Today an article in the Wall Street Journal clued us in that writing staff of Mad Men is dominated by women — in fact, seven out of nine members are female. Perhaps this should come as less of a surprise: Variety’s recent list of top 10 list of screenwriters was 50 percent female. And then there’s Diablo Cody’s Fempire. But women writers in Hollywood usually get pigeonholed into writing romantic comedy (Sex and the City) or dramedy (Grey’s Anatomy), and Mad Men is anything but funny.
The article goes onto explain that Matthew Weiner, the show’s creator, didn’t set out to hire a team of women; he just appreciates writers with “emotional honesty.” (Note: If we’re being emotionally honest with you, here’s where we’d admit that we’ve always found the writing on Mad Men seriously lacking… but that would be disloyal to our sex, right?) He also likes to promote from within:
Kater Gordon, 27, for example, had worked for executive producer Scott Hornbacher and was baby sitting Mr. Weiner’s four sons. After the kids went to bed, she watched Emmy screeners and impressed Mr. Weiner with her opinions. Ms. Gordon started as Mr. Weiner’s assistant on season one and was soon promoted to writer’s assistant and then to staff writer on season three.
We’re not sure why we’re so offended by this bit. Is it Kater’s age? Or the fact that her L.A. Cinderella story began with a babysitting gig? Or maybe it just sounds too much like something that would happen to Peggy Olson.
The piece also makes Weiner sound like a bit precious. Aside from instructing his writers to read Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl to get a feel for the time period and decorating his office ’60s-style to set the mood,
Mr. Weiner once stopped a scene in season one and asked the props department to find smaller apples to fill a bowl because fruit was smaller in the 1960s. He asks actresses not to have toned arms or porcelain veneer teeth and directors say he requires that actors whose characters smoke (and most of them do) have also smoked in real life.
Weird, right? Almost makes him sound like a bit of a Bertram Cooper. And hints at why this series (which we love, mind you) often feels like it’s more focused on style than substance.