The Problem With “Peak Vagina On Television”
“Two and a Half” men creator Lee Aronsohn is negotiating with CBS to bring the show back for a tenth season, with Ashton Kutcher continuing in his role as Charlie Sheen’s replacement. Part of why Aronsohn thinks the show ought to stick around, he told the “Hollywood Reporter,” is because he’s had e-nough all those shows written by chicks. “Enough ladies. I get it. You have periods,” he said, adding that “we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.”
Uh, WHAT? Anna North and I Gchat it out.
Amy: Okay, so a lot of horrible quotes to work with. Shall we address them piece by piece?
Anna: Oh, let’s! Re: the bit about him not being a fan of shows like “Whitney” and “Two Broke Girls” — he said, “Enough ladies. I get it. You have periods.”
Anna: I feel like he is referencing shows that have been highly criticized by women for being unfunny.
Amy: Basically he feels the need to continue inserting himself into a field that is hardly hardly hardly female-dominated. I mean, OH MY GOD CHICKS ARE WRITING SITCOMS!
HIS IMPORTANCE AS A MAN IS HEIGHTENED!
Anna: Right and also, since TV (and Hollywood in general) have been male-dominated for so long, even any female-authored show is like “OMG periods.”
“Too many periods in here, back to dudes please.”
Back to Ashton Kutcher farting.
Amy: Don’t get me started on Ashton Kutcher. I’m still amazed he made it through the Demi cheating scandal as well as he did.
Anna: But I feel like the other problem with Aronsohn’s first point is like, no one thinks those shows are that amazing. Two mediocre shows does not equal, “Enough, women go away now.”
Amy: I know!! Have you watched them?
Anna: Sigh, no — I just read Emily Nussbaum’s review of “Whitney” and decided to not watch ever, which is maybe not fair.
Amy: I haven’t watched “Whitney,” but I tried “Two Broke Girls” when I was home for some holiday, and it was just as offensive as everyone said it was. The hopeless Asian restaurant manager and all the “jokes” surrounding him, for one. Also:
IT WOULD NEVER BE TWO BROKE GUYS.
And in the beginning there was speculation about if they’d have some sort of lesbian hookup, which also would never happen in a show about two dudes who are friends. But I also wondered if the writers knew that would figure into the appeal of the show.
Anna: Right, totally.
Amy: And lastly, it’s not that funny. I was just like, “This is what’s popular?”
Anna: I mean, I guess baby steps. First you have sort of crappy women-authored shows, and then over time, good ones?
Except what stands in the way of that is some dude being like: okay two shows, we are done now.
And making gross comments like, “But we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.”
Amy: Clearly he doesn’t watch television.
Anna: Yeah I think we are at like 0.02% labia saturation.
Amy: If even that high.
Anna: I am counting the labia minora and majora of every female performer and writer. That is how i arrived at that scientific number
Amy: And “Girls” will up it sliiiiiiightly.
Anna: That is true.
Amy: But the anticipation for that show illustrates just how undermined and underrepresented women are on television. Just look at the excitement surrounding this one thing!
Anna: Right, also how you could have a show that is even called “Girls”? Because there have been so few shows about girls or women.
Amy: And the sad thing is it can’t avoid comparisons to “Sex and the City,” even if “SATC” is only invoked in relation to “Girls” to say that girls is the anti-“SATC.”
Anna: Right — everything with women is condemned to be “the anti-SATC” or “the next SATC” forever
Amy: And that show went off the air in 2004. And how horrible was the latest movie??
Anna: And it defines the entire sector of women on TV just because there are so few other models.
And then there’s this: “We’re centering the show on two very damaged men. What makes men damaged? Sorry, it’s women. I never got my heart broken by a man,”
(it is sad!)
Amy: Oh yeah, that’s just ridiculous.
If it hasn’t happened to him, it hasn’t happened to anybody. Much less, oh yeah, gay men.
Anna: Right. Also like, your heart gets broken by the people you love, duh.
And also, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people in this world (and on TV) who are assholes, without anybody making them that way, men and women both.
Amy: I also don’t see how that’s an excuse for portraying women as bimbos on “Two and a Half Men.”
Amy: Like, we break men’s hearts so we must look like bimbos on TV? I don’t get it. If anything, a woman with enough emotional depth to break someone’s heart wouldn’t be a bimbo, I’d imagine
Anna: That is the penalty! Sorry!
It was in the “never break up with anyone” memo you got it when you were 13 and got your period.
Anna: Which is all women ever talk about
Amy: I know. Like, have you read BuzzFeed Shift today? I’m pretty sure all we posted about were vaginas and periods.
I’m pretty sure that’s all we tweet about, too. That’s the only thing we have going on, really.
Anna: I am calling a period expert right now for a story.
Amy: Why did we call it Shift, you know?
We could have even just called it BUZZFEED PERIODS.
FOR WOMEN! PERIODS PERIODS! A NEW KIND OF PERIODIC TABLE! Etc.
Anna: The sad thing is periodsperiodsperiods probably is all you hear if you are not paying attention at all to anything women say.
Amy: Right. We have to knit reproductive organs to get attention.
Anna: Also: I feel like period jokes are the female response to stupid, lowest common denominator humor that permeates TV sitcoms anyway, which is totally the fault of the folks behind “Two and a Half Men” and like every other sitcom. The period joke is the female fart-joke.
Amy: But I would argue that I don’t think period jokes are as common. Because women are supposed to be ashamed by their periods!!! Remember?
Anna: That is true.
Amy: A lot of men don’t think they should be ashamed by their farts. They think farts were made for comic fodder.
Anna: Totally. One of the few things I like about Chelsea Handler is how she will make jokes about women pooping, which is also an acknowledgment that women poop and that it is okay to talk about it.
Amy: I actually really enjoy Chelsea. I think she’s funny, and I don’t recall any of her funniest moments (well of her work that I’ve seen) being about periods. Or even necessarily being a woman.
Same goes for Tina Fey.
Anna: I usually don’t find Chelsea funny, but I do like Tina Fey and agree that she is rarely period-related.
I mean bodily function humor can be funny, but I guess to say that women’s humor must be all about periods just betrays this notion that bodily-function humor is ALL THERE IS.
Amy: Oh I know.
I (and probably plenty of other women) don’t even like bodily function humor, for the most part.
Well, unless it’s about “cleansing” or some stupid diet. Then I’m much more likely to find it uproarious.
Amy: Plenty of us have a more expansive sense of humor and want more from our TV writers.
Anna: I actually think men might want more, too. But they have been raised on a steady diet of farts and know no different.
Amy: A lot of men I know are perfectly happy with fart jokes, which is not to say they don’t also enjoy Tina Fey’s Palin impression!
Anna: Right, it should not be the ONLY thing.
Amy: So anyway, I guess we should go back to crying over our keyboards and writing about periods.
Anna Basically. Those are the two only things I know how to do.
Oh that and SHOES.
Amy: Oh I don’t even know how to do shoes anymore.
Anna: What kind of a woman are you?
Amy: I find it’s just shiny things — I see shiny things and I spend money.
It might not even be ON the shiny thing
See, Anna, everything I know, I learned from my cat.
Anna: That is the dark secret of female writing
Dear Lee Aronsohn: it’s not our vaginas that dictate our opinions, it’s our cats.