Is The Secret To “Mad Men”‘s Success The (Mostly) Female Writing Team?
After “Gilmore Girls” and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” went off the air, us smart ladies looking for strong female characters flipped through the boob tube channels, alone, confused, and bleating for someone, anyone to come to our rescue. (Sorry, but Liz Lemon on 30 Rock never fails to piss us off for always coming around to see her boss’ point-of-view by the end of the episode.)
Female leads we could identify with—um, no you, Kate Gosselin, are not what anyone would expect to find on a show about the boozy, womanizing, frat boy culture of a 1960’s Madison Ave ad agency. But the nail polished fingerprints of the seven women who comprise “Mad Men”‘s nine-person-strong writing team are all over every episode. [Wall Street Journal] Matt Weiner, the creator and show runner of “Mad Men” said that filling 7/9th’s of his writing staff with women was not intentional, but that he strives for emotional honesty in his writers and that has turned out to come from women. To emphasize the rarity of a mostly-female writing staff, the WSJ cited a San Diego State University study that found nearly 80 percent of TV prime-time shows in the 2007-08 season had zero female writers.
We’re not surprised to discover a female writing staff behind the plot points of “Mad Men”‘s first two seasons, which have all been sympathetic to middle class women’s struggles in the ’60s: Betty Draper’s isolation in Feminine Mystique suburban hell, Peggy Olson’s exclusion from the boys’ club of office socializing, and Joan Holloway’s rape, just to start. Really, we don’t think it would be the same show if it were written mostly by dudes.