The original post for this episode can be found here.
John August: Hey, this is John. Today’s episode of Scriptnotes was recorded live at the Austin Film Festival. I wasn’t there, but I’m told the language gets a bit salty, so keep that in mind before you listen. Enjoy.
Craig Mazin: Hello and welcome. My name is Craig Mazin and this is Scriptnotes. A podcast about screenwriting and things—
Crowd: That are interesting to screenwriters.
Craig: Pitch perfect. And we are live in Austin once again at the Austin Writers Conference in a packed room.
Craig: I wish all of you at home could see the enthusiasm in this room right now. I am so excited to be here. John isn’t with us this year, but I’m in control now. So, strap in everyone. This is going to be interesting. And I assure you as I always do that there’s going to be a lot of time for Q&A because I do believe that, you know, honestly that’s why you’re here. We have incredible guests. And so I want to introduce them one by one.
Today joining us on the stage we have Ayanna Floyd who – Ayanna has written at a very high level on Hannibal and The Chi and the upcoming Cotton Club series which I believe you’re the showrunner of the upcoming Cotton Club series. Is that right?
Ayanna Floyd: It’s Dead-ish.
Craig: Ish. I like it. That’s good enough for me. Next to them we have two up and coming writers named David Benioff and Dan Weiss. And you may know them from Gamay of Thrones. [laughs] We have the great Liz Hannah with us tonight. Liz Hannah has written The Post, and she is also on Mindhunter. Come on.
Never one to sit around and wait, Nichelle Tramble has shown up just in time – by the way, you look beautiful tonight. Did you put like, OK, something is going on there. This is great. Nichelle Tramble, I’ve got a thing with Nichelle. And her husband is right next to her. It’s weird. What room are you in? [laughs] Nichelle Tramble has written on Justified, The Good Wife, and she is the showrunner and creator of the upcoming Truth Be Told on Apple. Nichelle Tramble.
And next to her, Malcolm Spellman, who isn’t my oldest but is my dearest friend in the world, and has written on Empire and is the showrunner of the upcoming Falcon and the Winter Soldier from Marvel. Malcolm Spellman.
And then just to mix it up a total failure. David Mandel unfortunately has only written on Saturday Night Live, Conan O’Brien, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Veep. I’m so sorry.
Well, we’ve got quite a show in store for you all. I’ve got some normal questions that I’m going to throw out to you guys. Please all feel free to chip in, even if I don’t necessarily address them to you. And we’re going to have a little bit of a fun game we’re going to play later. And then we’re going to turn it over to the audience for Q&A. And it’s going to be a great old time. And then when it’s over, more drinking. So, hooray, welcome to Austin.
So I want to start with David Benioff and Liz and Malcolm. We all have something in common. We were in movies. We started in features and now we find ourselves in TV. And I’m just kind of curious for you guys is there any interest in going back or is this kind of a permanent exodus? Are people just leaving features and going to TV and not returning?
David Benioff: Liz?
Liz Hannah: Malcolm?
Malcolm Spellman: Um, it’s funny. I did this little panel at the WGA for black writers. And the statistic was like if African-Americans made up 1.5% of feature writers, it went down in its diversity push to 1%. So–
Craig: Oh, so the diversity is working.
Malcolm: It’s – my point being I think the feature business is so hostile and closed, it’s a worthless cause. I don’t think we should bother with it. They can have that shit. We’re doing good stuff. We’re making a difference with TV.
Craig: To be clear, they is white people.
Malcolm: So what was the woman’s name from Crazy Rich Asians? The writer?
Craig: Adele Lim.
Malcolm: Who needs that shit? You know what I’m saying? They can have it. They can just fail on their own.
Craig: Let me put a little context there. She was very successful, but she had difficulty getting paid what she thought was a fair amount to return for the sequel. I didn’t want you to misunderstand Malcolm there. So, continue. I’m just thinking of Twitter and how it is.
Malcolm: So, fuck no.
Craig: I’m protecting you as best I can.
Malcolm: Like what I’m presenting to you all is, no, the truth is, you know, an occasional thing might come around where it’s worth it just because I know the experience is going to be great, but I have no intention of giving them my energy or creativity in a meaningful way ever again. Fuck ‘em.
Craig: Well, that was a bit of a mushy answer. David Benioff, you and Dan Weiss, you’ve made a new deal to make programming for Netflix, but Netflix of course is kind of it could be features, it could be television. Does it even matter? Or is it just sort of mushed together for you guys now?
You can’t throw this one to Liz.
Dan Weiss: Dave?
David Benioff: Malcolm took my answer.
Craig: In case you wondering what it meant to be a professional, there it is. You’re not that funny. Don’t even try. Guys?
Dan: What was the question?
Craig: The question is—
David Mandel: Craig, is this the vamping part or did we start yet?
Liz: It’s so nice you’re still holding onto your questions so tightly because those should just be thrown away.
Craig: No, oh no, no. John would be very upset. I have to try at my best. So the question for you guys is, you know, you did a lot of feature work. You guys had enormous success in television. Is there any road back to features like traditional features, or no?
David Benioff: I think the thing that would be hard to go back to is on every feature I worked on I never once sat in on a casting session. I never once sat in in the edit bay. Never once sat in hiring department heads, any of that stuff. Because that’s just the way it is for screenwriters on a feature. And so to have the experience that Dan and I had on Thrones where we got to do that stuff, and that was so much fun, and that’s so crucial to telling a story, to give that up and go back I think would be really hard.
Dan: I mean, that said, Netflix is fluid in that way. So if the opportunity arises to tell – I mean, some stories need 75 hours, some stories need 87 minutes. And if we have stories to tell that need 87 minutes and we can find a way to do them there that lets us tell stories the way we’ve been telling stories for the past 10 years then, yeah, that would be great.
Obviously all of us here grew up on movies. Everybody in this room grew up on movies. We haven’t kicked to the curb the things that built us.
Craig: Malcolm has.
Dan: Malcolm. He has, but like–
Craig: Definitively. I believe his words were “Fuck ‘em.”
David Mandel: And I was just going to say possibly by association we’ve all been ruined tonight. It’s very possible just sitting here with him on this stage.
Craig: Liz Hannah, what do you think?
Liz:But also like, yeah, I mean, Malcolm is right. Why shouldn’t he feel that way? And why shouldn’t he not want to work in movies because of that? I don’t think it’s dismissive as like, yeah, fuck it. I don’t think it’s a joke. I think it’s real. Like I think it’s like, yeah, fuck ‘em. If they’re not going to look at you and respect you then don’t do it.
And your question of going back to features and working in TV is, look, we’re writers. Writers are not respected as much in features as they are in television. It’s a fact.
