Hello hello! Saturday is here and this month is just flying by! Today we have Jayne Denker – a first time ALBTALBS guest! We’ve chatted on twitter about TV and such, and that inspired her to write a post about that topic! … Kinda 😉 So without further ado … Jayne!
Chick Lit: You Cannot Kill It (But Why Would You Want To?)
I’m a “contemporary romance” writer, but whenever I can get away with it, I write chick lit. Not out in the open, though, because the official party line is chick lit is dead. Stone cold. Six feet under and pushing up daisies. Nobody wants to read stories about young or young-thinking, strong women making their way in the world!
Yeah, all right. *wink*
Oh, the entertainment industry did believe it drove a stake through chick lit’s heart a while back. Well, first they created the monster by encouraging it to flourish in the ’90s, in the wake of Bridget Jones’s Diary. Then came the dark days, when the entertainment industry (yes, book publishing, but mostly I’m looking at you, Hollywood) threw gobs of money at anything remotely resembling chick lit. Even the bad stuff.
And lo, the dark days spread and overwhelmed the earth.
Horrified at what a Frankenstein monster chick lit had become, the publishing world and Hollywood rose up against it and killed off their own creation. Never again, they said, shall the beast that is chick lit be allowed to propagate. Yea, those who speak its name shall be put to death.
And so the edict stands. The foul term “c***k l*t” is no longer uttered. No, really. Try it—I dare you. You’ll see. You’ll end up with the business end of a stiletto in your temple.
However, as with all good sagas, forbidding something doesn’t mean you can kill it off entirely. Come on, we all know that chick lit is about as unstoppable as a zombie that’s scented freshly-exposed brain matter. Better yet, let’s call it the hydra genre of literature—chop off its head, and it grows two more. Ooh! Ooh! How about the Obi-Wan Kenobi genre? Strike it down, and it becomes more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
Yeah, that’s it: Chick lit is the Zombie-Hydra-Obi-Wan-Kenobi genre. You just can’t kill it, It’s not hiding in a dark cave, Gollum-like, either. (Why yes, I am the equivalent of a pop-culture-reference oil spill. Proudly mixing memes since 1978.) That so-called forbidden chick lit is actually all around us. Right now. And you probably don’t even know it!
Because the publishing industry still considers chick lit The Genre That Shall Not Be Named, now we call it “romantic comedy.” Kind of like how Blackwater gets a new name every couple of years, in the hopes that everyone forgets what it was responsible for back in the Aughts. It works, too. Who doesn’t like romantic comedies, right? Sometimes it’s called women’s fiction, although I always think of WF as a bit more serious overall. Could just be me, though.
Chick flicks are still verboten, and with good reason. Wow, there were some real stinkers at the end there, weren’t there? Phew, the memories are still polluting the joint! But the genre is still in Hollywood, and not lurking in dark alleys off Sunset, either. Nope, “visual chick lit” is operating right out in the open. What, you go to the multiplex in search of a decent romcom, only to end up drowning in the glut of superhero flicks? You’re right. So think smaller.
I’m talking TV, people. It’s all over the small screen. And it’s popular! A young (or, hey, not so young—the genre is nothing if not elastic), single woman struggling with the challenges of getting her career rolling, navigating the social scene, hanging with her besties, trying to find a guy who’s not a total cretin? Oh, it’s there, baby.
It’s always been there, really. I could go into the history of young-female-centric TV shows down through the ages (I’m old enough to remember That Girl and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, although *koff* I was a mere zygote at the time), but if I got that thorough, I’d end up writing a thesis—or a book—instead of a blog post. Ain’t nobody got time for that—wait. Come to think of it…dibs on the history of chick lit! Called it!
TV’s recent history has been filled with chick-lit-type shows. I don’t care that Lorelai Gilmore had a teen daughter; there’s chick lit at the bottom of that Luke’s Diner coffee cup. Ally McBeal? 30 Rock? Durr. And those four women in New York…what was that show called, again? (I keed, I keed.)
Best of all, there’s been a huge resurgence of chick lit on TV, like, right now. The Mindy Project. Hart of Dixie. New Girl. Girls. 2 Broke Girls. Young & Hungry. I’d even throw in The Mysteries of Laura, although it’s mainly a detective procedural. And Parks and Recreation, even though it’s an ensemble comedy, because Amy Poehler.
Then there’s the queen mother of all current chick-lit-on-TV: Jane the Virgin. Have you seen it? (If you haven’t, there’s the door. Go forth and do not return until you’ve caught up with all the eps. Most of them are on The CW site and Hulu. I don’t care how you get them—just go! Go now!) Sure, the premise put people off—a young woman, who was “saving herself” till her wedding to her detective fiancé, is accidentally artificially inseminated and is now carrying the baby of a guy she had a crush on five years before—but it works. Seriously. Not kidding. It’s crazy-funny (if you don’t laugh out loud at Jane’s goofy estranged father, somebody’d better check your pulse) and it also has heart. You find yourself pulling for Jane as she tries to figure out who she is and where she’s going in life. Best of all, she wants to be a romance writer!
Of course, not every chick lit-flavored show escaped the wildly swinging Cancellation Axe of Doom. RIP A to Z, Carrie Diaries, and Selfie. (*Sob!* Selfie!) But thanks to the hydra effect (ooh, that’d make a great title—dibs on that too), we’re getting more soon, including The Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, and Younger. I’m sure there are more; it’s just difficult to keep up with the onslaught.
Onslaught is good. It means that no matter what you call it, quality entertainment featuring laughs, good plots, and clever women is always in style.
About the Author: Jayne Denker divides her time between working hard to bring the funny in her romantic comedies and raising a young son who’s way too clever for his own good. She has published four rom coms with Kensington (and another is on the way). Jayne lives in a small village in western New York that is in no way, shape, or form related to the small village in her Marsden novels Down on Love and Picture This. When she’s not hard at work on another novel, the social media addict can usually be found frittering away startling amounts of time on Facebook (Jayne Denker Author) and Twitter (@JDenkerAuthor). She’d like to say she updates her website, quite often, but most of the time when it crosses her mind, she shouts “Can’t you see I’m writing?!” and puts it off till another day. But you can find links to all my books there.
Hey, One of My Books Is on Sale:
I got away with writing pure chick lit once. It’s a Hollywood-set romcom called Unscripted, and it’s on sale for 99 cents for the entire month of December. Here’s the info:
Faith “Freakin’” Sinclair probably shouldn’t have called her boss a perv…or grabbed his “privates.” But as creator of the hit dramedy Modern Women, she’d had enough of his sexist insults. Now she’s untouchable in the industry—not in a good way. The only way to redeem herself is to convince Alex, the wildly popular, wildly demanding former star of her show, to come back. But there’s one obstacle in her way—one very handsome, broad-shouldered obstacle…
Professor Mason Mitchell is head of the theater department where Alex is studying “real” acting. The only way he’ll let Faith anywhere near Alex is if she agrees to co-teach a class. It’s an offer she can’t refuse—and as it turns out, the professor just might end up teaching Faith that there’s more to life than work—and that real-life love scenes are way more fun than fake ones….
What do you think? About chick lit? Or “chick lit”? Or any of those shows on TV? 😀