1:00pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
GLAAD Emotions, 'Karate Kid' Reunion Among Press-Tour Highlights (and Lowlights) From Day 11
With not one network presenting at the Television Critics Association press tour on Friday, Aug. 4, the day was dedicated to an assortment of what were called "industry panels."
What "industry panels" meant ran the gamut from a Nielsen presentation using many slides to update reporters on the changing ways Nielsen is able to measure people watching TV in 2017 to panels on LGBTQ issues organized with the help of GLAAD to an introduction to the Warner Bros. digital platform Stage 13.
The emotional conversations on the GLAAD panels were the day's highlight, but for silly fun, it was hard to beat YouTube Red bringing out William Zabka and Ralph Macchio amid blasting music and flashing lights to go head-to-head as a tease for the upcoming streaming sequel Cobra Kai.
Really the day had no lowlights, so these are just highlights ...
Show me the money. Nielsen started the day with an interesting presentation illustrating how much of today's TV viewership takes place outside of the live-plus-7 window, suggesting many shows with huge growth in the 8-to-35-day range. This is fascinating. And true. But who's selling ads on that 8-to-35-day window, and if nobody's selling ads on it and nobody's making money on it, what's the use? "From a Nielsen perspective, what we are trying to do is just empower our clients with the ability to decide whatever kind of deal that they want to make," said Brian Fuhrer, part of Nielsen's product leadership group. "So the 8-to-35 isn’t just a custom report. It’s flowing through all of the transaction systems and the files that they need to make deals. A great quote from one of our clients was, 'Do you know what? Even if I don’t necessarily change the definition of "currency" yet, at last this allows me to show people what they are getting for free.' So it starts to open it up. And I suspect that we are going to see, when you look at the additional audience out there, people starting to entertain at least a 14-day window."
The internet is for porn, but YouTube Red probably is not. YouTube Red's upcoming series Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* makes many, many, many jokes about how people think YouTube Red actually is a porn site, or just sounds like it ought to be a porn site, but how many people out there actually make that mistake? YouTube chief Susanne Daniels isn't exactly sure, which may be why she finds the jokes funny. Added Rawson Marshall Thurber, writer-director of Ryan Hansen, "I think that when a network has a good sense of humor about itself, then it kind of opens you up and lets you tell any jokes you want. So I was really happy about that, for sure."
Labor Management Relations Act of 1947. Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* (the "*" is important) isn't necessarily a great series, but it's cheeky and funny and knowing about both Hollywood and crime procedurals, and it manages to have a number of laughs that are really dumb, a few that are really sophisticated and a joke about the Taft-Hartley Act. "Two people will laugh at a Taft-Hartley joke, but it’s literally my favorite joke in the entire pilot. So that’s what I mean, is that those sort of deep cuts, I think, when they do connect with that 0.3 percent of audience members, make an audience love a show. It’s not that those are our only jokes. We have plenty of other jokes for all comers. But being able to do a Taft-Hartley joke in a show is pretty special, I think," explained Thurber. Noted star Ryan Hansen, who has also done a series in the past for CW Seed, "I think the best part about a new space is you get to kind of have a lot more freedom. On the typical networks and stuff, there’s a lot of people saying what you can and can’t do. So in this, we get to do a lot of crazy things, like different formats, a lot of weird jokes, making fun of our own network and all that stuff. So I think there’s just really a lot more freedom and fun to be had, and I like to have fun."
Step one for Stage 13. Stage 13 is part of the Warner Bros. Digital Networks, and its first original series, Snatchers, premiered on go90 this summer. The platform will fully debut this October with a number of new shows including Two Sentence Horror Stories. It's a platform that many (or most) critics didn't necessarily know about before the day of panels, but now it's definitely on a few radars. Of the platform's mission statement, Diana Mogollon explained, "Number one: showcasing the very best original fresh voices out there today. And, number two: reflecting our world in a truly multidimensional way. That is, all of us have heard of the multicultural conversation time and time again. Well, for us at Stage 13, it’s beyond that. It’s beyond race and demo. It’s about a true mindset and about understanding what makes young audiences tick, from their lifestyles or passion points, their identities, their expressions and allow those to be the inspiration and the unifying force to tell amazing stories in the most innovating way possible."
Role models. Honestly, just about every second of the two GLAAD-affiliated panels could be listed as a highlight, including a question about which lesbian, gay and bisexual characters on TV meant a lot to them growing up, which prompted both Stephanie Beatriz and Lena Waithe to immediately turn to panelist Wilson Cruz and agree, "This one."
