In preparation for a lecture at the French Embassy tonight I watched the first episode of season 4 of Engrenages/Spiral. It was fantastic. Dark and gritty with a female police captain.
It was created by Alexandra Clert, who wrote it after nine years of criminal law and an advising capacity on another series. She said she wanted to make her role indispensable so writing/creating was the way to go.
Matthew Weiner who created/showruns “Mad Men” said he wanted to write professionally because he couldn’t hold down any other job. He gets confused by office politics and particulars. He also described that in a writers room you have people playing cards all day and have secretaries typing just so it sounds like there’s work, then everyone goes home and that’s when they write. Because you can’t be creative with a gun to your head. And also anytime you are supervising creative people you are going to run into problems with deadlines.
He also described a moment writing for The Sopranos where he asks “Terry” Winter if he should ask for an extension of a deadline, just a day. “Dave didn’t look at the last one for two weeks!” He says. Terry just looks at him and advises him to no, not do that. Just don’t. It didn’t matter, and he sees this now that he’s the showrunner, you just need that script on your desk. Every eight days.
They said many other interesting things but at some point Ms. Clert declared she was not a “feminist,” that she believed in appreciating the difference between the sexes and not for affirmative action. She also said that in Sweden where there is complete parity, she was hit in the face with a door because men don’t hold the door for women there.
Mr. Weiner responded that Sweden is not known for its manners generally, and brought up that it’s nice for her to be able to say that but without feminism she would not be where she is, that her characters would not be lawyers and police officers and that it’s now a post-feminist society.
At this the progressive New York audience at the French Embassy let out the breaths they had been holding and applauded. It was an interesting moment in an informative and inspiring discussion.