meWednesday morning, when I was trying to decide whether to do a Yoga video with Adrienne or eat the leftover whipped cream, my mother called me to break the news. “Emily in Paris just got nominated for a Golden Globe!” she said.
“What? For which category? I said. I’m a writer on the show. I tried to avoid reading their reviews, but I don’t live under a rock. It never occurred to me that our show would be nominated.
“For the best,” my mom said. We haven’t hugged since 2019. She receives her second shot in two weeks. Maybe the first one messed with his head.
“Best comedy series? Are you sure? ”I drink a dollop of whipped cream.
“Yes, Deb, I’m sure. I’m watching it on TV right now. “
“Hey. Weird. “I googled it twice to be sure.
Like Emily, I am a former American expat living in Paris (as photojournalist 1988 to 1992), as well as a former pharmaceutical brand marketer – a job I took after being sexually harassed outside of my journalism job (for a man Trump alone forgiven, but I digress) when I was a single mother trying to send two children to college. Emily’s vaginal ring brand manifesto? Cut and paste from the one I wrote for my marketing work. “Is the vagina not male?That also occurred to me. As for Emily’s many missteps? Let’s say that during my first month in Paris, when I was a 22-year-old naive dining with my photojournalism colleagues and one of them asked me if I wanted more food, I replied: “No thanks. I’m full.“Which does not mean,” No, thank you, I’m full, “but rather,” No, thank you. I’m pregnant.”
Did I take criticism of the show personally? Of course. Who would not? But neither. Emily in Paris aired a few months after I spent June and July marching for racial justice through the streets of New York with my children. I could definitely see how a show about a white American selling fancy whiteness, in pre-pandemic Paris, free of its vibrant African and Muslim communities, could rile me. Our show also aired shortly after reading Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and Devouring I May Destroy You by Michaela Coel, a play of pure genius about the aftermath of rape. “That show,” I told everyone who listened, “deserves to win all the awards.”
When it didn’t, I was stunned. I May Destroy You wasn’t just my favorite show of 2020. It’s my favorite show. It takes the complicated subject of a rape: I am a sexual assault survivor myself, and it infuses it with heart, humor, pathos, and a story so well constructed that I had to watch it twice, just to understand how Coel did it.
Now, am I excited that Emily in Paris was nominated? Yes. Of course. I’ve never been anywhere near seeing a Golden Globe statue up close, let alone being nominated for one. But that emotion now is sadly tempered by my anger at Coel’s snub. That I May Destroy You didn’t get a Golden Globe nod is not only wrong, it’s wrong with everything.
Take my friend Deb Dugan, the first female president and CEO of the Recording Academy. She was hired to deal with, among other things, bribery, corruption, sexism and the current #grammyssowhite issue. When Deb started doing that, when she actually started trying to clean the house at the Recording Academy and had to submit her own report of sexual harassment as she did so, she was fired.
Take all the Hollywood writers’ rooms. A Color of Change 2017 Report found that 91% of showrunners are white and 80% are male.
Take the recent headlines. That a white woman who broke into the Capitol was given permission go on vacation to Mexico while a nine-year-old black girl was pepper-sprayed by the police, for the crime of asking about her father: “You’re behaving like a girl!” the police told her, to which she replied, “I’m a girl!” It tells her everything she needs to know about systemic racism in America.
But my anger is not just about race. Or even about racial representation in art. Yes, we need art that reflects all of our colors, not just some. But we also have to reward the shows (and music and movies and plays and musicals) that deserve them, regardless of the skin color of their creators. Hamilton is cool because Lin-Manuel Miranda is Puerto Rican? No. It’s great because it hits. In the same way, how anyone can see I May Destroy You and not call it a brilliant work of art or Michaela Coel a genius is beyond my ability to understand how these decisions are made.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism