Dear USA Network,
For a while it was fun being part of the twitter fan base that is hashtagging for a season two of the criminally under appreciated Playing House. But now I'm just mad. Along with all the other #jammers, I am straight up ready to break a vintage cake stand mad! (If you watched the show, USA Network, that cake stand joke would be hilarious to you.)
I of course realize that Playing House's season one ratings were not groundbreaking but I blame you, USA. I'm a comedy fan and a UCB student and I only knew about the show because of a podcast. Where were the busses? Where were the billboards? Where was any advertising! Do you know what other show had a low season one rating? A little show you may have heard of called Breaking Bad.
The biggest issue I have with critiques of the show is that Playing House is referred to as a "female comedy" or "comedy for females". Both terms I find infuriating since I've never heard a critic say that Mad Men and Breaking Bad are "dramas for males." Females grow up expecting to sympathize with male characters - Tony Soprano, Don Draper, and Walter White, male anti-heros that we all love to hate have topped the leader board for the last decade. Wake up USA! The times are changing. Females are more then capable of staring in a show. And as Shonda Rhymes has so wonderfully brought to light, when men watch shows with females leads they don't run away in fear -- they watch it! Playing House is not for a niche audience of intelligent females. Playing House is for anyone who likes good comedy.
It's also one of the only comedic shows on TV that passes the Bechdel test, and it passes with flying colors. USA Network, if you don't know what the Bechdel test is please allow me to break it down for you. The Bechdel test, created by MacArthur Foundation 'genius' grant winner Alison Bechdel, judges pieces of fiction based on two simple principles: 1) are there at least two named women in it who talk to each other and 2) do those two women talk to each other about something besides men. New Girl and The Mindy Project, arguably the two most famous female staring comedies on television, just premiered the first episode of their fourth and third season, respectively. Just to be clear, I'm a huge fan of both shows but neither of the episodes passed the test. I know there are other flaws with the Bechdel test; Gravity famously does not pass, but for the most part it's a great start for evaluating gender bias for women in film and television. Yet, every single episode of Playing House passes! Do you know how nice it is to watch a show about two funny women talking about literally anything else besides a man? Do you USA Network, cause I'm getting the feeling you don't!
Jessica St Clair (Emma) and Lennon Parham (Maggie), the stars and creators of the show, are not only the best friends you want to watch but also the best friends you want to have. Let us not forget about the incredible supporting cast lead by Keegan-Michael Key (of Key & Peele fame) and Zach Woods (The Office, Silicon Valley.) In the second episode titled Birdbones, Key refers to St Clair and Parham's characters by saying, "You're nice when you're on your own ... but when you two get together all hell breaks loose." It's really just a perfect analogy for the whole show. Besides the fact that that quote describes every pair of best friends in the entire world, it's also what happens when you combine the comedic genius of St Clair, Parham, Key and Woods. Let me clarify by saying that all hell breaks loose in the best possible way. All four friendships seamlessly transition from real life to the screen. It's a crew you desperately want to be a part of.
USA Network, I'm trying to be on your side since you were the ones who took a chance on Playing House in the first place, but it's as if you don't understand the magic of what you now have. Please understand the mistake you're in jeopardy of making. Playing House may be the nerdy girl at prom right now but she's about to take off her glasses and you're about to see that she was perfect all along. And when that happens you're going to feel like an idiot for not realizing it! St Clair and Parham aren't going away. They'll make anther show, or a movie, and they'll get bigger and bigger and you'll be sending them late night texts and crying over the girl(s) you once had. As Emma (St Clair) says in my favorite episode, Drumline, "Cause sisters by the way are doing it for themselves!"
USA Network, don't be that guy.
A passionate #jammer, Dana Elle Salzberg