'Bunheads' Creator Could Learn a Thing or Two from Shonda Rhimes<br />
(But She Probably Won't)

Amy Sherman-Palladino and Shonda Rhimes

How does one argue solidarity by sardonically slamming the concerns of her sister? 

That is, if you actually believe Bunheads creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her employing the “woman shouldn’t attack other women” argument to defend herself from criticism by fellow female showrunner Shonda Rhimes about the lack of diversity of her new ABC Family series.

Last week, Rhimes took to Twitter to comment on the show’s casting choices, writing, “Hey @abcfbunheads: really? You couldn’t cast even ONE young dancer of color so I could feel good about my kid watching this show? NOT ONE?”

The Gilmore Girls creator was asked what she thought of Shonda’s remarks on the Internet talk show Media Mayhem. Amy said: “Look, I’m not going to get into a pissing match with Shonda Rhimes, because she has 15,000 shows on the air, and she’s doing just fine for herself.” She continued: “I’ve always felt that women, in a general sense, have never supported other women the way they should…I think it’s a shame, but to me, it is what it is.”

The shame seems to be immediately assuming one complaint equal a “pissing match.” Nevertheless, the writer-producer-director added, “I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go after another woman. I, frankly, wouldn’t go after another showrunner.”

Sherman-Palladino never addressed the racial issue head on, but did explained: "I don't do message shows. I don't give a shit who you learn your life from." For the record, she also doesn’t give a "flying fuck" about eating disorders either.

Allison Hope Weiner, who hosts the show, set the tone for these comments, prefacing her questions on the premise that Shonda was clearly in the wrong for publicly criticizing another woman in show business. Both she and Amy’s attitude harkens back to a familiar problem within the feminist movement where women of color are told by their white counterparts that their concerns should take a back seat for the greater good – which usually benefits them more than others. It’s an issue other minority groups find themselves in at times as well.

That sentiment always reads as mighty white and especially disingenuous.

If Amy Sherman-Palladino were that concerned about sisterhood, she wouldn’t be so dismissive of Shonda’s constructive criticism. Moreover, if she and Weiner were so pro-woman they wouldn’t perpetuate the belief that women can’t criticize other women solely on the basis of gender solidarity. The same goes for other minorities.

She could’ve handled this far better than she did. She could’ve made the controversial but sometimes legitimate point that not every show necessarily requires diversity. But don’t hide behind excuses like, "I had to find four girls who could dance on point, and also act, and they give you, like, a week and a half to do it. That's how pilots go."

This is an excuse that White show runners – male and female alike – make when asked about the lack of diversity in their shows. Maybe they are sparse, but there are Black ballerinas, so it’s not an issue of time so much as it is choice. A choice to blatantly pretend the world is as lily white as they imagine it to be.

Given the ever-increasingly diverse nation we’re becoming, Shonda Rhimes isn’t a woman basher for requesting a spec of color for her child to see. That’s arguably a rather helpful tip offered. Surely Amy Sherman-Palladino faces challenges as a female, but for her to see Shonda’s note as an attempt to make Bunheads a “message show” and a “pissing match,” well, that just goes to show how much harder it still is to be a multiple minority. 

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick