Lady Problems is a weekly column that looks at how the entertainment industry — and its corresponding culture and constituents — is treating women in a given week. (Hint: It will almost always be “poorly.”) Every Thursday we’ll review the week’s most significant woman-centric conflicts, then provide a brilliant solution to each problem that nobody in Hollywood will ever listen to or enforce.
The Lady Problem: Late last week, Live! With Kelly and Michael cohost Michael Strahan destroyed your grandparents' lives by announcing that he'd be leaving the show for Good Morning America. Nobody told Kelly Ripa until 20 minutes beforehand. As any human person would be, Ripa was blindsided and stunned and offended; remember, this is a woman who's held the same job for almost 20 years, and she was entirely shut out of a major decision about the show's direction. Ripa took a "previously scheduled vacation" to get her head straight and figure out how to respond (and her eventual response was classy as hell). Naturally, the media took the opportunity to be sexist dicks, with the New York Post comparing her to the Wicked Witch of the West, The Wrap calling her behavior "a diva-like fit of pique," and "insiders" telling the New York Daily News that she was acting like a "diva" and a "child." As The Cut put it, "Ripa committed the cardinal sin of ‘being angry while female,' a misstep that puts perpetrators at risk of being called shrill, bitchy, crazy, high-maintenance, ruthless, ambitious (if you're running for president), or, yes, a diva." Meanwhile, Strahan ditched out on a charity event he was supposed to host, and everyone was deeply chill about the whole thing. Meanwhile meanwhile, Chris Harrison remains employed.
The Solution: Football is very boring. Maybe the second most boring thing in the world, just after baseball and just before listening to someone talk about their home remodel. Clearly Michael Strahan agrees, as he stopped playing it. As penance for messing with Kelly Ripa's mind, Michael Strahan will be forced to return to the football field for two weeks. What he does there is his business. (It should probably be football though, because what else is there to do on a football field?) Meanwhile, Kelly Ripa will not find a replacement for Michael Strahan, but rather go on to host the show by herself, because fuck cohosts when you are already Kelly Ripa. Elsewhere, Chris Harrison will build himself a castle made of his own spare teeth.
The Lady Problem: According to a tally conducted by The Wrap, 20th Century Fox and Paramount have zero films on the docket with female directors through 2018. ZERO. (This is not counting Fox Searchlight, the studio’s arty-artface division.) (Also, a disclosure: Paramount and MTV are both owned by Viacom.) Writes The Wrap, "Representatives for Fox declined to comment; Paramount did not respond to repeated requests from The Wrap. Neither studio disputed the statistics." Another fun fact: Aside from Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni’s Kung Fu Panda 3, Fox has not released a single movie with a female director since Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum’s Ramona and Beezus in 2010. A few are in development, including Love Letters to the Dead with Catherine Hardwicke and Lumberjanes with Some Female Person, but as The Wrap puts it, "those projects remain in development and could technically disappear tomorrow."
The Solution: The Wrap makes an important point about the fragility of life and the gossamer line between not disappearing and disappearing. Really, anything could technically disappear tomorrow. Like, say, 20th Century Fox and Paramount. So I am going to kidnap both of these studios (just the buildings and the equipment and the very senior main people) under cover of darkness. In the morning, Catherine Hardwicke, Ramona, Beezus, and I will release them under one condition: They will give at least half their upcoming slate to women directors, and they will give us all cake. If they won't, we'll force them to operate from within Chris Harrison's tooth castle. Their only props: teeth. Their only actors: teeth. Their only scripts: teeth ground into a powder and turned into a sort of paper-like substance, which are then fed into printers (made of teeth).
The Lady Problem: One of the unintended (?) by-products of Beyoncé's Lemonade drop was that the public latched desperately onto the line "you better call Becky with the good hair" and still has not let it go. If Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" is any indication, they may never let it go. We may be facing decades of Becky speculation. Our history books will tell of Becky. My colleagues Ira Madison III and Rebecca Thomas dug into the whole thing better than I ever could, explaining that, essentially, "Becky" isn't a specific person but a catchall name for basic white women, and the "good hair" remark is, as Rebecca writes, "nodding to [black women's] historical baggage and signifying far more than just a girl with a bouncy blowout." The Internet, the gaping maw of which is ever slavering for women to consume whole, does not care for this explanation. Neither does the Beyhive: millions of self-appointed Beyoncé Justice Warriors who've spent the past week digitally flaying women who've, admittedly, stirred the pot by hinting that they might be Becky — Rachel Roy; Rita Ora — and, accidentally, a completely unrelated but famous white woman who has done nothing but stir literal pots for years and years. (I thought I was myself part of the Beyhive but I missed this memo so I guess I am not.) Poor Rachael Ray. All she wants to do is put eggs on stuff! She hardly saw it coming, those thousands of bee and lemon emojis besmirching her Instagrams of toast.
The Solution: Though I know I'm going to be executed by millions of digital bees the moment I post this, I'd like to suggest that the Beyhive take a day off. Perhaps they should take a page from Kelly Ripa's book and go on a lil' vacation. Anyway, now I am dead. Bye.
The Lady Problem: Chrissy Teigen grew a human life inside of her body for nine months. During those nine months, she was not able to eat sushi, or drink alcohol, or go outdoors without inviting commentary on her baby bump, or hang out with me. (Chrissy, I'm free whenever!) About a week after concluding this process and giving birth to a daughter, Chrissy went out to dinner with her husband and left her daughter at home. If you look at the "feedback" she received for this decision, you would think she had murdered her newborn daughter and then eaten said daughter for dinner with her husband.
The Solution: Fortunately, Chrissy Teigen is a savagely witty woman who gives few fucks, and she has already taken her followers to task.
But there's more to be done, by God! And we will do it here at Lady Problems. Confusingly, almost all of these commenters appear to be women — specifically women who have also had babies. You'd think they'd remember that having a baby sucks intensely, and that afterward one deserves to go out for a drink in public with one's husband (and eat said baby). I suppose it's possible that they've already forgotten how much having a baby sucks? Or that they're all men in disguise (a confusing long game, to be sure)? In the latter case, as I've been saying for six decades even though I've only been alive for about three: Make men have the babies. Once they understand how fucking annoying the whole thing is, they'll calm down about this type of shit. Also, can you imagine how cute John Legend would look pregnant?