In today’s arguably ‘politically correct’ dialogue, panelists from AMC Network’s most popular programmings dismiss the confines of what one can and cannot say in Hollywood during an era led by the #MeToo movement and inclusive diversity at the second annual AMC Network Summit held in New York City’s Lower East Side.
Panelists including cast members and show executives like Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and Sally Woodward Gentle, Brockmire’s Hank Azaria, Joel Church-Cooper, Richard Kind and Tawny Newsome, and Better Call Saul’s Mark Johnson all chimed at the summit’s theme of “Story Matters” in regarding to what happens when “Comedy Meets Gravity” and “How Far Is Too Far?” According to the conversations moderated by actress, comedian and writer Jill Kargman, who stars on the Bravo series Odd Mom Out, when it comes to comedy, against popular belief, there is no such thing as too far
Sherman’s Showcase co-creator and star Bashir Salahuddin, who got his start as a writer for NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, added that there are no boundaries when the writer’s room has the necessary representation it needs.
“You want to have a sense that the people [behind the scenes] are representing the people you’re talking about and are saying ‘we can make fun of ourselves about this,’” said Salahuddin. “It’s an immediate filter to make sure you’re making the right decisions and you’re not sitting here in a room full of people, making fun of another group of people who aren’t represented in that room.’”
Brockmire’s showrunner Joel Church-Cooper added on by constituting it’s all about “punching up. There are plenty of stupid, incompetent people in power.”
“Punching upwards is very safe territory,” added Church-Cooper. “A lot of backlash is coming because jokes that used to fly 20 years ago don’t fly anymore for legitimate reasons. But as long as you’re punching up you’re in safe territory.”
Church-Cooper continued by noting that as long as the narratives are being told truthfully by the writers and characters, the opportunities for comedic genius are boundless and plentiful.
Documentary Now! and Brockmire star Richard Kind added by proclaiming that “everything is safe in the writer’s room.”
“There may be mistakes made, prejudices that come out of people’s mouths, they are tempered by each other, and then what comes out of the writers room is something that has been gone over by the writers and then makes it to America. Some really horrible stuff may lead to real brilliance,” said Kind.
“There’s a sense that men can get away with certain things and women must have more decorum, and I find that really quite insulting and it’s just not true,” said Woodward Gentle. She gleefully proclaimed that women are in fact equally as “filthy and f**ked up and inappropriate. We have men in our room, but in the end, it’s these women giving amazing female actors voices. We’ve never self-censored.”
Tawny Newsome of Brockmire concluded with some final thoughts on today’s conversation surrounding censorship and political correctness in the entertainment media industry.
“It’s wild that half the industry sees this as a time of censorship, where I see it as a time where I finally have space,” said Newsome. “I feel today it’s more like, ‘Hey, I’m a disabled person’ or ‘I’m a queer person, and these are the ways I like to talk about myself and tell my story. So please get on board with that.’ And we’re getting more space to do that.”