This week, Ryan Murphy’s TV shows received nine Emmy nominations. MJ Rodriguez even became the first trans woman nominated in a major category, for Murphy’s Pose. That makes the total nominations for his shows a whopping 236.
I’m a huge Ryan Murphy fan, and I’m in good company. Netflix has essentially given Murphy a blank cheque to create whatever he wants. And I have praised him for bringing queer stories and creatives into the mainstream. Indeed, for giving sorely needed airtime to LGBTQ+ women.
But despite his opulent, fantastical worlds of larger-than-life characters - they actually couldn’t feel further from my life and experiences.
However, when I first saw Mae Martin’s Feel Good, I watched the whole two-season show three times from start to finish within two weeks.
Instead of the popular cheerleader (Glee), the manipulative femme fatale (Ratched), or the privileged activist (The Politician) - Feel Good gave me something I recognised.
I identified with Mae’s struggles with addiction, trauma, gender identity, familial relationships, romance, and friendship. Mae’s semi-autobiographical show even prioritised marginalised genders right down to the soundtrack.
I felt seen, understood and represented. I hadn't realised until then, how important that was.
And yet, despite writing a feature about Martin, the Emmys didn’t nominate Feel Good. Martin was nominated for one BAFTA, in a ‘female performance’ category, even though the show explores that Martin doesn’t actually identify as female.
Once again, it feels like the shows written by queer women and non-binary people just don’t receive the same glory (or financial backing) that Murphy’s shows do, despite their profound effects on viewers like me.
Having female and non-binary characters written by people with that lived experience makes a huge difference. LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people shouldn’t have to simply find scraps of representation in Murphy’s back catalogue, an angsty period drama, or The L-Word.
We deserve better, we deserve more, and we deserve to write our own stories.
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