Last week kicked off with Two and a Half Men creator Lee Aronsohn‘s declaration that, in terms of raunchy comedies starring women on television, “Enough ladies. I get it. You have periods…we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.” So it’s wonderfully refreshing to hear Judd Apatow, when asked about his recent projects that star and are about women, and about the female comedy boom, say:
I got bored of penises. I said, ‘enough of that.’ No, I just like immaturity, I like to show people struggle and try to figure out who they are. I’m a guy and so it leaned guy for a while. But one of the projects I’m most proud of is Freaks and Geeks, which is about a woman in high school struggling to figure out which group she wants to belong to, so for me, it goes back and forth…It’s just because it’s a single camera show and we’re on HBO and it’s uncensored. There are limitations when you’re doing a sitcom, in terms of language and how long you have to tell a story. But we’re big fans of all of those shows. My friend Jake Kasdan, who produced Freaks and Geeks, is one of the producers on New Girl and we’re all obsessed.
It’s always funny to me that anyone would remember Freaks and Geeks as anything other than a show with male and female co-main characters. I suppose that has something to do with the fact that Linda Cardellini’s subsequent career been much, much quieter than that of almost any actor with a significant role on the show. John Francis Daley’s on Bones and has launched a successful screenwriting career. Seth Rogen and Jason Segel have morphed from manboys to heartthrobs. James Franco is James Franco.
Given how much time men and women devote to figuring out each other’s behavior and motivations—and how they should tailor their behavior in response—in real life, it’s always struck me as bizarre to assume that men would only want to watch stories about men or that women would only want to watch stories about women. Apatow’s curiosity shouldn’t seem so refreshing and logical. But in the world we live in, he’s practically a beacon of sanity.