Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Letter to Head of Original Content Development, Netflix

Greetings, Ms. Wolarsky,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a loyal Netflix subscriber and have been for many years. My partner Patricia used to work as a Sales manager for Pitney Bowes in the Bay Area in the late 1990s; she fondly remembers one of her early customers called Netflix, based in a small location in Los Gatos, that needed shipping equipment to send DVD envelopes to customers. When she told me about it at that time, I remember thinking, “Geez, that seems wildly inefficient; what if we could watch movies over the internet?” And indeed here we are some 20 years later! I have come to thoroughly enjoy Netflix and its eclectic offerings; from the documentaries to the sleeper movies to the BBC series to the Netflix originals.

The purpose of my email, however, is to register a complaint and express my dissatisfaction regarding the decision to cancel the Netflix original series “Gypsy.” I understand that as an original content provider, you’ve got to make tough choices regarding where to invest. But in my mind, it’s a poor business decision to commit to a series and then pull the plug after only one season. It has alienated your loyal subscribers who truly found the series to be a compelling work with thematic and artistic merit. It seems amateurish for a streaming platform to cut the cord when clearly the narrative arc had not been allowed to evolve. I can't imagine any other platform, cable channel or network behaving with such disrespect towards its own properties.

I imagine that the decision makers were swayed by the negative reviews; but let me assure you that there is a broad and growing fan base of Gypsy that might surprise you. And, not all the reviews were poor; EW, an influential entertainment site, rated it a "B+".


I can only imagine the devastation that Lisa Rubin and the cast & crew experienced with the cancellation.  It seems questionable to me that many other fledgling series were greenlit for additional seasons (for example, “Friends from College,” an abysmally boring show), and yet Gypsy was yanked after only one. Often, artistic vision takes time to evolve and unfold gradually. I would strongly argue that the themes of Gypsy are contemporary and compelling and warrant further exploration. I say this especially as a woman and as a member of the LGBTQ community; we need to explore these ideas through our artistic expressions as an aspect of our culture and our shared humanity.

I am quite sure that there are many factors that must be considered when renewing a series for another season (factors that I can’t imagine). I would exhort you to strongly consider these factors within the context of a business decision. Yes, there is risk in greenlighting Gypsy for further development; but I can assure you that there also is upside. As an original content provider, I’m sure you are obsessed with the content funnel. Why dismiss Gypsy? Why not see it as a fledgling property that could be resuscitated with some competent script doctors? I believe strongly that the raw material for a compelling season 2 exists for Gypsy, and that it just needs an investment from the platform that launched it. Consider it a challenge to knock the critics on their respective asses by renewing Gypsy, investing it, and also promoting it. If Netflix has business executives like other aggressive leaders in the business community, you thrive on a challenge and are not likely to shrink from long odds.

Please, to those of you in charge of original content development: consider your loyal subscriber base. It's more than just an analytics game. If the viewership numbers of Gypsy were low, I think Netflix ought to take ownership of that issue and ask why. Where was the promotional campaign for Gypsy? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; if a show isn't promoted, the buzz among subscribers hasn't a chance to build or flourish.

And just as importantly, consider the careers of the creators and cast, knowing that many of these people are the fledgling talent that may someday fill your pipeline for future material. As a provider of original content, please don’t dismiss the talent at your disposal. Instead, offer young talent a platform for growth and evolution, all for the ultimate goal of broadening and deepening your original content portfolio. It seems frightfully disrespectful of a young talent such as Lisa Rubin to just dismiss outright her creative expression. Is there misogyny at foot here? Is there exploitation of her lack of power as a fledgling artist? Did she stand her ground and refuse to suck someone's dick on the casting couch for a season 2 greenlight? It's rather disturbing to ponder and it's truly upsetting.

Don't disregard the original content at your disposal. Otherwise, other platforms might pick it up. I'm imagining HBO could pick it up as an expansion to "Big Little Lies"; Sid and Jean move to Monterey. Jean becomes the new resident therapist in Monterey .... Dolly is enrolled at the local public school ... Sid becomes the other "cool" mom, volunteering at her school to teach music .... the possibilities are endless for creative expansion of this raw material. But you've got to seize the opportunity. (Oh, also, Sophie Cookson is gonna have Hollywood by the balls in 5 years ... you'll be forever sorry if you neglect content that she starred in.)

Thank you for taking the time to read this email, Ms. Wolarsky; and thank you for considering my plea. I’m quite sure that you’ll hear from other loyal subscribers with the same exhortation.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Sarah Leritz-Higgins

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sid Appreciation Week

The following stills from the Netflix original "Gypsy" were posted on my Twitter feed (@sleritz) during #SidAppreciationWeek (Sept. 17 - 23, 2017). These are roughly chronological as the episodes progress. (Accompanying captions mine.)

Wanted: Barista at the "Rabbit Hole"

Audacious flirt; "...it's actually kinda hot."

Sid can barely contain her delight when Diane visits the Rabbit Hole.

Sid is a human emoji; her emotions shine right through; Diane arrives, she's thrilled!

Sid; only she can make tank top, apron & ratty sweatshirt look hot.

Sid; detects lame pick-up lines when she hears them. "Have you always been into coffee?" "It's a job."

Sid; aglow in stage presence; audience transfixed! (particularly Diane)

Sid beyond thrilled that Diane came to the show (but trying to stay cool).

Typical lesbian first date; revealing intimate family details and getting deep; referring to "subtext."

Sid; Rachel Weisz's doppelganger. (Damn these Brits are gorgeous!)

