Is Jill Soloway the New Savior of Small Screen Offerings?

By  · Published on February 3rd, 2015


Back in 2013, filmmaker Jill Soloway premiered her feature debut, Afternoon Delight, at the Sundance Film Festival. Although I didn’t personally didn’t take to the material, Soloway’s frank and honest depiction of female sexuality (the film centers on an unsatisfied housewife, played by Kathryn Hahn, who decides to employ a former stripper, played by Juno Temple, as her nanny/friend) has grown on me, and it’s something that has become a hallmark of her steadily evolving work. (Tangentially, Soloway’s casting is aces – although I didn’t like Afternoon Delight, Soloway did cast two women that I wanted to see on the big screen in big, layered leading lady roles, and that’s a skill that cannot be overlooked or undersold.)

Soloway recently broke a heck of a lot of boundaries with her beloved (and award-winning) Amazon series, Transparent, which similarly focuses on issues of sexuality and honesty (with, yup, another great cast). Now the creator is looking at another network – MTV, for the kids! – for yet another show that just might mix up the small screen landscape in fresh news ways.

The Hollywood Reporter shares that Soloway will next executive produce a new MTV comedy alongside Upright Citizens Brigade alums Ashley Skidmore and Lyle Friedman, who will both write the series and executive produce it. Skidmore and Friedman are known for creating the web series #HotMessMoves, and the duo currently serve as staff writers on Darren Starr’s series Younger.

The currently “untitled comedy centers on two young girls who meet at summer camp and bond over their passion for second-wave feminism. During a wild night in the forest, both girls are struck by lightning and their friendship, power and destiny is fatefully sealed. Now, 10 years later, they romp around town hell-bent on saving all of womankind – if only they could save themselves first.” MTV, often mocked for its lack of actual music television, has steadily built up its original comedy coffers with female-centric offerings like Awkward and Faking It, so this new show sounds like both a progression and an obvious fit for the network.

However, it’s been somewhat disheartening to see Soloway’s new series touted in the press as a “feminist comedy.” Although the show will undoubtedly be very feminist in nature – after all, the first big fact we know about its lead characters is that they are hardcore feminists – that the series needs to be trumped up as such is indicative of how far we still have to go with this old equality thing. Of course we want more “feminist” offerings, but that they need to be labeled as being, well, “feminist offerings” is upsetting. Why can’t it just be “awesome show”?

In any case, that Soloway is expanding her repertoire out into the cable world – wait, can a network show be far behind? probably yes, but isn’t it nice to dream? – and still doing it with her trademark considerations (women, feminism, equality, humor) is nothing but good news. That MTV will be the receiver of such a solid match-up of talents – Soloway aligned with upstarts like Skidemore and Friedman – is even better news. Soloway might have to make more than two television series to really save the entire genre, but she’s well on her way.

Now to rewatch and reconsider Afternoon Delight…