Jill Soloway’s ‘I Love Dick’ Brings the ‘Female Gaze’ to Emmy Voters

I Love Dick Amazon Premiere
Courtesy of Amazon

“Transparent” creator Jill Soloway has referred to her latest Amazon series “I Love Dick” as “a tool of the Matriarchal Revolution.” At an Emmy event and screening of the first two episodes Wednesday night in Hollywood, she and other principals on the show spoke further to that over-arching theme.

“Some people think of this book as the invention of the female gaze in literature,” Soloway said of feminist author Chris Kraus’ novel, on which the show is based.

The comedy, premiering May 12, stars Kathryn Hahn as a version of Kraus, a New York filmmaker who travels to Marfa, Texas with her academic husband (Griffin Dunne) for an artist’s residency, only to be tractor-beamed into the charismatic, enigmatic orbit of local art instructor and cowboy sprite Dick (Kevin Bacon).

It’s source material that allows for some interesting dissection of the female artist experience. At one point in the second episode, Hahn’s character even slags off on female directors like Sofia Coppola, taking particularly hilarious aim at her highlights.

“I think as recently as five years ago I was seething at people like Sofia Coppola and Lena Dunham,” Soloway confessed. “It’s because it feels like there are not enough spots. It feels like there only gets to be one at a time. There’s Sofia Coppola, then there’s Miranda July, then there’s Lena Dunham — all these people, I would never say anything horrible about them, but I’ve felt that feeling of, ‘Why them and not me?'”

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She continued: “I think that happens either for women or for queer people or people of color. If you’re a straight white man, it’s kind of assumed that there’s work for you out there. And everybody else, we’re sort of reaching for our moments. And then yeah, you see somebody else get it, you can’t help but go, ‘That’s my moment that person got.'”

Co-creator Sarah Gubbins said Kraus’ book was exciting for a prospective adaptation because “there’s nothing else like it. It’s so ferocious and honest and you can’t look away from the way in which it’s narrated by a woman who is coming into her own. The journey she has to take to do that is not a pretty one, but it allows the audience to want to be a part of it and root for her.”

It was a bit like Richard Dreyfus in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for Hahn. “She just sees that mountain and she has to keep making it and making it and trying to define it,” the actress said. “There is something about trying to define what that all-encompassing draw is.”

The creative approach to the show is bold and at times almost free-associative, totally singular in the television fray. That sense of something fresh, both on the page and in the making of it, is what attracted self-professed “jaded” star Bacon to join up.

“It’s something I love but something that’s hard to do in this current film market, to be able to do something that feels truly experimental and weird and challenging and edgy and off-beat,” Bacon said. “To have a place to do that is amazing as an actor.”

Soloway and Gubbins assembled an all-female writers room for the show as well, a historic footnote in all of this. “A lot of them had been the only woman in the room [on other projects] and had tried to play the role of, ‘Be game. Be funny. Don’t offend. Be careful what you say,'” Soloway said. “So everyone got really loose really fast.”

Added Bacon: “Leave it to a female writers room to create two of the best, most well-rounded male characters that I’ve read in a long time. Both of these guys end up being definitely male and definitely complex and definitely interesting. The idea that somehow [women are] not going to be able to deliver that is astounding to me.”

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  1. gustafus21 says:

    This woman – me – is tired of the anti male tirades….if women can’t carry a film, it’s because men and other women won’t pay to see them. As to female directors, again, THIS WOMAN, a self employed boomer grandma…. has never experienced the kind of malevolent discrimination we hear about in these all too often screeds.

    I always wonder if it isn’t unhappy lesbians,,, railing about how unfair life is, how unfair cultural biases are, and how the rest of the world values beauty, and female ‘grace’ to the detriment of their twisted views on gender and value.

    Actually, I just hate Hollywood whining…. their bigotry and their choice of material. Moonlight? Are you kidding me? MOONLIGHT….. that says it all. yuck,…. and double yuck

  2. Is not of a conjunction and may not be followed by a clause.

  3. So interesting that the first three comments are negative and made by women. As a man, I am very interested in what these women writers have to say. I may find it funny, then again I may not. I may find it well written, then again, I may not. I will definitely give it a chance and if it’s engaging and well done, then I will applaud it and recommend it. I am not going to assign any value to it or the aims of the writers or the basic concept until I have viewed the result. This is what separates reasonable people from judgmental pea brains.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Personally I don’t try to demonstrate intelligence by insulting people I disagree with…

      But that’s just me.

