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1. At church, we had a sermon or speech on "unsolving the woman problem" - the minister is a poet, so the sermon is a bit like listening to a prose poem with various quotes, which completely works for me. Because I sort of think like that anyhow. At
any rate - what stuck out was this image...


"We don't want a piece of the patriarchial pie, we want a whole new recipe" and "currently the construct of consciousness is the white man surround by the various reflections of the other in a circle around him, woman, animal, race, etc...and that construct is slowly falling apart and being re-evaluated. (in short, it's no longer about him).


She stated, and this resonated for me, that when women enter male professions, they redesign the profession to meet how they view the traditional female role. In clerical leadership - it becomes more about pastoral care, nurturing. But here's the thing what if you are female and not a nurturer, what if you are male and are? To take a place at the table do we have to fit into these societal constructs? And when will we break free of the white male colonialism?

Food for thought. And something I can't ignore any longer. Another thing she said, which resonated,was many women struggle with their identity as women, their own sexism and chauvinism against themselves, their own view of how they should fit within the power structure and fears of what they lose or gain if that structure changes. This struggle has been expressed in every piece of writing by women that I've seen, in various guises. Most recently Nora Roberts Sweet Revenge, and now from another angle, Kim Harrison's A Perfect Blood.

2. This is by means of introduction to three interesting female television genre writers, who are in some respects far more versatile then some of their male counterparts. Say what you will about Marti Noxon, Jane Espenson and Rebecca Rand Kirshner's work - they have with courage and dignity carved a place for themselves within the television landscape, taking on writing jobs on series that their male counterparts on Buffy never would and coming up with a far more versatile resume as a result.

I've always found fandom's worship of male show-runners a bit annoying. It's understandable in the UK, because as Dominic West of The Wire and The Hour stated - in the UK, you usually just have one writer. Sometimes three, if you are lucky. But it is in reality just one show-runner's vision. It was one of his problems with UK series, there's less collaboration. So it's more stunted. The Wire felt freeing to him because you had a collaboration - it wasn't just David Simon's vision, but about ten people and the cast had input. This is less the case in the UK.


We fall into discussing the current state of British television drama, a subject I know is close to Dominic West's heart. I suggest that there was an almost palpable sense of relief behind the laudatory notices that The Hour drew, as if critics were grateful that Britain was still capable of producing well-made drama that wasn't too distantly buried in costume.

West thinks the system of writing is partly to blame. "The way it operates is that there is a lone auteur, whether it's Abi Morgan, Lynda La Plante or [Stephen] Poliakoff. There's always one lone genius. The reason I think The Wire was so great is that there was a lone genius backed up by seven great novelists. And the difference is mainly money. In The Hour we had one writer and six producers. In The Wire six writers and one producer."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/sep/04/dominic-west-clarke-peters-interview-othello

Having seen Doctor Who, Being Human and The Hour - also Downton Abbey - what strikes me about all of them is they have maybe one-three writers tops. While Buffy had six-seven writers, the showrunner writing maybe three episodes if that. In addition? US television has 22 episodes vs. British television's 6-13. Big difference. So the fandom adoration of RT Davies or Moffat doesn't bug me - that is justifiable. But the adoration of Joss Whedon over time has begun to grate, because its so disingenuous. They blame the other writers for the parts they disliked, and give Whedon all the credit for the parts they loved, while in some, this is true - it's collaborative, not all. Fans often blamed co-show-runner, Marti Noxon, for everything they hated. Or the bad episodes on Espenson and Rebecca Rand Kirshner, giving male writers such as Whedon, Goddard, Petrie, and Fury all the credit. This tendency underlines a disturbing trend in fandom, both male and female fans, regarding female writers or non-white male writers. Female writers are slowly gaining ground, but it's like the Texas Two-Step, two feet forward, two back. Women are as bad if not worse in this regard - in part for the reasons stated in #1 of this post - a discomfort with their own gender, and an internalization of the sexism and chauvinistic attitudes of the surrounding culture.

