An interview with “Rizzoli & Isles” creator Janet Tamaro

AE: So then do you feel responsibility as a female showrunner, writer, producer to help other women?

JT:
Yes, absolutely. The other thing is why not celebrate some of the things that women are. Yes, we’re more sensitive. And, yes, we do sometimes take things more personally. And, yes, we try to collaborate. And all of those other things that make us women. Why not say, “Yes, that’s true” and it’s not negative.

AE: When did you become aware that the show had a large following of lesbian and bisexual women?

JT:
It was a surprise, quite frankly. I think the people at TNT told me after the first or second episode of the first season and when they told me I thought cool, that’s just cool. And, by the way, “I Kissed a Girl” was already written. So that wasn’t pandering. That was done.

AE: So why did the lesbian fanbase surprise you?

JT:
I think of my work like a writer. It bothers me when I read about this calculated attempt to get an audience. It’s not where I want to write from. I think I was really just writing about a friendship. I’ve been on so many canceled shows, I assumed it would get canceled. I didn’t even go far enough to think who is going to watch it. I don’t think like that. I just thought, what do I want to write? What would I want to watch? What makes me laugh? What would make other people laugh?

AE: Can you see, even though you didn’t create it with that in mind, why the fans would read subtext into the show?

JT:
Hell yeah.

AE: Did that subtext become a topic of discussion with the writers?

JT:
No. I mean, you don’t want to fall into the trap of pandering to any audience. I just want to keep making this show better and the characters better. And I think the actors feel the same way. I try not to let that interfere with the creative process.

AE: The gay community, obviously, saw the subtext but were you surprised before the start of the second season that the more mainstream media started to pick up on it as well and asked questions?

JT:
I wasn’t surprised. Part of me thought, “Yeah, so? That’s a story?”

AE: We try to have fun with the subtext. We do recaps, other people do drinking games.

JT:
The actresses have shown me stuff on YouTube and honestly, we find it a wonderful compliment that people would take the time. Some of them are so clever. That stuff amuses me and I love the passion behind it. I love that people are interested. It’s so much better than a nasty review.

AE: Do Angie and Sasha feel the same way about the attention?

JT:
Absolutely. The three of us feel the same way. You know, it’s funny, I wondered about Angie when I was constructing “I Kissed a Girl,” because she is very conservative. We know this about her. But, in terms of social stuff, she is not the least bit conservative.

It sounds ridiculous, it’s one of those things straight people say, but she has a lot of gay friends. But she does, she has a lot of gay friends. And she was totally cool with that. And she is totally beautiful. She has a massive female fanbase and I would guess a large percentage are gay or bisexual. So it’s not like that’s a surprise. It’s like, how cool is that?

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