Backlight: Your Movie and TV News Roundup

Content warning: sexual abuse

This week in film and TV was a bit of a rollercoaster. We’ve seen a flurry of activity around projects led by female creators and creators of colour, but we’ve also had some disheartening news about the state of discrimination and abuse within the industry. Remember to support your favourite creators and help to foster an inclusive, safe creative industry.

Netflix Signs Shonda Rhimes

This week, we heard the news that Shonda Rhimes has left Disney-owned ABC Studios for Netflix. This was fresh off the heels of Disney’s announcement that they want to set up their own streaming service (which means pulling all Disney-Marvel media off Netflix.) Shonda Rhimes is the showrunner for popular TV series like Grey’s Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder, and Scandal.

Netflix’s streaming service offers many creators greater scope for creativity when compared to the traditional restrictions of broadcast television, which might be part of the appeal for Rhimes.

Writers’ Rooms Need More Inclusion

Rhimes is a successful woman of colour in television – and according to two stories this week, that’s still rare. Mimi Pond, who wrote the very first The Simpsons episode, told Jezebel that she was kept out of the writers’ room because she was a woman. With only 8% of all aired Simpsons episodes crediting female writers, it’s hardly shocking to find out this week too that Rick and Morty – now in its third season – has only just hired women writers. Still, with a 50% female writers’ room at Rick and Morty, this suggests some improvement for women (and women of colour) writing for television.

Third Woman Steps Forward to Claim Sexual Abuse by Roman Polanski

In the ongoing hellscape surrounding claims of sexual abuse of minors by Roman Polanski, a third woman has stepped forward. “Robin M.” accused Polanski of “sexually victimising” her when she was 16 years old though no further details were provided in her statement. Polanski has been facing charges of sexual abuse since 1977, and this news is a sobering reminder of the way the film industry continues to approach and respond to allegations of abuse.

Cool Projects From Cool People

This week saw lots of news and updates on projects created by awesome, diverse creators, like Spike Lee who’s developing a new project about tech entrepreneur Chad Sanders. The show has been pitched as a “dark comedy and sociological thriller” following a Mark Zuckerberg-esque black twenty-something and smartphone app genius.

Meanwhile, bisexual wonder Anna Paquin is starring in a queer period romance alongside Holliday Grainger. They play two women drawn to each other in 1950s Britain, where their attraction must be kept a secret. Queer period dramas allow queer folk to see ourselves in a history that frequently erases or demonises us. Speaking of, St. Vincent is directing a new, gender-bent version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, a story originally laden with queer subtext. A female Dorian Gray could mean more queer women on the big screen – or it could take away from the subversiveness of the original.

The film industry frequently pushes out marginalised voices so the Full Frame festival is addressing racism in documentary film-making through a series of talks and, importantly, practical solutions to the problem. In the meantime, self-produced media like webseries can get marginalised voices heard – and The North Pole is shouting loud and clear about gentrification and climate change. The trailer is hilarious and links these two issues together in a thoughtful preview of life in Oakland.


Zainabb Hull

Zainabb Hull

Feminist trash bag. Screams about screens. Lots of feelings.