We see in the series Buffy and other bits of writing that Espenson, Noxon and Kirshner have written, reactions to these attitudes and an attempt to examine them. Also in their interviews they've addressed them. Oddly, all three at different points have given Whedon all the credit. Noxon in one interview disturbingly stated Whedon was more of a feminist than she was. (I see no evidence of this in the writing or employment practices of Whedon over the course of his career to date.) It's interestingly enough not until Kirshner and Espenson broke with Whedon that they were given the ability to run series. Noxon as well. Prior, Noxon co-ran Buffy with Fury and Whedon, she did not get to do it by herself, unlike Greenwalt on Angel and later Jeff Bell. I'm not sure why that is, but it is worth noting.


1. Marti Noxon


* In 1998, beginning with its third season, Noxon became a co-producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In 1999, upon the beginning of Buffy spin-off Angel, Noxon was promoted by series creator Joss Whedon to supervising producer for its fourth season, which gave her increasing charge of producing Buffy. During this season, Noxon cast Amber Benson as Tara Maclay.

Noxon would co-produce the show over its fifth season (2000–2001) with fellow executive co-producer David Fury, as well as direct two episodes ("Into the Woods" and "Forever"). At the 6th season's conclusion, fan reaction was mixed, leading some to criticize Whedon for abandoning creative control and stewardship of Buffy to Noxon. In response, Whedon said:

Dis not th' Nox. [...] Marti [...] and I shaped this year very carefully, and while we made mistakes (as we do every year), we made our show. We explored what we wanted to, said what we meant. You don't have to like it, but don't think it comes from neglect.
—Joss Whedon, UPN Bronze VIP Archive for May 22, 2002

Noxon was executive producer of Buffy between 2001 and 2003, for its sixth and seventh seasons.

In the fall of 2005, halfway through its first season, Noxon left Prison Break, where she had been a consulting producer, citing what she called "creative difficulties."

In April 2006, Noxon joined the ABC drama Brothers & Sisters (which would first air that fall) as showrunner. Four months later, she left the show, citing "creative differences" with creator Robin Baitz.

In September 2006, Noxon joined the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy for its third season, as consulting producer.

In April 2007, Noxon left Grey's Anatomy to become executive producer and showrunner for Grey's spinoff Private Practice. She left after its first season to "[move] on to other projects".[4]

In 2008, Noxon worked as a consulting producer on the AMC drama series Mad Men.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marti_Noxon


* List of Marti's Television Episodes to date, includes the most recent - Glee"

Marti has jumped genres. And written for a wide range of television series. (Personally, I'm not a fan of a lot of her writing, I admit that. But...I can't help but admire her accomplishment. Also in some respects I admire her the most of the three writers discussed her because she's struggled the most. Yet, it is hard to compare too neatly.)



* Nerdist Writers Panel

Notably, Noxon is the only woman on a panel with three men. It has the moderator, Craig, Danny, and then Marti - who is introduced last. Ironically, since Marti has done more and written more than any of the others.

Marti is asked about Buffy.

I'd already had an offer from The Pretender...and I'm like, sorry, Joss Whedon, I already have an offer on The Pretender. There's a pause, well, okay if you want to suck. Come here and become a good writer. And it was a risk..because it was based on a failed movie that even he hated and wouldn't let me watch.

We always started with what is the character's journey, really personal, and I did well there because I have no filter. Joss appreciated especially a woman who would go there. And I was known for punching things down, to take something funny and say just Fuck it.

I would do mildly melodramatic and intensely girly gothic stuff.

The thing I learned from Joss - he had enough self-confidence...usually a show-runner doesn't feel that confident and feel a need to humilate their writers. To prove only they could do this. But with Joss after we learned how to do it, he didn't re-write it, he let us be a part of it, to be proud of it. It was him but it wasn't. We got to be part of the work.

Also...back then we just got involved with the internet. We were just pleasing ourselves, didn't see the audience response. Unlike Glee - where they watch the twitter feed and pay attention to everything said on the net.

*First thing I wrote was out of college...and I was working as a waitress. Ran into a man as a customer, who is a director and asked her to come in and tell me some stories about being a waitress for this quirky show called As Life Goes On. Rick hired her as a development assistant. [So Buffy's waitressing and fast-food was based on Marti's background]. I was the worst development assistant and the worst agent, and was drinking a lot. And people broke into her car. No filter, no front. Cutting to the chase...I worked on that show, sold a script and didn't sell anything for 7 years. I just had someone who loved me and wanted me to write. But I hadn't found my voice yet, taking the leap to saying things that may expose me. I had an intense upbringing which resulted in writing things that were very false and everything ends up "happy". And by the way Joss Whedon was selling all those scripts and I fucking hated him. Damn him for selling all those scripts. God Damn Him for Being this Wonder Kid..

I had this one epithany at one point, I turned 30 and nothing had happened, my friends were doctors and had spouses, and I was in debt, no spouses, I was going to quit, I was going to be a shrink...and I was filling out the application for grad school. I finally and I realized I turned into a writer, because I couldn't do anything else any more. I didn't know if my writing worked at all, it just went to development executives. I was reading coverage on my stuff. But no real feedback. So I started writing plays....and those plays were freeing, it helped me find my voice and was how I got the job on Buffy.

The play that I wrote for an LA Actor's Studio project which Joss read, called Turn of the Wheel and it was all fraught and melodramatic and it was all about my mother. And my mother went to it and she sobbed...and she came up to me after-wards and asked, "I just want to know how you knew all about my mother." That gave me the freedom. I realized I could write anything. That people just don't see themselves. [Unless they are my parents, when they do. My father saw himself in my writing...but he's also a writer, critical and self-aware.]


[*Note: This was paraphrased and focuses on specific highlights that I felt like sharing, because I can't do shorthand or type fast enough to capture all of her commentary in the radio blurb - you'll have to listen to it yourself.]

This commentary is remarkable because - it tells us a lot about how Marti dealt with issues regarding her identity as created through her mother, which she shared with Whedon, and were incorporated in Buffy. The character of Spike, ironically, had a lot of Marti Noxon inside him as did Buffy. Her personal history is thrown into those characters. And unlike Jane Espenson, this was Marti's first professional writing job outside of play-writing.

On Point Pleasant...she got coaxed into it with a truck-load of money. Worst reason to do anything, sell your soul for money. She didn't connect with it and didn't feel it worked. And she thought it wouldn't never make it to series. Worked really hard, but was pregnant and her daughter born the week they went into production. She has children and has a life, and is ambitious.


"Men keep their ambition and it's so much harder for women. But you shouldn't be looking at a script workup at the same time you are trying to breast feed your newborn."

"I had a terrible anxiety that I'd never work again. So Brothers and Sisters came and I didn't relate to their problems, it's not my thing...and I thought it would never get picked up. And it did. Horrible experience."

"There was this article in The New Yorker or Times about Point Pleasant and they said we don't understand what happened with Marti Noxon, on Buffy her stuff used to be really good but she hasn't done anything good since, Joss must have written all her scripts."


* Here's more quotes in Marti's own words:


Question: Do you find it challenging to be a woman writing genre films and television?

Marti: You know, I don’t. I really don’t. I think it’s a fortunate time and that television writers are way more accepted in films and there are a number of women genre writers for both.

I think my next big challenge is to try to get into the more or less thriller/action, you know? I don’t think anybody’s coming to me with the next Mission Impossible, so I have to make that happen. That’s where I think the next barrier is, just thrillers and action. Those are the kinds of movies that they think women don’t typically go to.

You know, women drive a lot of the horror audience, which I didn’t know. So it totally makes sense that they would be accepting of women in that genre.

http://badassdigest.com/2011/11/17/the-badass-interview-marti-noxon-talks-the-fright-night-remake/

and

Regarding the Fright Night script:



Question: The women in the remake[of Fright Night] are much stronger and more resourceful than in the original. Was that deliberate on your part?

Yes. I mean, I obviously come with an agenda. I did a rewrite on Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and part of the reason I took that job is because of how hard it is to find strong female characters. I’m very excited for Hunger Games, I’m very excited for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, because those are awesome female protagonists. I can’t wait for those movies. It was a long wait between the last sort of really kick-ass girls and these new heroines.