With a twist of hair, Sid gently inserts her tentacles into Diane. Neither will ever be the same.

Sid; the object of fantasy for SO many (Sam, Jean, Twitterverse ...)

Sid wears her emotions on her sleeve; surprised and delighted when Diane arrives at Bushwick popup.

Sid starts to get a sense of what she's dealing with; "Maybe that's what I want you to see," Diane says to her.

Sid rocks the party in tiger-striped t-shirt & shorts (and is the sexiest one there).

It's easy to tell what Sid's thinking when she stares at Diane; "I'm gonna kiss you soon."

Occasionally daring with the eye make-up.

The closer she is to Diane, the better she feels; Sid is completely obsessed.

Sid's attraction to Diane is boundless; it's like a magnetic force.
Sometimes, Sid's impulsiveness rubs Diane the wrong way; Diane flees.

Sid can't wait to snuggle under the covers at the movies with Diane.

Sid is inclined to run in 2" heeled boots; high on adrenaline after her date with Diane.

Of course, for Sid the Millennial, "we're not doing anything wrong" and "nobody gives a shit."

Sid assures Diane that it's "OK" that she's a "lesbian virgin."

Sid keeps appearing in Diane's dreams ...

Sid doesn't care if it's impolite to ask a woman her age; "38? or 40? 45?"
As Sid describes her girl crush on her teacher, it's apparent that Sid has obsessive tendencies. "Madly in love."
(Alternate caption: Sid is a master of Millennial parlance: "chill" and "you only live once.")

Sid is so touched by Diane's thoughtful gift; literally and symbolically, a flame.

Sid is keenly insightful; she contradicts Diane's claim of normalcy as "secretly dysfunctional."

Sid; lead singer of the Vagabonds. Love child of Janis Joplin and Pasty Cline.

Sid launches fashion trend of over-sized sweaters hanging down at the elbows.

Sid has just about had it with the cat-and-mouse game; she antagonizes Diane by suggesting to her that "...she's not into women" and that she might want to hook up with Francis.

Sid digs the dagger in deeper by telling Diane that she and Sam "ended up fucking just like old times."
(Alternate commentary: Sid rocks the British accent; go on, you can hear it, "scared little girl" (no R))

Sid's occasionally speechless; utterly floored that Diane had the balls to go in for the kiss.

Sid ditches her shift to rendezvous with Diane at the Rubin for an afternoon delight.

Sid is suspicious of Diane's "plans and backup plans" speech; she doesn't see Diane practicing what she preaches.

Sid assures Diane that they'll all eventually fuck off.

Sid's tenderness and compassion emerge when Diane needs it most. There's no doubt how much Sid cares for her.

Sid is unafraid to stare at Diane with unabashed lust.

Sid is handy with the double entendre; asks Diane if she "likes new things."

Sid likes to be in charge; she takes Diane by the hand to bring her to her sex lair.

Sid's not too interested in Hostessing 101; she's more interested in circling her prey.

As is often the case with two women, before the sex there's emotional intimacy (i.e., talking and sharing).

Sid masters the art of seduction with a slow dance; bewitching.

Ever the horn dog, Sid can't help but give Diane the "I want to fuck you" up-and-down stare.

Sid enjoys a slow dance as long as it eventually leads to a kiss.
Sid loves being told what to do (especially if it involves removing clothing).

Sid is kinda a tease; she interrupts a hot and heavy session to get high (worthy endeavor, though).

Sid espouses the benefits of "Blue Dream": inspiration and mind-opening (and, the best orgasms).
Sid; an expert at the shotgun kiss.

Sid, at the mercy of all her appetites, gets the munchies and of course orders pizza.

Sid characterizes Diane's Blue Dream-inspired contemplation with one word: "Deep."

Sid wants to know, "Does that turn you on?" Knowledge she may use later ...

Sid is visibly aroused and turned on. The human body remarkably manifests our emotional state. 

Sid takes on the butch role by servicing Diane; an astonishing level of intimacy for their first interlude.
Sid don't care where; anyplace (such as the store room) is a great place for some sugar.

Sid totally buys into the road trip fantasy; she hasn't a clue that she's being played.

Sid invents a new form of conversation; insert passionate kiss between sentences.

Sid rocks the Millennial parlance; she insults a co-worker with the line "suck my dick."

Sid is always contemplating her next move on how to get closer to Diane.

Sid has a devious streak; she tells Diane she deleted the photo, and then later posts it to Instagram.
Sid can't believe how adept Diane is at resisting her charms.
Sid is a master of little white lies; this is her "in the bath," chatting on the phone with Diane.
(Alternate caption: Modern day dating; sending each other selfies and arranging for the next hook up.)

Sid deprives Diane of watching her solo session; Diane's desire for her is visceral, evoking an immediate "oh god."

Sid's urgency for Diane is unmatched.
Sid begins to detect that Diane is distancing herself.

Sid makes an impulsive trip to Darien just to briefly talk to Diane; she can feel her pulling away and she's devastated.
On the train home from Darien, just getting a text from Diane perks her up.

Enjoying yet another ALLLMOST kiss, Sid has no idea that Diane is planning to disentangle herself from Sid.
In a bizarre twist, Diane convinces Sid that it's a good idea to crash Sam's engagement party.
Sid knows Diane is up to something, but she can't quite put her finger on what.
Sid enjoys the idea of having a dog rather than actually having a dog (which requires her to walk her).
Sid's unafraid to stalk you on LinkedIn, show up at your office, and interrogate you.