Craig: It is. I have felt it myself. Well—
David Mandel: I was just going to – a serious point just wherever this fits in, and I know obviously Chernobyl most recently, but you were a comedy writer as once and a while I was. I mean, what little movies they make, none of them are comedies. The movies that I guess what little I used to sell, they don’t even make those anymore.
Craig: That’s right.
David Mandel: I mean, literally don’t make them. They don’t exist. Like the notion of the – you know, the first thing I did with Schaffer and Berg was – the goal was, hey, we’re going to sort of spec sell and make a $15 million little movie that’s funny. Just nonexistent. And that’s crazy.
Liz:I’m going to also counter. The two movies that I have made, one was a political film about two people in their 50s in 1971 and nobody fucks. And then the second one was a romantic comedy in 2019 when everybody said romantic comedies were dead. And not a lot of people saw the romantic comedy, to be fair. But people liked it. And people had a conversation about what romantic comedy was in the new era. And so I will say like what it taught me in that experience of working in features and working in television is like nothing we think is expected is expected. Or like nothing we think matters matters. Like let’s just do the things we want to do.
Like I wanted to write the American president in 2019. I wanted to write a movie about falling in love with my husband in 2019. And I thought nobody would want to see it. And not a lot of people did.
Craig: So you were right. Nobody wanted to see it.
Liz:But people did—
Craig: Some people wanted to see it.
Liz:Some people wanted to. But what I’m saying is like I think if we’re going to make movies now it has to be about us investing enough into it. Like it can’t just be about projects that we’re being assigned. And it can’t just be about things that we’re doing because they want us to do them. It has to be because you’re committing to do it. It has to be the way we’re doing TV now which is you’re committing ten years of your life. To do a movie now should be like I’m putting my soul into it.
Craig: Well that’s a great dream. I mean, I think mostly what’s available now for features is kind of what they want you to do, sort of the inventory that they have. And obviously a great night for those of you who want to be in features, so. So welcome to the show. And good luck.
Dan: Watch Craig go back to features.
Craig: Probably. Since you all abandoned it all of that money is mine.
Dan: Nobody is there. Nobody is there.
Craig: Ayanna and Nichelle, two of you. I want to talk to the two of you because now we’re going to switch over to the television world and the way it’s changing. And I think of the two of you as great examples of people that come in in kind of a traditional route. You come in, you’re working as writers. You impress – we were talking about this at dinner – and you go up and up and up. There’s a ladder. And you climb the ladder and you get to the top of the ladder and you make your own show. You run your own show.
But I have this weird feeling that these days that ladder is getting short-circuited. That suddenly people are just showing up and suddenly they’re making a show. And maybe they’re not necessarily ready. And I wanted to ask the two of you what your experience is of that and if you think that the ladder is being disrupted. The normal progress.
Ayanna:Yes, the normal progress is being disrupted. And on one hand it’s a good thing, because it’s allowed for people who look like me to kind of kick the door in.
Ayanna: That. And black. [laughs]
Craig: Oh, I want to assure you I totally see color.
Ayanna: So it’s allowed many of us to come in, because the traditional route that I went through, that Nichelle went through, there is absolute value in it. Also, it took me twice as long to climb that ladder and it wasn’t always fun. And it was sometimes harder than it needed to be. So I can appreciate people just coming in and kicking the door down. Right?
On the other side, I won’t say which show, but I have noticed that a lot of younger writers are just not equipped. I mean, they’re just not equipped.
Craig: They’re not ready.
Ayanna: They’re not ready. And in they’re in rooms and they’re getting opportunities that they are absolutely not ready for. And what’s going to happen is and what often happens is they get minimized very quickly. And I also worry – we talk about this all the time – when the industry starts to shrink, because it will, because there’s so much television, so much content, where will those people go? And what will happen? And that’s why my thing is always you have to focus on the craft. You have to work hard. And you, you know, writing is a process. It’s not a destination. I still have insecurities as a writer. I just called Nichelle a couple of weeks ago and I was like, hey, I’ve got a pitch coming up. Can I talk to you about it? Like those types of things matter.
And I do feel like it has gotten a little lost.
Craig: Professionalism. It seems like what you’re talking about is professionalism.
Ayanna:Basically. I’m trying to be nice. [laughs]
Craig: No, no. I think that there’s a real concern that as the door gets kicked open and things get short-circuited that some people are going to come in, they’re not ready. They have an initial failure and they just leave. Right? They don’t go through. Nichelle, what’s your perspective on this?
Nichelle Tramble: Well, the way that I saw that when I was staffing for Truth Be Told, I would get submissions from agents for writers for staff. And they were, you know, at a producer level or supervising producer level. And then when I looked at their actual credits they were on shows that had four episodes, six episodes, ten episodes. And so they were getting that bump after every year, but the experience wasn’t there.
And that didn’t make any sense to me. I felt like I know if you finish a season but seasons have shrunk. On The Good Wife we did 22 episodes. So after four years on The Good Wife you’ve done a lot of TV. Yeah, so that’s a huge difference. So if you come to me and you’ve gotten a bump up the ladder but you only have 12 episodes total it didn’t make any sense. And it didn’t make any sense in the room or on the page because there were just a lot of basic things that weren’t learned and weren’t there, from basic writing an outline or a story document or something like that, to simple room etiquette. And that’s a big deal.
Craig: Room etiquette.
Craig: And Malcolm, you’re running a room. How do you kind of bring the new kids along to kind of get them educated about what the room etiquette is? And if they’re struggling do you lift them up or do you let them sink?
Malcolm: It’s getting to the point now where we are – me and Nichelle personally – trying to cultivate a farm league. Because the people coming in now there’s a culture clash that’s going on with I’m not–
Craig: Don’t worry about it. Just go ahead and blow it up.
David Mandel: Just say it. Just say Fuck ‘em.
Craig: Fuck ‘em.
David Mandel: Fuck ‘em. Come on, no, no, fuck ‘em.
Malcolm: It’s funny, can I side bar real quick? When I first started doing round tables with you and getting around guys like this, you’re at home and you’re thinking you’re super funny and you’re a genius. And then you get around the big leagues and you’re like they can do that shit all fucking day, 18 hours.
Craig: Mandel has still got some heat on his fast ball.
Malcolm: Yeah. That’s what Wilmore told me. I was in the–
Craig: One of the Scary Movies?
Malcolm: Super hero one.
Craig: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Malcolm: And Wilmore was killing me. And he knew it. And I was walking out and he said, “You like that heat I was throwing in there?” [laughs]
Craig: You’ve still got it.
Malcolm: But, no, I do think it’s become difficult because you’re dealing with like Ayanna and Nichelle said a lack of experience that really is – you can’t miss it. You’re dealing with people who are coming there as a sense of entitlement. TV has exploded in a way, I don’t know if any industry has exploded the same way. It is more than double than what it was seven years ago.
Craig: No question.
