4 items from 2017
The Customer Is Always Wrong ’s Mimi Pond on Turning Diner Drama into Period Piece Comics »
126 people have written or co-written an episode of “The Simpsons,” most of whose names you probably don’t know. Among that company is Mimi Pond, who happens to have penned the long-running show’s first episode; in a new Jezebel interview, Pond says that she never became a full-time member of the writing staff because she’s a woman.
“I was never invited to be on staff, and I never knew why for the longest time,” she says of her experiences. Eventually the truth came out:
“No one ever called me or explained to me or apologized or anything. And it wasn’t until years later that I found out that Sam Simon, who was the showrunner, didn’t want any women around because he was going through a divorce. »
- Michael Nordine
Mimi Pond, the writer of the first-broadcast episode of “The Simpsons,” says she was shut out of the Fox cartoon’s writers’ room because then-showrunner Sam Simon only wanted men writers. Pond, the cartoonist who wrote the show’s premiere episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” was never hired as a full-time writer on the show because Simon refused to have women on his staff, she said in a Jezebel interview earlier this week. “I was never invited to be on staff, and I never knew why for the longest time,” she said. “No one ever called me or explained to me. »
- Reid Nakamura
For a show that gave us Lisa Simpson, one of the most feminist TV characters of all time, “The Simpsons” hasn’t always been a welcoming environment for women. Just the opposite in fact, according to Mimi Pond, who wrote the classic sitcom’s inaugural episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” In an interview with Jezebel, the cartoonist and graphic novelist revealed that her career at “The Simpsons” stalled when then-showrunner Sam Simon insisted on the writers’ room being entirely male.
“I was never invited to be on staff, and I never knew why for the longest time. No one ever called me or explained to me or apologized or anything,” Pond recalled. “And it wasn’t until years later that I found out that Sam Simon, who was the showrunner, didn’t want any women around because he was going through a divorce. It had remained a boys’ club for a good long time. I feel like I was just as qualified as anyone else who came along and got hired on the show, and it was just because I was a woman that I was, you know, not allowed entry into that club.”
Pond continued, “The show is so beloved and everything, and I’m sorry to burst bubbles but [laughs] it wasn’t a pleasant experience for me.”
This isn’t the first time Pond has (rightfully) gone public with her experiences at “The Simpsons.” She also talked about it in an interview with Drawn & Quarterly and on the Maximum Fun/NPR podcast “Bullseye with Jesse Thorn.”
The reports of sexism at “The Simpsons” aren’t exactly shocking. Throughout pop culture and the internet, there are frequent references to the writers’ room being a paradise for new, male Harvard grads. And there has never been a female showrunner in the series’ nearly 28-year history.
It’s disheartening that the people behind Lisa are not practicing what they preach gender equality-wise, but the problem goes much further than “The Simpsons” — or Simon deciding that he can’t be around any women because he was divorcing one (seriously, Wtf?). According to research from Dr. Martha Lauzen, 71 percent of the series during the 2015–16 TV season featured no female writers.
Pond’s semi-autobiographical graphic novel “Over Easy” was published in 2014. The Pen Award winner and New York Times best-seller follows Madge as she works as a waitress in San Francisco after leaving art school. The “Over Easy” sequel, “The Customer Is Always Wrong,” was published earlier this year.
While Pond maintains that the comics world presents more of a level playing field for women, she is not shy about sharing her frustrations with Hollywood. “It’s still kind of ridiculously bad and the pay scale is completely unequal. Whether it’s actors or writers or producers or directors or anything, women are still paid less,” she told Jezebel. “Stories that get made into movies are still dominated by men and choices that men make about what people want to see, which is always about men between the ages of 13 and 34. Women are still relegated to roles in movies of being the supportive helpmate, or the sexy, helpful girlfriend. It’s so tiresome. It’s beyond being sexist, it’s just so boring.”
“Simpsons” Writer Mimi Pond on Being Shut Out of All-Male Writers’ Room was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Rachel Montpelier
4 items from 2017
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