It’s rare you can get a lead girl character, but if I have any girl characters, I try my best not to make her a dope. The original was a product of its time, of course. But I’m a mom, and I always cringe when the mom does a super dumb thing, you know? At the very beginning, I said, “Can the mom not invite [Jerry, the vampire] in [to the house]?” And they said, “Oh, but it’s such a seminal moment in the film!” and I said, “Yeah, but.” [laughs] That was certainly something I stood up for.


http://badassdigest.com/2011/11/17/the-badass-interview-marti-noxon-talks-the-fright-night-remake/



For those most familiar with Buffy - Marti like most women ignored the sexism and chauvinism. I'm a woman, deal.

Yet, many of the episodes she did...dealt with male violence or how men denigrated women:

* Beauty and the Beasts - spousal abuse and allowing love or a man to rule you, control you, because you love him. To give yourself to him completely, to be his dog.
* Into the Woods - the man wanting something from a woman she can't provide, wanting her to be the nurturer, and uncomfortable with his own role or identity. Riley had become the caregiver, the guy who waited at home and worried, and Buffy was the one with the Mission. Buffy was the stoic, non-feeling, non-communicative square jawed hero and he was the emotive spouse. The flip was genius. Here, Riley leaves because he can't handle being second.
* What's My Line Part I&II - which is a complex episode, but notable for Buffy being appraised for a traditionally male role - the female cop. And the human assassin is a female cop, and she survives and brings Buffy to Spike.
* Wrecked - this is the episode where Rack abuses Willow. Also Buffy again acts in the traditional male role - dumping the guy. He's nude. She's not. And Willow has more power than Rack - when he takes a taste of her, she gets more power - sucking it from him and getting high. The discomfort Marti feels in her relationship with the male writers - she liBuke Willow, is dependent on Whedon.
* Bewitched, Bothered, Bewildered - Xander gets dumped by Cordelia and does a spell to hurt her, and is oblivious to all the other women he's scorned or hurt. They come after him in lust, he pushes them away, and they get furious. Female rage. An excellent deconstruction of the nerdy guy who whines about not getting the popular girl to be his date - and depicting how incredibly shallow he is and how he objectives women. When the tables get turned...
* I Only Have Eyes for You - the older man/younger woman trope flips, and we see the older woman/younger man. Once again Buffy is put in the male role and Angel in the female role. Marti flips the genders and examines through that flip the prevalent gender stereotypes that she's uncomfortable with.

Even the scripts she got as films - were male oriented. Fright Night, I am Number 4. The leads are male. But Marti's scripts for Buffy, including the Heart Stuff (she was known as the Heart Gal) such as the end of Fool for You and the Willow/Buffy scene in Primeval...were often about the sick mother, female relations, and how it wasn't just about men.


Jane Espenson


As a teenager, Espenson found out that M*A*S*H accepted spec scripts without promise of payment or future work. Though she wasn't an established writer at the time, she planned to write her first episode. She recalls, "It was a disaster. I never sent it. I didn't know the correct format. I didn't know the address of where to send it, and then I thought, they can't really hire me until I finish junior high anyway." While Espenson was studying computer science and linguistics as graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, she submitted several spec scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation as part of a script submission program open to amateur writers; Espenson has referred to the program as the "last open door of show business."

Her next break was in 1992 with a spot in the Disney Writing Fellowship, which led to work on a number of sitcoms, including ABC's comedy Dinosaurs and Touchstone Television's short-lived Monty. In 1997 she joined the staff of Ellen as a writer and producer.[2] After a year, Espenson decided to switch from comedic to dramatic writing and applied for a position at Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Espenson
* Complete List of Jane's Work in TV, all TV no films.




*http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-espenson/being-your-own-best-audie_b_1192687.html


When people ask me how to write toward what an audience wants to see, I say, "Why would you want to do that?" I then apologize for being so abrupt. But, really. Forget the audience. Write what YOU want to see. Husbands is a pure example of that -- it was something that felt right, timely and funny to me and Brad Bell, so we made the show we wanted (with the invaluable help of a large number of amazing people) and trusted that others would agree.