Malcolm: Right? Which means if that many new jobs are occurring the vetting system must be different. And expectation for writers coming in it’s obviously going to be a little bit less – what’s the word – like the fight isn’t the same because the fucking industry just blew up. And so these people walk into your room not having suffered the way pretty much all of us on this stage have. And the way they carry themselves is not appropriate.
Craig: They haven’t been broken down completely yet.
Malcolm: They’ve got no sense of regard for what you’ve done. And so now I think the backlash that’s coming – I don’t think we’re the only ones – is people are starting to say, “Fuck that. Let me groom my own youngsters and bring in people who I think are solid.” Cause these other people coming in from the outside are not built right.
Craig: They don’t get it.
Malcolm: They’re not built right, yeah.
Craig: And there’s not the respect that’s required.
David Mandel: We had it both ways on Veep. One I guess success story and one I guess not. Which was my first season, taking over the show sort of midway, I mostly went with veterans. I wanted people I felt – because I felt like we weren’t going to get a lot of wiggle room. That people had expectations. And so there wasn’t a lot of room, but I did hire a staff writer and I realize I’m going to keep it somewhat vague, although obviously you can look it up.
And it didn’t work out.
Craig: Right now if you want to, by the way.
David Mandel: But I’ll leave it at that. It did not work out. It was just not a good year. And I blame myself partially. The job was overwhelming. I did not have the opportunity to mentor this person the way I hoped I would. And a couple of the other senior writers tried to step in. And, I don’t know. It didn’t work.
However, we had a writer’s PA who is a stand up in her own world and in one of the stages of Veep, I guess for lack of a better word I just “gather-alls.” Like when we’re doing a scene, I just get them and I get them anonymously. I mean, they’re just handed to me by writer’s assistants. And I just go through them and I’m mixing and matching and adding my own stuff. And I don’t know whose is what. Best joke wins. That’s all I care about.
And at some point like a year into it someone said, “Amelia is getting a lot on. I mean, just jokes and stuff.” And it was just sort of like fantastic. And when we came back we made her a staff writer. And I think for her it did help that she had been around the room. Someone mentioned room etiquette, whatever. I think that she had learned—
Craig: The culture.
David Mandel: Not just rooms in general, but she had learned our room to our extent. And she’s off on her career and I couldn’t be more happy. So it does work both ways. But it’s hard. You bump into people that have the exec-producer credit and you just cannot believe that they have it. I don’t know what else to say.
Craig: Right. I know it’s something that you used to have to – that was the height. You know, you finally climbed to the top of the mountain. And now they’re just sort of—
Dan: Are you talking about us? Is he talking about us?
Craig: Pretty much. Yeah. We’ll get to you in a minute. But first I want to talk a little bit more with Dave Mandel down there. Because Dave when it comes to television you’ve had a remarkable run. It’s rare to just keep winning. It’s actually frustrating to me.
David Mandel: Let the record show my movie credits are just shit.
Craig: I was going to go through those. But, first, it seems to me that at some point there’s more than just talent going on. What do you think is the secret to making what I think is the hardest genre – comedy – to make it work time and time again almost without fail? What is going on there?
David Mandel: I guess from my perspective and I was really – I was very lucky at Saturday Night Live to work under some just incredible people. At Saturday Night Live Al Franken was kind of my mentor and then a man named Jim Downy, which if you know Saturday Night live maybe people know the legend of—
Craig: The great Jim Downy. You guys know him as the guy who says, “What you just said may be the stupidest thing.” That guy.
David Mandel: And he was also the change bank guy. But he literally might be the funniest human being on earth. And most of anything you kind of ever liked on Saturday Night Live from Strategery to Fred Garvin Male Prostitute was Jim Downy. And I learned, I mean I was there for three years. And to this day I write a joke and I think to myself that’s a Jim joke, that’s an Al joke, you know, those pieces of it.
And then when I got to Seinfeld, Larry really taught me to write a show, an outline. And he had learned basically because he had never worked on a traditional sitcom. So he was not taught in a room by that – just to be clear, comedy rooms are very different than your guys’ rooms. Comedy rooms are atrocious. Comedy rooms are group thought and group write. And I do all the work but it’s your turn to write it so you write it, even though I did all the work. You know, what seems funny at 2am where you’re watching a show going, “What?”
And so that stuff, that structure, those lessons that those of us that were there getting those lessons, I think that’s what we sort of went out and did. And, I don’t know, that’s what has carried me through I feel like.
Craig: Well, it has certainly worked. Now, you two, since you were so insistent, Dan. You guys I think better than pretty much anybody that I’ve ever experienced as a television watcher made me enjoy and dread anticipation. I mean, my heart legitimately would race at the beginning of a new season of Game of Thrones. I don’t know if – I’m not that jaded. I mean, I would get so excited. And I would get so excited to see how the season would end.
And that anticipation it feels like is kind of maybe going away. It’s something that obviously networks still do. They show something once a week. HBO still does it. They show something once a week. But even for stuff like HBO/networks, there’s also the option to just wait and binge it. And then for Netflix there is not option. It’s just there it all is. Do you think that the binge model or the unenforced anticipation is something that is going to change the way you actually approach things creatively as you go forward?
Dan: Speaking for me, I don’t think so. I mean, I think you want to tell a story. Your episode you want to be the best episode it can be. Your season you want to be the best season it can be. I don’t think it would really – you’re trying to game the system to try to hook people into – you’re doing that anyway by the nature of the medium. Like yeah, you do an episode of television, you want someone to watch the next episode of television. But I don’t think – I’m speaking for me, slightly speaking for us, not speaking for the companies that we work for because they may have different agendas – but will it change the way that TV is experienced by us, like the big us? Will it change the way that these stories affect us as a whole? Without question.
I mean, what you’re talking about is a group phenomenon. It’s a societal phenomenon. Something shows up and you watch it, or you don’t, and then you discuss it with the people you care about the next day. And we’ve all felt that changing.
Craig: It’s kind of replacing the water cooler. So the water cooler was, “Did you see blankety-blank last night?” And now the water cooler is, “Have you watched this series yet?”
Dan: And this is an HBO show I’m referencing now, not even a binge show. But like Succession.
Craig: Yeah. That feels like a water cooler show.
Dan: Which is a water cooler show. And yet even that, which is a water cooler show that is released week by week. We were at dinner tonight talking about it and he’s like, “I’m on this episode. I’m on that episode.” Half of the table is plugging their ears when somebody else talks about the thing they haven’t seen.
Liz:It was you. You were plugging your ears.
Dan: I was plugging my ears. I was talking to myself.
Craig: You’re not half the table. You’re just one man.
Dan: In my mind I was half the table.
Dan: And that experience extrapolated out to what does it mean when everybody watches things at their own pace, that’s going to change the group experience. No question.
Craig: Do you feel any difference in terms of – or even any kind of sense of loss of that model? Because it seems like it’s going to just go away completely.
