Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

CNN has an interesting article about the sexual harassment suit filed against a bunch of writers for NBC's "Friends" by a former writers' assistant. The complaint, which you can read here at the Smoking Gun website, talks about how the writers would discuss "[Courteney] Cox's fertility and love life, [David] Schwimmer's sexual preference... [and] how several writers spoke of their secret desire to turn the character Joey (played by Matt LeBlanc) into a serial rapist, discussing 'full scenes of how he would rape the women.' "

The argument being made by the attorneys for the writers is apparently that "the conduct was justified by 'creative necessity' " and that these stories were all part of the creative process in the TV writers' room. "Context" is key, say the attorneys. The CNN article, written by Hofstra Law Professor Joanna Grossman, says that context is often considered in these types of cases, and is "what differentiates a coach's slapping a football player on the behind after a game, from his doing the same thing to his secretary back at the office" but wonders if there really would be any need in the writers room to talk about what they'd like to do to Jennifer Aniston, complete with diagrams and demonstrated motions.

To me, it's hard to conceive of a television writers room as a normal workplace with normal rules about what ought and ought not be said, but I guess it is a workplace, and this stuff does matter. I guess, despite thinking that the writers' conduct was probably inappropriate, I don't have much sympathy for the writers assistant suing over it. What damage could it have really done, and why not just quit and get a different job if she didn't like it? There are people who would have killed for her job -- and... I don't know... I know the right answer is what they did was stupid and inappropriate and no one should have to work in an environment like that, and it's bad and they should be punished. And I believe that, really I do... but did they *really* do anything so terrible? Haven't we all drawn lewd pictures of Jennifer Aniston...?