* Espenson's Web Series: http://husbandstheseries.com/

* Espenson's defunct blog, now that she only writes for Huffington Post: http://www.janeespenson.com/



Espenson unlike Marti is more of a comedy writer. And in some respects has been more successful. And got into it faster.

Espenson's episodes of Buffy, unlike Marti's tend to be more humorous and in some respects make fun of the male chauvinism and sexism.
* I Was Made to Love You - an episode about making the perfect girlfriend. Buffy oddly identifies with Warren but also Katrina. A reading of the episode that I've never seen yet suddenly seems as clear as day to me now - is Buffy's identification with both April and Katrina.
She couldn't be the perfect girlfriend for any of her boyfriends. Riley left, Parker, Angel.
They all rejected her. Left her behind, as Warren does April. April who is super-strong, stronger than Warren that she scares him. Then there's Katrina...who Warren prefers and hides April from, much as Angel hid Drusilla and Riley the vampwhores, and Parker who he was. Like Katrina, Buffy discovers the male who wants her to fit this "role" is a monsterous. Then we have Spike who is pursuing her...
* Doublemeat Palace - The idea of working, and no one else is. She's the provider and in the provider role. And seeks sex as a way to forget herself. The paralyzing effect of the penis - which is literally a metaphor in the episode.
* Storyteller - the romanticization of women, they are pretty, Buffy is this sexualized hero, and Spike is the studly hero. How we objectify people in humorous effect.
* Superstar - also it is objectification - Jonathan like Andrew objectifies the women, and the men, romanticizes. The traditional view - the woman is weak,a damsel, the guy hot.
*Intervention - Spike has Warren create The Buffy Bot but discovers it doesn't work. She's not Buffy. It's just sex. The fantasy is false. He objectifies her but it's not real. Espenson specialized in the media's projected fantasy of male/female roles and deconstructing that in various ways.

Espenson appears at first glance to have been more successful than Marti in part because she can do comedy. She's currently writing all the Rumplestilskin episodes on Once and again, we are dealing with gender preconceptions. Men must be courageous and manly, and women must be beautiful and damsels, but they aren't. She deconstructs it. We also see this in her work on Caprica - where she plays with how the two little girls are seen by their families and who they are.


Rebecca Rand Kirshner


Rebecca Sinclair is a writer and producer for American television. Currently, she is the showrunner for the television series 90210. She served as co-executive producer on the CW series Gilmore Girls and as a writer on Freaks and Geeks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Las Vegas. She lives in Los Angeles, California. In 2009, Sinclair signed a deal with CBS productions to stay on board as showrunner of 90210 until its third season in 2011.

In March 2011, Sinclair announced her plans to exit 90210 in order to follow other creative interests. According to a CBS rep, Sinclair leaves on good terms with the studio, who brought in Sinclair as a saving force for the CW drama in its first season. Variety cites Sinclair's exit as a positive step forward for both Sinclair and female executives in Hollywood: ""90210's" Sinclair recently announced her intent to bow out of the show after this season to pursue other passions, like penning a novel. But the experience gained in her time at the helm will enhance her career no matter what she chooses to do next.".

She is the daughter of Harvard University astrophysics professor Robert Kirshner and the great-granddaughter of William Rand.

She married New Zealand filmmaker and musician Harry Sinclair in December 2008.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_Rand_Kirshner

* See this list for Rebecca Rand Kirshner now Sinclair's works"

- She started with Freaks and Geeks and moved on to Buffy.


* Interviews and Quotes from Kirshner on Writing

She doesn't say much and it's harder to find interviews on Kirshner. Note how she gives the credit to the male boss, this I've noticed more in the female writers than the male, although Marti in the section above questions it as does Espenson - who both state that they did their own work. He may have a hand, but they owned their work.


Joss is just such a master of storytelling. Every time I sit in there and am going, It could go this way, or it could go that way,; Joss will come in like a carpenter and put the two things together and you go, 'That's a well-made chair'. I will now sit in it.

http://www.btvs-tabularasa.net/list/rrk.html

How she became a writer: Go here -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/buffy/interviews/kirshner/index.shtml. Video and Text Interviews.