David Benioff: Well, I don’t know. We’ve argued about that, right? I mean, Malcolm thinks it’ll come back.
Craig: Well, go ahead Malcolm.
Dan: You think it’s coming back.
Craig: Is there another “fuck ‘em” in our future?
Malcolm: No, but it’s not going away. And you could always binge HBO shows. It’s just Netflix doing that shit. And no one else – the people who are about to possibly eat their lunch–
Malcolm: As we’re talking about, they’ll release a couple in a row. But they have all separately decided that week-to-week is more bang for your buck. Marketing. It extends the conversation.
Nichelle: Apple will release three episodes and then go week to week.
Craig: Is that news? Did you just break some news? Because I haven’t heard that. Well, that should send the stock moving up or down. I don’t know which one. But that’s a fascinating model. It’s the crack model. Let’s face it, it’s crack.
Apple is a crack dealer. We know that. That’s brilliant.
Malcolm: I was just saying that’s all of Hulu, Disney+, Apple, all using pretty much the exact same model.
David Benioff: With three?
Malcolm: Two or three.
Craig: So two or three, and then they go week to week. So obviously they see something inherently valuable in that kind of dribs and drabs.
Malcolm: We’re all fighting about this by the way.
Craig: It is amazing. The fights that go on. It’s gorgeous. Liz, please go ahead.
Liz:I also want to say it has to do with what the point of what you’re releasing is. Because if you’re releasing something and it’s episodic based and you are breaking it episodically and you are telling the story that way in a very strictly – I’m using quotes – as we know television format, then yes, that works.
If you’re breaking something that you’re using 10 hours of television to be released that way then that doesn’t necessarily work. That is why Netflix exists. That is why you’re saying whatever the three and six or full drop on Hulu or whatever it is works. Like I think there is a benefit to this fluctuating system we have as storytellers to say like Mindhunter is maybe the slowest burn ever. And so – for me personally, in a positive way. And I don’t think it would ever be built to be as a weekly drop. And would ever be built as a three and then multiple drop. And that’s intentional. And that’s from the top down.
And so I think you have to look at it creatively from the beginning of like what is the story you’re telling. How do you want this to be told? And how do you want to tell it? And then say where are we going to release it from there.
Dan: Malcolm, I think that’s a really good answer.
Craig: Malcolm just smiled. That’s a terrible smile. I’ve seen it before. It’s horrible. Only terrible things come after it. Dave, I think you were going to say something.
David Mandel: Oh, I had a shitty HBO Max joke that I was going to try.
Craig: No better time to workshop it than now.
David Mandel: It was going to be – they’ve got a different plan. It’s going to be $50 a month and it’s only going to be on DIRECTV. And it’s going to be really something special. HBO Max. See me if you want to sign up afterwards. It’s not bad. Not great. But yeah.
Craig: It’s on the way, man. I feel like that’s on the way. If you had a choice, Ayanna, if you had a choice, just like Liz is saying. Some shows want to be one thing, some shows want to be another. But Netflix is like this is how we do it. And HBO goes this is how we do it. If you had a choice, what’s your druthers? You want it all out there, or do you want to kind of go the week by week? Because I can see positives in either direction.
Ayanna: I just watched this show on Netflix called Rhythm and Flow. It was great. It was a rap competition. Did you guys see it?
Craig: Yeah, it was cool.
Ayanna: I liked the way they released it. They did three episodes every week. So they did—
Craig: OK, so they’re coming up with new plans now.
Ayanna: Six, nine. Yeah. I think I like that. I think week to week, I don’t know, I have a touch of ADD.
Craig: Just a touch.
Ayanna: Yeah. [laughs]
Craig: [speaks in French].
Ayanna: I don’t like the idea that – I want to be in the conversation. I don’t like the conversation to be ahead of the conversation or behind the conversation. But I think somewhere like in the middle.
Craig: You know, I think these compromise solutions are really interesting because the only thing that I’ve ever thought about this releasing stuff, just because television up until I guess five years ago was released exactly one way. Week by week by week. And there is – so it’s interesting to look at what this means. And the only thing that I think is that if you release it all at once there is a sort of implied devaluation of the material. And so I really like this kind of hybrid model, where they’re sort of acknowledging, look, you’re all too impatient to wait.
Ayanna: But I will say that something like Chernobyl, like what was it six episodes?
Ayanna: Five. OK.
Liz: Who wrote Chernobyl?
Craig: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I did that. I did that.
Dan: That wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny.
Liz: Was that the half-hour sitcom on Fox?
Craig: We brought in Mandel and he just killed it. I mean, just all the funny. Yeah.
Ayanna: But something like that, I say week to week.
Craig: It seemed to help us, week to week.
Ayanna: I say week to week. Five episodes or a shorter order.
Craig: Well that was kind of heavy, wasn’t it? I mean, it’s like who wants to watch all that at once?
David Benioff: I would say there’s also an argument that it doesn’t matter that much. You know? I came to Breaking Bad really late because we were in the middle of making Thrones. And I didn’t get to it until I think the final season was split into two. And between the first half of the final season and the second was when I started watching it. And then I just became an addict and was watching an episode on the way to set on the iPad, in the back seat, and then on the way back from set. And just blew threw it in a couple weeks. And then had to wait for the final half of the season where I watched them in real time with everybody. And watching it both ways was incredible. And at the end of the day it’s because Breaking Bad was fucking great.
And so, you know, the argument is interesting and it’s professionally very interesting to us, but I don’t know if there’s necessarily an answer. Or it’s just if the show is good enough–
Craig: Then it doesn’t really matter.
Dan: I think this matters more to the people who aren’t us. Or should matter more to the people who aren’t in this room and the people who aren’t us. I’m not saying we spend no time thinking about it. We spend–
Craig: Not a lot of time.
Dan: Tiny bit of time thinking about it. But honestly like I don’t give a shit.
Craig: It’s not in the forefront of your mind. I mean, I’ll tell you, Dave, I actually watched Breaking Bad almost exactly the same way you did. And I take your point. I think maybe I suppose you could say the fact that it was released week by week helped it become what it was. So it helped people–
David Benioff: Also Netflix helped it become what it was.
Craig: Well, exactly.
Malcolm: We have [unintelligible], let’s be clear about that.
Dan: That’s how we all – a lot of us that’s how we all experienced it.
Craig: That’s how my 14-year-old daughter has watched every episode of Friends, a show that was made well before she was born. So it is transforming things.
David Benioff: But Vince Gilligan—
Liz:But I guess I don’t understand why we’re having the argument or having—
Craig: We’re not having an argument.
Liz:Not an argument.
Dan: Because we have an hour to kill.
Liz:Settle down right now. It’s just like why don’t we look at it as there is a plethora of options. And let’s make content we want to make and let’s find the place to make it. And find the place that will let us make it the way we want to make it.
