'Off the Cuff' Podcast: Christopher Noxon Is More Than Jenji's 'Plus One'
The author and husband of 'Orange Is the New Black' showrunner Jenji Kohan tells #THRpodcasts how to separate truth from fiction in his new novel about, well, the husband of a successful showrunner.
"We met playing kickball in Silverlake. So '90s," Christopher Noxon tells Off the Cuff about how he met his wife of 17 years, Jenji Kohan.
"I went because I was super excited to play kickball," he explains. "Jenji just went to meet guys. So, apparently it worked out for her!" This anecdote comes as little surprise to anyone who has followed Kohan's tenacious career through the years as she has gone from staff writing gigs (on series like Tracey Takes On ...) to pilot limbo (she sold 12 before one ever got made) to creating and running groundbreaking series like Weeds and Orange Is the New Black. By her side for much of that has been Noxon, a journalist and author whose latest book, Plus One, tells the story of an advertising executive who quits his job to stay home with the kids when his wife's career as an Emmy-winning showrunner kicks into high gear. Though he's quick to point out that the book is fiction (noting, for example, that his wife is a "consistent award loser"), Noxon certainly has his share of Hollywood horror stories to draw from.
"It's stifling and kind of awful for a lot of people," he says about the kind of "Hollywood conformity" that can make people think they need the "Salvadoran nanny and the 2.5 kids" to be happy. The protagonist of his book, Alex, is faced with just that kind of paradox, which Noxon describes as being "careful what you wish for because pretty soon you're sitting there with a cucumber water at 3 p.m. having some exotic facial" and wondering why having everything you want doesn't feel all that fulfilling.
Despite the book being a "jumble" between real life inspiration and pure imagination, Noxon let Kohan have the first read to make sure nothing about the characters' marriage felt to her like a violation of privacy. Her response?
"Go with God. I love it. It's great," he remembers her saying. But then a month before publication, "She flipped out. She was like, 'Everyone's gonna think it's true!' "
He tells us what finally convinced her that "these people aren't us," how he's different from his Plus One alter ego ("I do stuff and have never stopped doing stuff") and why he doesn't necessarily care if the pilot he's writing from the book ever makes it to air:
"I will have made more on those 40 pages of script than I probably will from the 300 pages of novel that I've spent the last two and a half years writing," he points out ironically.
And what will Kohan do if Noxon does suddenly find himself running a show of his own?
"She'd love to stay home," he insists. "We find ourselves sort of yearning to trade places a lot."
Listen to Noxon's full interview in this episode of Off the Cuff, and be sure to subscribe to #THRpodcasts on iTunes for all the latest episodes.