About the power dynamic in relationships, regardless of gender.


We also see a darker side of Willow.

She’s getting really, really powerful and when you have those powers and they’re growing, it’s hard to know when to stop. It’s hard to know what’s fair game and what’s not, and in a way it reflects Buffy’s relationship with Riley. [It’s about] what happens when two people of varying powers are working together or working on a relationship together. At what point do you have to stop being powerful to let the other person feel all right, and at what point is being as powerful as you can be the optimum thing for your relationship?



http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/buffy/interviews/kirshner/index.shtml - for Buffy interviews.




Rand Kirshner Sinclair's Episodes on Buffy

* "Out of My Mind" (First Aired: Tuesday October 17, 2000) - This episode is the one where Riley feels inadequate. In an interview Kirshner relates that she was interested in power dynamics, when the two people in a relationship are not equals. We see this with Spike/Harmony who ironically are equals, but not in intellectually. She can fight, he can't and he wants his power back - he doesn't want to be in the female role. Same with Buffy and Riley, Riley can't be weak and kittenish, he must be the strong one.
* "Listening to Fear" (First Aired: Tuesday November 28, 2000) - also deals with this, where Riley gets to be commando, but he can't save Buffy and feels inadequate.
* "Tough Love" (First Aired: Tuesday May 1, 2001) - Here Willow does. The idea of power inequality is examined. And insanity. How power can be abused.
* "Tabula Rasa" (First Aired: Tuesday November 13, 2001) - again memory, the idea of insanity, and how power is abused. The idea of being weak. Of being defined by lables, Joan - the slayer, Randy - horny and nerdish, and a vampire. But who are we really? Does memory bind us or free us?
And the power imbalance and what it means.

Kirshner after Buffy went on to executive Produce the last season of Gilmore Girls and run 90210.
Her resume isn't quite as long or as layered as the other writers. Nor did she write nearly as many episodes for Buffy, being hired in the 5th Season. But her talent for writing layered characters was evident.

* "Hell's Bells" (First Aired: Tuesday March 5, 2002) - again power imbalances. Xander stands Anya up at the alter because he fears he'll hurt her. That they aren't equal and he can't get past what she is and his parents violent relationship - which we finally see in depth.
* "Help" (First Aired: Tuesday October 15, 2002) - The boys take the girl and Spike aids Buffy in defeating them. Buffy can't save her. No matter what she does. The idea of identity. Am I who the world defines me as. What if I'm not powerful? What if I'm weak?
* "Potential" (First Aired: Tuesday January 21, 2003)- also about identity. Dawn wants to be a slayer, to be important. To be powerful. Can she be powerful as the brain, smart? Is physical power the only power?
* "Touched" (First Aired: Tuesday May 6, 2003) - How we are seen by others. Spike's speech to Buffy which empowers her. The idea of trust, of coming together as equals, and empowering each other. Not allowing the world to define us.

Kirshner's episodes appear to be about empowerment, mind vs. body or physical vs mental and the balance of the two, also defining oneself outside the bounds of gender or sexual orientation.


All three women writers added a certain degree of balance to Buffy and their work like all media, comments on societal constructs. They've gone on to carve paths for themselves in a difficult field. Some with more success than others.

What is not known about their contributions to Buffy?

* Jane Espenson came up with the idea for Robin Wood as Nikki's son. She also came up with a lot of the monsters.
* Marti Noxon created the characters of Spike and Dru and their relationship. Drusilla is Noxon's creation. Noxon also wrote and directed the ending of Fool for Love. In addition Noxon sung the theme song for Cordy's tv show in Birthday. And Noxon created the characters of Anya and Tara, as well as cast both roles. Anya is in some respects based on Noxon's own lack of a filter and is close to the writer in real life. Willow and Tara were based on a close friend of Noxon's lesbian relationship.
* Rand Kirshner Sinclair - became the go-to person for crazy or insanity in the series. She also helped with the Spike/Harmony and Spike/Buffy relationship, along with Willow/Tara.

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