Craig: Well, the good news is there’s more of those places than ever.
David Mandel: Sorry, just to make an actual real point. I truly meant the shit I have been saying, not what you were saying. But I was going to say, not a joke, I do think the week to week model allows you to grow into a show. And there are shows where I think if they were just dumped out there and you were only given the binge option and there was either – and I’m not talking about a situation where you’re binging late and other people are saying to you, “No, no, no, stick with it. Get at least to episode four,” that there are certain shows that develop, sort of figure themselves out a little slower and there is something – I guess I am a fan of the traditional version.
Craig: I think Succession is like that. It kind of found itself.
David Mandel: Yeah, Succession, I definitely said to people give it a couple to get there and I guess I would worry about the, oh no, because again in that short attention span just turning it off.
Craig: Well that was a great not-argument that we had, Liz. I thought.
Liz: To make a real point, I think Dave is right.
Craig: Yep. Can’t go wrong with that.
David Mandel: Look, let’s just agree to fuck it, OK? Fuck it.
Liz: Fuck it.
Craig: Fuck it. We’re going to play a couple of quick games and then we’re going to turn it over to the audience for some questions. This game is a real easy one. It’s just run by me and I judge it. It’s called How Do You Follow That Up?
David Mandel: What’s it called?
Craig: How Do You Follow That Up? Dave Mandel, Veep is over. How do you follow that up?
David Mandel: No, this is exciting. I’m doing one of the Game of Thrones spinoffs.
Craig: Works. Malcolm, you were on Empire. It’s a show that nobody expected to be a massive hit. Massive hit. You’re on a Marvel show, you’re following it up.
Malcolm: I followed up.
Craig: You followed up. You’re already following up. You have no problems whatsoever. Nichelle, I saw the trailer. You’re following up. Have you guys seen the trailer for Truth Be Told? Yeah, she’s following it up. I’m going to go over to you, Ayanna. Cotton Club.
Ayanna: I told you, it’s Dead-ish.
Craig: Ish. Ish. Is there any chance? Because I think it’s a movie that would be perfect to serialize in television.
Ayanna: I love Cotton Club. It’s a great script, if I may say so myself. But it’s having some challenges in the marketplace right now. I am following it up with something else, but I can’t talk about it.
Craig: OK, so you’re following it up though is the point.
Ayanna: Yes I am. Yes.
Craig: I’ll get to the two of you in a second. Liz, The Post. Boom. Mindhunter. Boom. How are you going to follow that up?
Liz: I’m going to work for these guys.
Craig: All right, all right. So let’s get to these guys. You guys did Game of Thrones. The biggest television show of all time. No show could possibly be bigger or better than it. It is impossible to do anything better than you’ve already done. How are you going to follow that up? How are you going to follow it up? Please speak directly to Netflix executives. [laughs] How are you going to follow this up?
Ayanna: He said, “Fuck it.”
Craig: That’s a great answer. Malcolm has given us our best answer. Now we have – this is a cute little game.
David Benioff: What about you? Craig Mazin, Craig Mazin, you wrote and show-run Chernobyl, the greatest limited series according to IMDb. The highest first television foray ever.
Craig: Yes, I made one television show.
David Benioff: Best writing Emmy and best producing Emmy.
Dan: Saw him double fisting it.
Liz:Best beard. Best beard.
Dan: They call him Double-fisting Mazin.
David Benioff: A lot of people say the greatest limited series in history.
Craig: Yeah. Thank you. So.
David Benioff: How are you going to follow that up, Craig?
Craig: Fukushima. [laughs] Obviously. Guys, it’s a simple search and replace.
Liz: John is so mad right now.
Craig: So easy. OK, we’ve been drinking. So, before we get to you guys, this is a real game. So – that wasn’t a real game. My friend David Kwong who is a magician and puzzle genius and I put together a little puzzle competition for people and this is one of the puzzles that we played. But this is a movie – it’s going to be fine. This is movie quotes. You guys should be able to nail this. If you know it, don’t say it until they all fail.
Liz:Is this like Jeopardy? Do we ring in?
Craig: Just raise your hand.
Liz:We’re very competitive, so I just need to know.
Craig: I think just you are. So we’re going to raise our hand. I’m going to give you a movie quote that I’ve just changed all the words but the meaning is still there.
David Benioff: Ayanna is looking. She’s looking.
Craig: Ayanna is falling asleep.
Ayanna: No, I’m getting gum.
Craig: Oh, you’re getting gum. OK, here we go. We’ll start you off with an easy one. “My intention is to suggest an undeniable proposition.”
David Benioff: An Offered Proposal?
Liz: Indecent Proposal?
David Mandel: Godfather? An offer he can’t refuse.
Craig: Yes, I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Godfather. See, this is easy. Don’t get too thrilled about it.
“I am completely superior to the famous and large primate of mythology.”
Malcolm: King Kong ain’t got nothing on me.
Craig: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Liz: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
Dan: Are you changing words?
Craig: Are you shitting me?
David Benioff: I thought he was changing words.
Craig: Dude, you made Game of Thrones. Did you just ask that question?
Liz: I’m curious about the quote.
Craig: It’s much worse than that.
Liz: I just want to know what the real quote is that you’re rearranging.
Craig: The real quote, it’s actually King Kong ain’t got shit on me.
Liz: Right, so what did you just say?
Craig: I am completely superior to the famous and large primate of mythology.
Liz: Right, so that’s not the same words.
Craig: Wow. All right, let’s just talk about what it means to play a game. Let’s just go back to that. It’s a game.
Liz: I didn’t know that these were the rules. I thought I was rearranging words. And now—
Craig: If I just said, “King Kong ain’t got shit on me,” and someone said, “I know it. It’s King Kong ain’t got shit on me.” This would be the worst game ever.
Liz: I didn’t know the rules. And now I feel prepared. Thank you.
Craig: So here we go. Number three.
Liz: A lot of stakes.
Craig: “My choice is now identical to hers.” Nothing? Nothing? Nothing? To the audience?
Audience: I’ll have what she’s having.
Craig: So much smarter than you guys.
Liz: What was it?
Craig: I’ll have what she’s having. Harry Met Sally. OK, super easy one. “Greet my diminutive companion.”
Male Voice: Say hello to my little friends.
Craig: Say hello to my little friends. Perfect. This is my favorite one. No, the last one is my favorite one.
David Mandel: Wait a second. You’re changing the words?
Liz: Thank you! Thank you!
Craig: Professional timing. You see how professional he is? He just waited there.
Liz: Well Dave was just weighing in with a real opinion. So.
Craig: He was like in the towner, like Barry Pepper waiting to shoot me in the head.
Liz: Is that Saving Private Ryan?
Craig: Yes. Different game.
Liz: You’re welcome. Do I get a point for that one?
Craig: No. “This metaphorical infant shall not be positioned at the junction of two walls by any person.”
