Hasn’t Fox shown lesbian kisses before?
Yeah, on Firefly and Boston Public. But there’s a lot of conservatism at the networks, because the networks are invariably run by conservative umbrella corporations that are not as liberal as the television employees. If it were up to [producers] Gail Berman and Craig Erwich, I’m sure they would have no problem with the two women kissing, but they’re answering to a higher power than themselves.
I do get that, I understand those concerns but I hope that as we get further along with the show and develop a fan base we’ll be allowed to more fully explore that aspect of her character.
So they’re holding your show to a different standard because it’s new.
Yes, that grip will be loosened a bit once we find an audience. There’s always a nervousness at the networks with new shows with hot-button issues and not wanting to give anyone any reasons not to like the show, especially at higher levels in the network.
But I think also when you see two women kissing on shows like Fastlane, it’s fun, it’s exploitive, and it’s like “ooh, hot chick-on-chick action” and it’s to get the straight guys to watch. When you’re talking about two adult women in a serious relationship that is genuine and tender, I think it scares them because you’re trying to say that gay people are normal. When it’s played as a joke it’s easier for them to digest than when it’s actually real. We’ve definitely been advised not to say the word “lesbian” quite so much, and to not make that such a focal point with Sharon’s character.
Do you think the networks are getting more progressive on this topic, or less?
I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a yes or no answer to that question. Once Wonderfalls has an audience, we will be able to “earn” those moments instead of fighting for them–right now we usually lose those battles, but we may be able to win them if the show becomes a hit.
You’d think with all the attention around gays in the media lately that these standards would have relaxed a little more than it sounds like they have.
I think there are instances where it’s become more relaxed, but then you have backlash””like the overreaction to the Janet Jackson incident. That had a global effect on all sorts of television.
Are you at all concerned about the Friday night timeslot?
One of the great things about airing on Friday nights is that expectations are very low. Even we even make a blip in the ratings on Friday night at 9pm, our chances of being picked up for a second season are much stronger. And frankly, if it was good enough for The X-Files, it’s good enough for us.
What else are you working on?
I’m writing an animated pilot for the sci-fi channel based on a Mike Mignola comic called The Amazing Screw-On Head. I’m really enjoying working with the Sci Fi channel–but I’m also really