Ryan Murphy is one of the biggest titans in television right now, and can pretty much get any show made exactly how he envisions it.
But that definitely wasn’t the case over a decade ago, when the producer sold his first TV series to The WB (pre CW) and had an extremely “miserable experience”!
Before the days of Glee and American Horror Story, Murphy had pitched his high school dramedy series Popular — about an awkward high school girl forced to live with a popular cheerleader after their parents get engaged — to different networks and “ended up going with The WB.”
Though the series became a cult hit after only two seasons from 1999 to 2001, the writer blames constant battles he had with network executives on the show’s cancellation.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the 50-year-old said he wasn’t a fan of working with the “relentlessly homophobic” executives who suggested he make his characters “less gay,” confessing:
“They never got me and they kept trying to turn me into something else. And they were very homophobic even though they would have gay characters on the air… They would give me notes, like, ‘The Mary Cherry character, like, could she be less gay?’ Like, it was very relentlessly homophobic. It was rough and I didn’t have a good experience with the studio and everybody.”
Wow, that sounds like a real horror story!
While Murphy admits the show didn’t progress how he wanted to, he still took away a lot from creating Popular — and that’s “follow your gut”!
“You know in the first year they really left me alone and they hadn’t meddled with me yet, and in the second year it was like us and Roswell and they thought it could be a hit. So I remember getting notes, like, ├óΓé¼╦£Can this character get cancer?’ I’m like, ├óΓé¼╦£OK.’ But I wanted it to work so I did the notes and thus I ended up jeopardizing my own sensibility and it got cancelled after year two. But it was a really important experience for me because what I learned is follow your gut, listen to your voice, and if they don’t want your voice, they don’t want you.”
Thankfully these days, the world of television is exponentially more accepting and striving to tell more diverse stories with unique characters.
But it definitely wouldn’t be that way if it weren’t for pioneers like the man who would one day bring us Scream Queens!
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]