David Benioff: No one puts baby in a corner.
Craig: Yes! Dirty Dancing.
David Mandel: What was it?
Craig: No one puts baby in a corner. Dirty Dancing.
Liz:If you have to ask the entire audience, Craig.
David Benioff: Are you going to name this game?
Craig: Yeah, it’s named Awesomeness. No, I’m not naming it.
David Benioff: OK, all right. “Add protective coating, remove protective coating.”
Liz: Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.
Craig: Yeah! I got your number, Liz. You’re the kind of person who is like, “This game sucks. This game sucks. I’m winning! I love it.”
Liz: Fuck you all. I got one.
Craig: Last one, and then we go to audience. “Farewell, woman whose name is the feminine version of Felix.” Audience?
Audience: Bye Felicia.
Craig: Bye Felicia. Jealous.
Liz: Is that a movie quote?
Craig: Oh my god. Friday. OK. We’ll do some Q&A and you can ask any one of these brilliant people any question you want and I will compel them to answer. Begin. Yes ma’am.
Female Audience Member: Hi, my name is Kiana.
Craig: Hi Kiana.
Female Audience Member: And my question was for the TV writers and with the media landscape changing how do you translate experience in other arenas into experience for a room and conversely how do you take that writers’ room experience you guys are talking about in areas that aren’t like an actual writers’ room? How do you translate – do that in the real world, the world outside of writers’ rooms?
Craig: So you’re learning lessons in the writers’ room, you’re learning lessons in life, how do these kind of feed into each other? You’re all professional writers, so feel free to–?
Malcolm: The first half I think I got. It takes practice to start to understand that each person usually has lived – very few people have not lived a worthwhile life. The gap when you walk into a writers’ room, you have to get into the habit of paying attention to where the story is going and naturally knowing that maybe a story about the way your mom cooked a meal, or the way your church did something different from other churches applies to that story. So I guess what I’m saying is everyone has that reservoir and if you are a storyteller there is still one more learned skillset which is – here’s what the answer is. You pay attention to how the more senior people are mining their personal lives and then you very quickly start to understand, oh shit, well, I remember my brother and me used to go fishing at this thing and dot-dot-dot and you’ll start to see how that ritual of pulling your own life and applying it to other people’s stories comes.
David Mandel: I was just going to say, when we used to hire people on Seinfeld literally the hiring process was just give us a list of ideas by characters. Kramer ideas. Elaine ideas. George ideas. And you’d go through the list and they’d all be terrible and you’d get to one, and I don’t know, it would be like, “A fight with an Uber driver.” Whatever it is. And you’d go this one is really funny. This really happened, right? The rest, you were a writer sitting at home trying to think of what was funny, but this was something real that you’re now extrapolating on. And they’d be like, “How do you know?” And it’s like, well, it’s the only funny one.
And Seinfeld and Curb and to this day on my iPhone, even though I haven’t worked a Curb in a couple of years, I have just my Curb list of things that happen that I write down and then I’ll either give them to Larry or I’ll figure out a way to use them for something else. But that reality – and obviously taking it somewhere. That’s obviously also the hard part. But to start to identify these things that could be something.
Very quickly, you also have to learn what a story is. And there’s no other way of saying that. And, again, to talk about people in LA, like a story is not a location. A story is not just something that happened or something that someone said. A story is a story. And you do have to figure that out. But you can mine your life. And that’s where I think a lot of that certainly from a comedy standpoint that comedy reality comes from, for me.
Craig: Ayanna, you were going to jump in there.
Ayanna: Oh, no, I was just looking at Malcolm when he was talking because we worked on Empire together. And remember “move the table?” That’s a great way to mine. I’m not saying that because it was my idea. But, and it never made it in the show.
Craig: Tell us about this. What’s “move the table?”
Malcolm: It’s a perfect example actually because it was specific to Ayanna’s experience and that specificity made everything great. So Lucious and Andre I think were about to fight. And the room was hemming and hawing about how to make this scene and interesting and how the characters would react. And Ayanna brought up an anecdote from her life and applied it – and the way it basically manifested, because I’m going to ruin the story or whatever, was that it was like what would Cookie who was the star of the show do. And Ayanna was like, oh yeah, she tells a story where basically it’s like, oh well, if y’all about to fight up in here move that table out of the way and don’t fuck up my furniture. And the entire room, it was like what you were saying about comedy, the entire room knew that was the pitch.
Craig: Because it was real.
Malcolm: Because it was specific and it felt real. Yeah, it brought it all together.
Ayanna: And scene.
Craig: Best answer possible.
Ayanna: It never made it.
Craig: And it never made it in. But now all these people know. Yes, ma’am right there.
Female Audience Member: Hi, my name is Annie and Ayanna I really appreciated how you had mentioned reaching out to Nichelle to talk about a pitch. Because as a writer and creator of color I’ve noticed that there’s this idea that there can only be one of us when it comes to like marginalized communities and breaking in. So I wanted to know if you or any of the non-white men on the panel can talk a little bit—
Craig: I’m Jewish. Doesn’t count. Yeah, the racists have told me. I’m good. Sorry, go on.
Female Audience Member: I wanted to know if you could speak a little bit about how we can be collaborative and build community and not see each other as competitors but more as allies.
Craig: Great question. What do you think?
David Mandel: I find the best collaboration—
Craig: Oh my god!
David Mandel: I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Craig: Why do you have to be so professionally funny? You’re so lucky John is not here. Because John would have been like, “No, no, you didn’t hear. She said…she was very clear who she wanted to hear from.”
To the non-white writers up here, any answer to the excellent question?
Nichelle: Well, it’s a little bit about building a community. You know, and you can be a good writer, but you can also be a good friend. And when you meet people that you admire and appreciate, when there’s an opportunity to work with them you take it. And when I was on Good Wife, which was a great room, and I think my second year there another woman joined the staff, Erica Shelton Kodish, and that was the first time I’d ever been in a room with another black woman. And that was my fourth show. And it wasn’t because they weren’t there, it was just this weird twist of fate that they left the year I got there. And so it was weirdly like I met some of them afterwards and we kind of joke like, oh, I replaced you.
But I don’t think it’s that sinister, frankly. And one of the things about it is when I was staffing Truth Be Told my first instinct was to only hire my friends. Because there’s first time showrunner, first time network, it was a little bit terrifying. And so I wanted people around me that I could trust. That meant those were people that I worked with before. My husband. Or writers that I knew in different ways. And so I had to tell myself do not fill this entire room with your friends. Someone gave you an opportunity 10 years ago, so you have to leave seats open at the table.
So you just have to be committed to it. And it was a little bit scary, because I didn’t know, oh my god, this person is going to come in and join the room and they’re not going to be able to take my jokes. Malcolm’s “fuck it” attitude. Whatever it is. And you just have to trust and be open. And if it doesn’t work you just cut bait.