Maybe *don't* bury your gays. A sharp rise in the deaths — often violent deaths — of lesbian characters on TV prompted lots of frustrated, saddened and angry writing about the trope known as "bury your gays" and left some writers claiming they don't think in those terms. GLAAD's director of entertainment research and analysis offered these thoughts on why it's important to do so. "I don’t think that they were ever coming at it from some sort of area where they just wanted to hurt people. I think that they probably just didn’t know. They didn’t know the sort of long history of this issue and just how far it dates back to, like the Hays Code and all of this kind of history that goes into it. Because it’s not just a problem of one show and one character. It’s just everybody doing it over time, and over time, and over time adds up to this really kind of, like, toxic thing, that as a queer woman, if you’re watching TV, you kind of learn, 'OK. Well, I can’t have a happy ending. I am never going to find love. I’m not going to live a happy, long life with my partner.' So I do think it was just that they were not aware. I think it’s amazing how the fans kind of just led this charge last year, that it got to be a big enough issue that it started getting national coverage, and people kind of became aware of these things and are hopefully going to do better as they start developing new shows in the future." Added Wynonna Earp executive producer Emily Andras, "All I see right now on social media is kids who are seeing themselves on television get killed. And I think if you live in a small town where you’re already struggling to come out or see yourself represented, I think that can do a lot of damage. I think we can write three-dimensional LGBT characters. And I hope you do get to the point where we have enough heroes that we can have amazing gay villains and amazing everything across the board. But right now, I think there is a bit of responsibility that we need to be aware of these tropes."
Container of humanity. The two GLAAD panels addressed first LGB representation and then transgender trends, and Transparent actress Alexandra Billings explained the connection, but also separation, between the two. "You know, the 'T' was added later, which is why it’s at the end," she chuckled. "We are, as we usually are, an afterthought. Happy to be included, but an afterthought nonetheless. I think the one thing we all have in common is that we’re all marginalized. We all come from an ostracized place in society, and we all understand each other in that particular queer container. And historically, we have all fought the same fight. So, we’ve all always been in the same place, it’s just, you know, now we’re actually labeling things. And the label, really, the LGBTQIA, is for people who do not identify that way, so then you all have some place to put us. Hopefully, one day, the initials will go away, and we can all just live in the container of humanity. That would be great."
Not standing Pat. I've already seen some Twitter pushback to Jill Soloway's comments about the Saturday Night Live sketch "It's Pat," and it feels to me like the kind of thing where it's important to have her whole quote out there. Soloway said, "In terms of talking about the past, I talk a lot about these kinds of triggering recovered memories about the character 'It’s Pat' on Saturday Night Live, which was a hateful, hateful, awful thing to do to nonbinary people, to create this character that the whole world laughed at openly, that they were invited to not only think of as a victim or a villain but an entire series of years of a sketch about the idea of pointing at a person and laughing at them because they were nonbinary. We didn’t understand that at the time, but in looking back at that, what an awful piece of anti-trans propaganda that was handed out for many, many years."
As was emphasized throughout the panel, it comes down to how you see yourself represented in the media. If you're a cis male or female, there's no lack of representation diversity, and so, positive or negative depictions, you're able to choose which versions represent you. If you're nonbinary and the media representation is Pat, and that's about it? That's what you get? Those sketches wouldn't be so funny. [If they were ever funny. My memory is of Pat only occasionally being funny.]
A different story of seeing yourself. Billings recalled a time in the mid-'70s before she transitioned, sitting on the edge of her bed, miserable, with a handful of pills in her hand. "So I turned on the television, and I was watching Phil Donahue," recalled Billings. "And there were these three beautiful, sparkly, shiny human beings, witty and funny, intelligent and talking about all kinds of their life. And I thought, what fabulous — like, they are incredible. I love these women. I love these women. I want to be these women. And then the questions from the audience were so strange. 'What bathroom do you use?' Do you believe we are still having that conversation? … And as the interview went on, come to find out, they were all trans women. And it was at that moment that I said out loud — and I know this is happening because it’s happening to you in your life and you in your life that a trans person, a young trans youth, will say, which I said out loud — 'Oh, there I am.' I recognized immediately that that was part of my tribe. Just in my inner life, I recognized myself."
Do better. The last word from the GLAAD panels, for this post's purposes, goes to Laverne Cox. "We have to do better because there’s so many stories that have yet to be told, so many trans folks out there who are not being represented," she said. "The brilliance, when we get to speak up and speak out — social media has been a great example of that we are brilliant. I’m just going to say it. Trans people are brilliant, and there’s just so many examples of that here on this stage and beyond. And when we have voices, when we are loud, our voices are amplified because, of course, we have voices. When these voices can be amplified in media, what gifts we are to the world. I want trans folks to know, and I want trans youth to know, that they are gifts to the world, that they are anointed, and they are called for something really beautiful and incredible."