Earlier this year, Adult Swim revealed their upcoming slate of TV projects, and out of the 47 creators listed on the announcement, there wasn’t a single woman in the bunch. Buzzfeed recently spoke with several women who have worked at Adult Swim for a new article titled “Adult Swim Could Do Better By Women,” and thanks to a claim made by one of the employees, we finally have (somewhat of) a response from Adult Swim EVP/creative director Mike Lazzo about why the network has such a poor track record of hiring female creatives. Here’s the claim the anonymous employee made to Buzzfeed:
One source placed much of the blame for Adult Swim’s lack of female creatives on Lazzo. The person recalled that, for example, during a meeting of Adult Swim and Cartoon Network employees in 2011, the network head was asked if any shows with female comedians were in the works; one source’s recollection of Lazzo’s response was when you have women in the writers room, you don’t get comedy, you get conflict. The source recalled Lazzo apologizing to women in the office the next day, but noted that it felt as though the damage was already done: “You can’t take that back, and he didn’t really even try.”
What I actually said was-women don’t tend to like conflict, comedy often comes from conflict, so that’s probably why we (or others) have so few female projects. Nonetheless this was a dumb answer to a good question as Lucille Ball and Gilda Rather to Amy Poelher and Amy Schumer prove my statement a load of generalized nonsense. I have always been very accessible to every person at work because I personally benefited from working at a company that allowed anyone, from any position, to pitch an idea-as long as the person was prepared to back up their ambition by doing any work required to justify the time or expense. If unnamed sources want to complain, complain about me after I’ve read the script you asked me to read or tossed you out of my office for pitching something I didn’t like. If you did come to me I bet I offered some decent suggestions on how to accomplish whatever you wanted to do. I do sometimes yell and I’m not proud of it. (Inherited.)
It’s nice to see Lazzo acknowledge that his assumptions were “a load of generalized nonsense,” but it’s that line of thinking that led to Adult Swim’s embarrassingly low number of female creators in the first place. As Buzzfeed points out, only 1 out of every 34 credits at Adult Swim go to women, and compared with this year’s overall average in TV – 1 out of 5 – it’s clear that Adult Swim still has a lot of catching up to do. Fingers crossed that Lazzo makes up for years of flimsy assumptions about women by finally ordering a show created by one.