Lodge 49 drew about 600,000 viewers by the end of its first season, and 0.1 percent of the 18-49 demographic. There are surely other factors in play (budgets being one), but the fact remains: The genial, weird, philosophical show about male bonding was renewed and the ambitious, messy, urgent show about women’s anger wasn’t.
This urges a simple inquiry. What has #MeToo actually managed to change in Hollywood? A year into one of the most powerful and high-profile rejections of male misbehavior in modern history, it’s clear that the entertainment industry has taken some positive structural steps forward in tackling sexual harassment and gender inequity. Studio heads accused of harassment and misconduct have been ousted (albeit with substantial kiss-offs in some cases). New training is being put in place for executives and leaders, and SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, is working to impose new regulations to protect actors in vulnerable situations.
But what about the more nebulous issues, the ones that are harder to determine? Like who gets promoted, whose films get picked up at festivals, and whose shows get renewed? Or who gets to tell their stories at all? This year, according to statistics published by the advocacy group Women and Hollywood, women comprised just 27 percent of creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography working in television. It’s a figure that’s actually fallen since last year. Women account for 40 percent of speaking characters on television, a figure that’s also dropped.
At first glance, it might seem like issues of workplace safety and issues of representation on- and off-screen aren’t related. But harassment and assault aren’t just about sex. They’re about power: who has it, and who gets to wield it. Hollywood’s abuse problem is also a gender inequity problem, and so far, that problem endures. Looking at the slate of anticipated and newly arrived fall TV shows, a theme emerges. Forever, Kidding, The First, Maniac, The Romanoffs, Escape at Dannemora, Homecoming, The Good Cop, Into the Dark, The Little Drummer Girl, The Kominsky Method: Series that are helmed by—and are in large part about—men predominate.
This isn’t to undermine exceptions like the tremendous Sorry For Your Loss (by the newcomer Kit Steinkellner), or to diminish the success of existing shows like Killing Eve, Jane the Virgin, and Insecure. It’s to emphasize that a year later, as many of the men implicated during the #MeToo movement are quietly returning to work, it’s clear that not much has changed creatively at all. As Dietland’s Noxon told me back in February, “If this was really a reckoning, it wouldn’t mean that just a few guys have lost their jobs.”
After the first Weinstein allegations broke in October 2017, it was a matter of weeks before critics started to grumble that the outing of bad men had gone too far; that women were conflating actual sex crimes with “childish behavior”; that this was becoming a witch hunt; that decent men were losing their reputations and their livelihoods because of a shrewish, zealous overreaction to workplace flirting.