Ayanna: Yeah. My first show was in 2000. It was a show called Gideon’s Crossing with Andre Braugher. Paul Attanasio created the show. Eric Overmyer was the showrunner. And I was a staff writer. And there was an upper level black female biracial woman, Samantha Corbin Miller, who actually looked out for me. So, one, I come from a family of black women and so camaraderie among black women comes natural to me, but also during my professional career like she shielded me. She would talk to the showrunner or talk to the creator and say, “Hey, she’s got a good pitch. Listen to her in the room.” So she would have those conversations so that I could speak. Because back in those days you really didn’t speak. You were just there to learn, right?
And so that spirit, you know, I’ve carried on every show, even when I’m the only one. So, I think it’s either in your to do that or it’s not. I don’t think it’s something, I mean, I guess you could teach it, but I don’t know.
Craig: Well, it seems like there’s a paying it forward thing kind of going here. Somebody does it for you and you feel obligated to do it for them. Liz, do you feel that way in any way, shape, or form in that regard?
Liz: I had a really interesting experience. I mean, I met a lot of – in television I met a lot of female showrunners because I did this sort of random female showrunner panel a year ago. And all of them really kept in touch with me. And I just feel like it’s also that I call them. So, that is the advice I would give. I ask them what I should do and what they think of the people that I’m going to work with. Or what they think of the people that I could work with or what I should do. And they coach me.
And so the group of people that you choose to surround yourself with regardless of gender, but in my case has been a group of women, is something that I will appreciate forever.
Craig: Great. All right. We’ve got some more questions here. Yes, you’re right here. You’re literally right here. It’s too easy. Go for it.
Male Audience Member: My name is Phillip. We’ve noticed in the movies that it’s more and more especially with the big movies they’re looking – producers and studios are looking at existing IPs to adapt. It feels like that trend is starting to creep into television. Obviously Falcon and Winter Soldier and Game of Thrones and now its spinoffs. Is that something that is tangible to you? I mean, do you see that growing?
Malcolm: This is something we talk about a lot. I think every – IPs are awesome. They help. But I also got – I got into the movie business just as it was just becoming obsessive. The idea that there used to be a spec market in features meant there was a market for fresh, original ideas. And that died. So they literally didn’t want them. It is definitely coming into TV. I unfortunately don’t think there’s any stopping it. If you look at – if you ask people their favorite shows, right, they’re going to say The Wire, Sopranos, Breaking Bad. All original ideas. I’m hoping.
And I think that’s quickly starting to be constricted. And with event television coming in, you know what I’m saying, it’s just going to accelerate. It doesn’t mean every show has to be an event show, but the idea that event television will be IP-driven will create a narrative that exacerbates it. So I think it’s a real concern. It’s unstoppable. And it will eventually have the same negative on TV that we’re all doing.
Liz: Is that a “fuck it?”
Craig: Yeah, so another lukewarm opinion from Malcolm Spellman. No, no, I mean, look, I kind of – the only thing I would disagree with is the volume at least right now, the volume of television is so remarkable that you can put things on the air that are just, I mean, the idea that Russian Doll. That’s a show that doesn’t exist in any other reality except this one right now. Where there’s room for something like that. That is so original.
Liz: It arguably exists in multiple realities.
Craig: Well, yes. Actually, that was the first possible example I could have used for a show that doesn’t exist in multiple – yes. But there is a lot of really original television that’s happening right now because there’s an enormous amount of room. Where I do agree with you is if that room should contract—
Malcolm: Which it—
Craig: OK, you and I have an agreement on this.
David Benioff: Yeah. But we’re in the Death Star trash compactor. And right now we’re at peak TV. We’ve got, what is it, 500 and something show being made in 2019.
Craig: Good lord. Wow.
David Benioff: But the walls are going to start closing in.
Craig: They will.
David Benioff: Because no one is making – a few people are making money, but not everyone is going to be making money off of 500 shows. Most of those shows are not going to be profitable. So someone is going to win, but a lot of people are going to lose. And 10 years from now what’s, you know, what’s it going to be? 200 shows? I don’t know. But it won’t be 500.
Craig: No. And I think when that happens the general tendency is to get safer. We know that. And so enjoy it while it’s lasting. It’s pretty cool right now.
David Benioff: And especially this goes back to Phillip’s original question is things are getting much more expensive. Television has gotten so expensive. And—
Craig: Was there one show that you think drove the price up? Just wondering. How about that, Mandel? Fuck you. I’ve still got it. [laughs] He’s fantastic. I’m amazed that Mandel is still awake, by the way. Usually he’s out like a light halfway through this thing.
David Benioff: But if you’re going to pitch something to a feature executive and it’s going to be a $300 million movie, it’s really hard now to do an original as you’re saying. It’s almost impossible. And it’s getting more like that with television, with the big budget television. Because if they’re going to invest this much money they want to believe there’s something out there, there’s some fan base out there, whether it’s a comic book, or a novel, or whatever it is. Which is exactly what it’s been for features for a long time.
Dan: Going back to that model, so I’m just trying to not romanticize the past. The movies that built us, or that built us, like Star Wars an original and Jaws was an adaptation. And The Godfather was IP. And The Wizard of Oz is IP. And Taxi Driver is an original. It’s a mixed bag down the line. I’m just not sure – and I understand that there’s a certain amount of self-interest in this response, because we’re here because of something that George Martin made. Like if he had not written those books we wouldn’t be sitting here on this panel with you.
But I just – on some level there is room for everything and the pendulum is going to swing one way or another. But I just think about the things that meant the most to me and lots of them came from other things.
Craig: That’s a good point.
David Mandel: I worry less about IP because it’s such a broad term. And I guess I’m less bothered by books than I am I guess videogames or something like that. So I guess to me not all IP is created equal.
David Mandel: Yeah, I know.
Dan: But there’s never been a great videogame movie.
Liz:Well, The Last of Us is excellent. Let’s calm down right now. In the defense of videogames, there is one great videogame that does exist.
David Mandel: There’s one great videogame, The Post. And it was really good. But, no, I was going to say—
Liz:It was so dope when Ben Bradley argued with Nixon.
Craig: Level 7 of The Post is impossible.
Liz:And you role played with him for so long.
David Mandel: But I do worry about, and I guess IP is a part of it, but I do worry as these brands, the streamers kind of retreat to their own stuff, which I know I’m not explaining it well. That’s my bigger I think fear.
Craig: You mean like Disney is just—
David Mandel: They’re so on brand that there’s not room for anything else. And then the other ones in response to that starting to feel a little bit like they’re also doing the same. Where you start to kind of hear the plans for things like the NBC/Universal one and it’s very I guess for lack of a better word NBC/Universal-ish.
Craig: On brand.
David Mandel: And part of that is the IP they own. But I do worry that that’s the conservativeness.
