Ryan Murphy Says He's "Not Interested in Shock Value Anymore"

The prolific TV producer also explains why he changed his mind about making Donald Trump a character on FX's 'Pose.'
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Ryan Murphy and Ronan Farrow

Ryan Murphy is not just moving on from 20th Century Fox. The extremely prolific writer, showrunner and mega-producer says he's done trying to get a rise out of viewers — at least in the ways he's long been known for.

"I'm not interested in shock value anymore," Murphy said during a Wednesday conversation with Ronan Farrow at the Beverly Hilton. "I've gotten away from sexuality and violence and how far I can push the envelope."

The event, hosted by the Hollywood Radio & Television Society, saw the two men talking about Murphy's evolving tastes, discrimination in Hollywood, and the multihyphenate's exceptionally large slate, one that's only set to get even bigger in his move to Netflix.

"The idea of being prolific in our world is sometimes seen as a negative," said Murphy, whose latest series (FX's Pose) was just renewed for a second season days earlier. "The new thing I'm doing focuses on [projects] that aren't just not in my view. I'm working with young talent, trying to get them in the system and trying to change the system."

Murphy and Farrow may seem like strange bedfellows, but both men have been among the biggest instigators in the current push for change in the entertainment industry — Murphy for his aggressive moves for representation both on and behind the camera, and Farrow for his role in taking down Harvey Weinstein. (Rumors of Farrow's next subject, in his efforts to expose sexual harassment and assault across professions, has been a source of fevered industry debate.)

Pose was something Murphy was keen to speak a lot about while he was onstage. The drama, which features the largest assembly of transgender actors ever cast on a TV series, has been a passion project for Murphy — who twice mentioned the idea of "showrunning as advocacy."

"It's something that started for me earlier but really kicked into high gear on Pose," said Murphy.

Speaking of Pose, Farrow brought up an early draft of the pilot that included Donald Trump as a character. The '80s-set drama about cultures and economic classes clashing in New York does include a Trump Organization employee, though there's seldom a mention of the man himself.

"When we wrote the first script, I thought I was being super clever about it — a young Donald Trump," explained Murphy, who penned the pilot alongside Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals. "But I just don't want to see him. I didn't want to see that face or hear that voice. I didn't want his presence to pollute something I thought was beautiful."