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 overarching critical opinion regarding Sunday's Emmys were that they were “good” and “fun to watch” and “surprisingly not reminiscent of dying very, very slowly.” I personally thought the Emmys were “mostly fine,” partly because I was very distracted reading the tweets between Holland Taylor and Sarah Paulson and kvelling my face right off. I also thought they were only “mostly fine“ because — even though the show broke with Hollywood tradition by actually recognizing the work of women and people of color and LGBTQ people — the broadcast was also scattered with the sort of classic idiocy that we’ve all come to expect and yet continue to watch year after year, helplessly enslaved by tradition, eating a whole bag of tortilla chips even though we weren’t hungry and we didn’t have salsa so we just used old pesto.
Anyway, welcome to Lady Problems: Emmys Edition.
The Lady Problem: Giuliana Rancic, who, full disclosure, I have interviewed a few times and actually found to be quite pleasant and smart, always seems to be having some kind of cognitive dissonance–induced psychotic break on red carpets. I attribute this to the fact that she is too intelligent for the kinds of things that E! is making her do, i.e., offer tequila shots to a clearly horrified George Clooney or fumblingly mock the fashion choices of teenage girls (and end up sounding wildly racist). I know this is an unpopular opinion these days, but I feel for Giuliana Rancic, who I believe mostly does the best she can with what she’s given (nothing). By the end of an hours-long red carpet, girl always ends up looking like she is grasping onto the side of a sinking ship, and it’s like, just let go of the ship and find a better ship? Is that not how shipwrecks work?
All of this is to say that, even though I believe Giuliana is coming from a reasonably good place, whoever writes her E! cue cards should be fired straight into the sun. At the Emmys, Rancic asked dudes like Rami Malek about their performances, but asked multiple women, including new mom Ellie Kemper and the Earth’s mom Heidi Klum, how they — you already know, don’t you? — “balance it all.” This isn’t a bad question in and of itself, but to pose it to women exclusively is to (1) imply that fatherhood has no actual bearing on a man’s life and schedule and career and (2) hark back to the regressive and, frankly, boring conversation about whether or not women can “have it all.” Women can have it all, or they can’t, or they can have one thing and then lose it in a subway grate and then, years later, stumble upon it waiting for them on their doorstep and laugh and laugh and hug it tightly and never ask any questions about how it got back to their house.
The Solution: These sorts of bizarre questions inevitably stem from the confusing #askhermore movement (which we talk about in-depth on this week’s Lady Problems podcast with the inimitable Stacy London, so go listen to it, OK, bye!). But replacing an ostensibly inane and sexist question (“Who are you wearing?”) with another inane and sexist question isn’t “more,” it’s just “fucking stupid and annoying.” I also want to challenge the central notion of the #askhermore movement, which is that talking to a woman about fashion is innately sexist. This makes no sense! Fashion is cool and fascinating and multidimensional, and, moreover, it’s what fucking red carpets are for. Nobody steps onto the red carpet to talk about chemical weapon policy. Everyone dresses cute as hell for free, and in order to do this they have to say somebody’s name on national television, and let’s all just make our peace with this now. Even you, Reese! We’ll let you talk about Draper James as much as you want, OK?
So let's calm down and collect ourselves here. We’re twisting ourselves into sad, human-flavored pretzels trying to avoid talking about clothes because somebody told us clothes were bad, and in the process, we’re asking questions that are actually much more sexist, so we all look demented, and nobody wins. The solution here is to just recognize that the red carpet is not the place to engage in any kind of meaningful conversation, nor is it the place to drive a stake through the heart of sexism. Giuliana and Co.: Take a deep breath, ask everybody — men, women, children, crows — what they’re wearing, then ask them to hold your microphone while you run away screaming into the night.
The Lady Problem: If I had to choose one member of the Friends cast to encounter late at night in an alley, I would not choose Matt LeBlanc. (I would probably choose Lisa Kudrow, and we can talk more about why later, preferably in an alley.) Matt has always struck me as the sort of man who would take a lot of liberties; his new show, which is about a guy who struggles with being a stay-at-home dad because it’s, like, feminine and shit, does not do much to dissuade one from these notions.
Back in May, Game of Thrones’s Emilia Clarke admitted on the Graham Norton Show that she’d always had a little crush on LeBlanc (“I think you’re wicked”) and it was all very cute and sweet and British. This Sunday, when the two were inexplicably paired via split screen during a red-carpet interview, Matt took the liberty of proving me fully right re: him taking liberties. Asked if he watches Game of Thrones, LeBlanc replied, “I saw the first season and then kind of fell out of touch with it. ... And I guess that’s when she started getting naked, so I need to catch up.” Clarke looked uncomfortable but handled it gracefully by making a joke, because I’m sure she’s used to men reducing her to tits and then having to make everybody around her feel OK about it so as not to kill the #fun #vibes.
The Solution: Matt LeBlanc will guest star on Game of Thrones. He will play the role of Daenerys’s new husband, a garbageman from the future. They will marry in a beautiful ceremony overlooking that one river full of all of those skin-diseased zombies. He will say, “How you doin’?” to a zombie because he thinks he is charming and charming trumps gross in America. But this isn’t America. This is Westeros, bro!!! The zombie will clamp his hand down on Matt LeBlanc’s arm. Matt LeBlanc will spend the rest of the season dying of greyscale in slow motion. Every scene will see him bent over a toilet, weeping. At the end of the season, his entire body will have disintegrated except for his penis. His penis will wink at the camera, then disintegrate.