Dan: That’s what the studio system in the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s was.
David Mandel: It was. There were five. Gangster studio. Exactly. Romance studio. R-studio.
Dan: Where the Warners were tough. And MGM was family.
Liz:Well that’s what we’re going to now. I mean, and but like why – I guess I feel like repeating myself, but why are we still talking about this idea of something existing that—
David Mandel: You seem to think this conversation is dumb.
Liz:I do. I do. I do. I don’t think it’s dumb.
Craig: You said “I do” three times.
David Benioff: I do. I do. I don’t.
Craig: I do. I do. I do. I do.
Liz:But, no, I think it is dumb to predict or try to predict or try to anticipate what this industry is going to do. We have endured – or not even endured. Endured feels like something you put on your shoulders. But just witnessed a lot of changes in this industry in just five years. That’s five years of change.
Craig: So in five years from now, who the hell knows?
Liz:So in five years who knows what’s going to happen? So why?
David Mandel: I agree with that, but I will say the following. You’re right. I think sitting here worrying about it is crazy. I think sitting at home and worrying about it is crazy. And certainly you’ve got to make what you believe in. So I’m with you on every part of that. But I will also say that when Seinfeld ended, which would have been ’98, and the writers from Seinfeld we all kind of went out into development world to create television just as the networks all lobbied and changed the rules in Washington so that the networks could own their own programming. And television got really shitty for a couple of years. Comedy especially. Because why would I put on your show when I can put on your terrible show that I own 100% of.
And I think writers stood there smiling, not worrying about it to the point of basically self-flagellation. Where we have a tendency as creative types – and again I don’t know what to do it about it. And I’m not saying we should spend all our time on it. I do worry about these things because I think writers have a tendency to ignore some of these sometimes very big picture ideas that have created these monumental changes. I mean, you would go out and you would pitch and if you were at a place – like I had friends that were at DreamWorks that had no official affiliation at the time. You’d pitch and they’d go, “What do you like? Do you like this idea? We really like this idea. Who do you think should be in this? Michael J. Fox.” And they would literally go, “Well when you guys get Michael J. Fox, you call us.” Because no one was interested in anything they didn’t own unless it was extenuating circumstances.
And writers just sort of took it, just took those body blows. Anyway.
Craig: We’re going to squeeze in one more question. Is that OK? But obviously your question was shitty because nobody cared about it and we didn’t talk about it. Yeah, you’re right here so let’s go for it. Let’s finish it off with you.
David Mandel: Get up.
Male Audience Member: Avery like the ranch, white like the house. I wanted to know what your thoughts on when I have to vote for SAG Awards. So they send you these – speaking of binge watching. Yeah, the screeners that are like, man, you only have this amount of time. But the screeners, you know what I mean? So it’s like you can get stuck on one series and you’re technically like eliminating someone else without even really giving them the same amount of time.
Craig: Is your question how to vote for an award?
Male Audience Member: No, well, how do they feel about that window that we’re given, which is small.
Craig: So the larger question here if I may expand it to everybody that isn’t voting for SAG Awards.
Male Audience Member: Do it.
Craig: Thank you. Is – and I feel this all the time. I don’t know about you guys. But in this era now there is almost an anxiety. I cannot see everything I need to see, I want to see, I should see. Do we just have to deal with the fact that we can’t be completionists, I guess?
Craig: Yes. That was a yes or no question. Yeah. I think Ayanna answered that. It’s yes.
Liz: I didn’t watch—
Liz: I mean, I watched Succession. I didn’t watch Chernobyl. No, obviously not.
David Mandel: Depressing.
Liz: It’s really sad. God.
Craig: It blew up. What are you going to do?
Liz: No, I didn’t watch Succession until the beginning of Season 2. And then I binge-watched it to spite my husband, because he was watching it. And then I finished it and was like, holy shit, all of a sudden I realized what everybody was talking about. They don’t know and you don’t know what I’m talking about, but it’s fine.
And then the thing that I actually felt the most – there was a cultural shift that happens and Succession, Game of Thrones is that. Succession was that. The biggest cultural shift I felt personally with my friend group was Fleabag. And—
Craig: Say that again.
Craig: Fleabag, yeah. Of course.
Liz: I didn’t watch Fleabag Season 1 at the time it released. Fleabag Season 2 was coming out. Everybody was talking about it. And I was like, OK, I’ll watch Season 1. In all honesty I liked Season 1. I thought it was really good. I thought it was so well-written. Fleabag Season 2 is one of the most well-written things I’ve ever seen on television. Regardless of television, on screen, in all of it. And it was the thing I felt was culturally different in terms of being – at least for me, a woman – of what it was like to be around other women. Where every woman I was around was talking about Fleabag. And talking about what it was like to be in a relationship with a man like that. Or talking about what it was like to be in a relationship like that, regardless of gender.
So that was for me the most recent – I don’t remember the question. I’m sorry.
Craig: Well that was a good answer. Although “yes” was also a really good answer. I’ve got to say.
I think with that we’re all done. So, Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao. Yes. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week is by a person to be determined. If you have an outro out there you can send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s also the place where you can send longer questions.
For shorter questions on Twitter, I’m @clmazin, and John August is @johnaugust. Are you on Twitter? What is your Twitter thing?
Ayanna: Wait, my husband did it.
Craig: Oh boy.
Ayanna: It’s @qu33nofdrama but the two Es are two 3s.
Craig: What the fuck?
Ayanna: He’s a scientist.
Craig: OK. That doesn’t explain that actually. You’re not on Twitter?
David Benioff: Fuck no.
Craig: Well, good. You’re not on Twitter. Smart. Twitter?
Craig: @itslizhannah. Nichelle? Malcolm? No. Mandel?
David Mandel: @davidhmandel but all the Ds are Zs.
Craig: Professional comedian. You can find the show notes for this episode and all episodes at johnaugust.com. That’s also where you find the transcripts. We try and get them up about four days after the episode airs. You can find all the back episodes of the show at Scriptnotes.net. And you need to sign up there in order to use the Scriptnotes app for iOS or Android.
You can also download 50-episode seasons at store.johnaugust.com. And I get none of the money.
Austin, thank you so much for coming. I want to thank Ayanna Floyd. David Benioff. Dan Weiss. Liz Hannah. Nichelle Tramble. Malcolm Spellman. And David Mandel. And all the folks here at Austin. Thank you so much for coming and goodnight.
- Ayanna Floyd on Twitter and IMDB
- Liz Hannah on Twitter and IMDB
- Nichelle Tramble Spellman on IMDB
- Malcolm Spellman on IMDB
- David Mandel on Twitter and IMDB
- David Benioff on IMDB
- D.B. Weiss on IMDB
- John August on Twitter
- Craig Mazin on Twitter
- John on Instagram
- Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!)
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You can download the episode here.