      You, on the other hand insult people who’ve done nothing to you other than dare to disagree.

      It’s sad for you IMO. :(

      • gustafus21 says:

        I can’t remember the last time I even looked to see the gender of a writer when I watched something. I don’t have cable because TV shows are so dreadful. But I’m binge watching Suits because my son recommended the series to me….. and I am enjoying it….. who knows who wrote or directed any given episode.

        Ditto for Billions and Better Call Saul…. the ONLY items I consider worthy of my valuable time. This gender issue is an insiders game… in a world where Hollywood hates half the country… they need to figure out how to play to the entire audience and not just gender confused, urban losers and university brats….. I am sooo thrilled when I see the studios going bankrupt…. couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.

        Moonlight? …. really? MOONLIGHT?…. you all deserve the tank.

  4. Rena Moretti says:

    What a self-involved pea brain…

    She actually thinks every White male who wants work in Hollywood gets it…

    And she’s blissfully unaware of how things really work (the Friends and Family plan).

    Wow!!! No wonder bad shows abound.

    • squeesh says:

      Rena:

      Seriously? You do know that barely 2% of directors in Hollywood are women,right,and that they find it much harder to get the same kind of directing assignments that men do. That’s because since it’s dominated by white men, they can always take it for granted that they will automatically be employed by other men, which is usually the case, and has been for decades. Apparently, you didn’t know all that, or you wouldn’t have spewed that unnecessary and clueless diatribe.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        I’ll also repeat that she is part of the small cadre of “insiders” who get the gigs, so she has no cause to complain.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        First what Ms. Solloway said was that any White man who wants to work does in Holllywood. That is patently false and she should know it.

        That’s also what you said: “white men […] take for granted that they will automatically be employed.”

        It is entirely false.

        I am NOT saying there’s no prejudice in Hollywood.

        The most obvious is ageism as Hollywood is actually proud of being ageist.

        But that’s not what you and her said: you said all White men who wantto work get hired just because they’re White men.

        It’s patently false.

  5. Hilary says:

    This is the finest example of just how screwed-up hollywood is. to give these folks any money to promote their anti men pro queer and demeaning to men scripts is just a shame. this is what my kids are being exposed to…kevin bacon’s comments are suspect as he needs to kowtow to the “man” — or in this case to the gay woman. What a joke.

    • squeesh says:

      Rena:

      How is having an all female writer staff “sexist”? You do know it’s very rare for a TV show to have such a staff,right? Because they’re usually mostly male most of the time. And frankly, you sound ridiculous as hell whining about a program you haven’t even seen simply because it’s not from the white male perspective (like damn near 99% of everything else in the media) for a change. As a female viewer, I love seeing anything written, produced and made by women, especially if it’s well-made and really good. Also, the female character in moves and TV shows written by women tend to be a little realistic and complex and well-rounded than in moves/TV shows made by men where they tend to just be the one-dimensional hot girlfriend/wife/love interest/victim/crazy villain,etc. I’m not saying that men can’t write complex, mature and well-rounded women characters—I’ve seen the work of more directors and writers who can. But, frankly, it’s refreshing to see movies/TV shows made from a women’s perspective for a change.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        If it was a man boasting that he only hires male writers, would that not be sexist?

        When Brandon Tartikoff boasted the staff of Friends only had young writers, was that not ageist?

        Also I haven’t been commenting on the program yet, let alone “whine’ about it…

        I entirely disagree with you that women write better female characters, any more than men write better male characters.

        The idea that you can only write who you are is the antithesis of creativity and talent.

        To me it’s the quality that counts and Ms. Solloway hasn’t delivered in the past and her entitled, ivory tower attitude does not make me feel that will change.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Add to that the open “reverse” sexism of only hiring women just because…

      With such open prejudices, she is sure to get awards since she has the prejudices Hollywood loves to have (if she could have added “I only hired young writers” she’d get a special award…

      So depressingly pathetic to see those privileged people whine and showcase their prejudices…

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