female characters “has progressed at all.” Khouri didn’t seem to think so:
I just think that we don’t have these kinds of conversations about male characters. The fact that we have to discuss that there are female characters doing something that female characters don’t get to do is a little bit galling. It’s 2014. There’s still so far to go.
Image via ABC