We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense
Fans of Kevin Smith’s various podcasts have been hearing about a new show in development on AMC for a few months now. The show’s producers reached out to Smith for some input on some more comic-based programming thanks to the success of The Walking Dead. When the idea of a reality show in a comic shop was tossed out, the execs dug it. The plan was to find a store to shoot in, but once Smith suggested they shoot a test in his own store, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, the powers that be knew their search was over. It makes sense. The cast of “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave” is the perfect fit for a show about life in a comic shop. There’s probably no cast of characters better than Walt, Bryan, Mike and Ming to deliver the type of show AMC was looking for. Listen to an episode of the podcast, and you’ll likely agree.
After store manager Walt Flanagan was convinced to do the show, The Secret Stash had a casting call for a female cast member over the summer. They found, according to Kevin Smith himself, “the perfect girl.” The pilot was shot and very well received, so much so that it was decided the show would debut after The Walking Dead when it returned from its mid-season break. Before it debuts, though, the show will have undergone two key changes from its original form. First, the female character has been removed from the pilot (and therefore the six-episode series). Second, the name of the show is now Comic Book Men. Oh, AMC… What have you done?
I’m sure the AMC execs didn’t think it was a big deal. It’s show business. Things get changed and moved around all the time. Characters are excised and combined. Plots are rewritten. Pilots can be reshot. Names can be changed. You can even have two Darrens and no one will even notice. What’s the harm in making some changes to this show before it ever goes on air? Google “Women in comics.” Not a single headline reads “It’s all good.” While there are certainly some valid arguments among the hysteria, fangirl rage comes in flare-ups for which there is no Valtrex. It’s been a couple of weeks since the announcement and I’ve personally seen at least three separate cases of fangirls going on the attack online for removing the girl from the show.
Now, I’m not defending the decision to take the girl out of the show. I’m certainly not defending the name. It’s awful. I guess they were going for some brand continuity to go along with Mad Men, but Comic Book Men is a pretty terrible name. Even “Comic Book Guys” would be better. It’s not like they called The Walking Dead “Shuffling Dead Men.” And I’m certainly not discrediting the feelings of anyone upset at the female voice being removed from the show. What I do think is a little nuts is that all of the noise I’ve seen has been folks (mostly female) going off on Kevin Smith, (or worse, Bryan and Walt) often very aggressively, over a decision he (they) had no control over. Odds are Smith will get a producer credit, but it’s still not his show. Walt didn’t want to do the podcast initially, let alone a TV show. He even opted out of the press tour. The decision to focus on the guys who work at the store came down from the suits in charge, yet Smith and co. are being subjected to a witch hunt via the internet. And I’m not saying that as a fan of these guys or their podcasts. I’m saying this as a person with some idea as to how the TV/entertainment business works.
Unless I’ve missed it, the girl who was actually cast and then removed hasn’t made a stink about it (probably because she’s a professional). If she’s cool with it, I’m cool with it. But these are the same people that lost their minds a few months ago because fictional characters were having too much sex, so of course they were going to get at least half as upset when something happened to someone in real life.
I’m looking forward to Comic Book Men, despite its awful title, when it debuts in a couple of weeks. I do worry about the immediate backlash from the internet when it comes out because that girl still isn’t going to be on it. Never mind that it’s been publicly said they’ll likely bring her back for season 2. If it’s good, I hope it sticks around for awhile. I just hope the negative publicity doesn’t come to haunt it. I just know that no matter how good or bad the show is, I’ll be reading all over again about how they cast a girl and then took her off the day after it airs. That’s kind of a drag and reeks of “this is why we can’t have nice things.” If you’re incensed by that move, fine. Just direct it at the right place. I doubt very much that removing the girl from the show was a calculated move made by the studio to get a dig in at women. Having not seen the show, I have to say it’s not a decision I agree with, but that’s the nature of the beast. Even Smith was way behind her. I’m confident the people who are still involved will make some pretty fun TV. I just hope some of the scorned can give it an honest shot.