Beloved TV Shows With WTF Sexist Backstage Drama
Every major production has, at some point, had some backstage beef going on. It's just the way of things. There are some productions, however, where the backstage fighting wasn't borne out of everyday stress, but something a whole lot worse ...
The X-Files Constantly Dumped on Gillian Anderson
The X-Files' Mulder and Scully are an iconic pop culture double act along the lines of Han Solo and Chewbacca, Batman and Robin, and James Bond and Syphilis. The duo even got a song/music video that, when played during a lighting strike, will actually teleport you back to the summer of 1997.
The only problem, however, is that while this partnership meant everything to the show's success, it didn't mean dick to the folks at Fox. Over the years, Gillian Anderson has talked openly about how the studio didn't just pay her less money than David Duchovny, but also mandated that whenever she appeared on-screen with Duchovny, she wasn't allowed to walk alongside him -- and instead had to stay several feet behind him at all times like a loyal dog. "I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick," says Anderson. "Or that, somehow, maybe it was enough to see a woman having this kind of intellectual repartee with a man on camera, and surely the audience couldn't deal with actually seeing them walk side by side."
After three years of this bullshit, Anderson got tired of accepting less than "equal pay for equal work" and successfully demanded to be paid the same as her male co-star. As for the whole "walking behind" thing ... she just stopped. No one ever seemed to notice -- or if they did, they weren't brave enough to point it out.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. After it was announced that the show was being revived for 2016, the studio offered Anderson only half of what they were offering Duchovny, so she told them to shove it. They caved.
The Emmys Allegedly Told Mindy Kaling to GTFO After The Office Was Nominated for an Award
Even if you only know The Office from the numerous best-of compilations on YouTube or, failing that, the endless memes and GIFs, you'll know that it's undoubtedly one of the funniest shows ever made. This makes sense considering that one of its writers is Mindy Kaling, who not only gave us some of the show's best episodes but did so while also starring in the show as an adorable psychopath.
Except when The Office got an Emmy nom for "Outstanding Comedy Series," the Academy reportedly informed Kaling that because the show had too many producers, she would be cut unless she could justify her place on-stage. As Kaling described in an interview with Elle: "They made me, not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer. I had to get letters from all the other producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself."
After this story broke, the Academy responded by saying that "every [...] producer was asked to justify their producer credits" and that "no one person was singled out." Kaling disagreed.
The Affair Kept Forcing Ruth Wilson to Go Nude
The Showtime show The Affair exists in the Ray Donovan-like void of "Yeah ... I-- I think my parents watched it?" So here's something to catch you up:
One of the things not really shown in the trailer is that co-lead Ruth Wilson gets naked. A lot. In 2018, Wilson left the show due to (according to show insiders) a "hostile work environment" in which Wilson was labeled "difficult" by the show's production staff for continually refusing to get nude for scenes that she felt didn't require her to be nude -- basically, scenes that contained nudity not for plot purposes, but for the sake of pure titillation (and bumillation).
This wasn't just restricted to Wilson, either. According to these same insiders -- who were interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter -- the show's showrunner, Sarah Treem, would often pressure actors into disrobing, "Even if they were uncomfortable or not contractually obligated to," by lavishing them with praise and/or complaining about how they were holding up production. "It's things you would think would be coming out of a man's mouth from the 1950s," said one source. "The environment was very toxic."
While sex scenes were being filmed, staff would sometimes forget to clear the set of people who didn't need to be there -- which is common practice -- resulting in actors unknowingly showing off their everything to random strangers. The production was also sued in 2017 by Wilson's body double, Ashlynn Alexander, after she was fired from the show for complaining about a casting sheet that described her as "sexytime double."
Wilson's break from the show came about after one of the show's directors, Jeffrey Reiner, was accused of sexual misconduct -- a situation which Wilson parlayed into an early exit from her contract. In retaliation, however, say those insiders, Reimer responded by writing a finale episode for Wilson that ended with her character being sexually assaulted and then for good measure, murdered. This script was rejected, and although the finale still had Wilson getting murdered, at least she wasn't raped beforehand -- which we guess is a win.
Friends Was Sued Because Its Writers Room Was Too "Sexually Aggressive"
By the time Friends ended its ten-year run, it had wrung jokes out of sexual assault, homophobia, transphobia, child molestation, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, date rape, mental illness, the world's most toxic relationship, and we guess, whatever psychosexual issue makes you bang your childhood pediatrician. It was basically like watching a lamer bougie version of It's Always Sunny In Philidelphia that lacked Always Sunny's self-awareness
And before anyone says something, this isn't just our modern-day snowflakiness shining through. The show actually got sued back in 2002 by an ex-writing assistant, Amaani Lyle -- who alleged sexual harassment because the show's writing room was basically Twitter, minus all the Nazis.
In her suit, Lyle alleged that the show's writers -- most of whom were male -- frequently made "racist, sexist, and obscene" comments in the course of writing the show, which included discussing their sexual fantasies, referring to women as 'p****s' and 'c***s,' workshopping an episode where Joey rapes Rachel in the shower, and calling out Courtney Cox for having "dried branches in her vagina" and for being so weak, she'd "break in two" if she ever had sex.
After two years, the suit was quashed at trial on the grounds that Lyle couldn't have been sexually harassed because the remarks weren't aimed at her. The most illuminating part of this ordeal, however, was that the writers didn't deny any of their remarks -- and instead argued that being sexist edgelords was a necessary part of their creative process, a fiction better than anything they put on our screens.
Now, if you'll excuse us, we need to go throw a sack of kittens off a bridge. Y'know, for the creative process.
Top image: NBCUniversal, Warner Bros.