Thursday night saw the premiere of Lifetime's new couch-yakking talk show, The Conversation. (And no, there was no sign of Gene Hackman.) The show is a passion project of host Amanda de Cadenet, a British photographer and former actress (and wife of Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi), who filmed most of the conversations from her own home. The show is a platform for women to engage in honest, substantial dialogue, with guests ranging from nineteen-year-old Miley Cyrus to seventy-four-year-old Jane Fonda.
During her segment, Sarah Silverman spoke to issues of female empowerment, and how women often compromise themselves for the sake of relationships. Having paid her dues as a "female" comedian, Silverman knows from condescension, and the false outrage over "vagina" humor. Admitting to watching empty-calorie TV shows like The Bachelor, Silverman opined that that particular show is "offensive" and degrading to women. She said:
"I'll tell you what's offensive about these shows… that are on ABC during prime time. Twenty-five women in JCPenney prom dresses, fully grown, going, 'He took us to a castle!' No he didn't. Producers procured a castle. And there's twenty-five of you — that's how special you aren't."
Dilating on how values get distorted in the quest for almighty ratings, Silverman cautioned:
"I think, 'Wow, some young girl is watching this, and there should be a warning saying this is not acceptable behavior.' The biggest thing that a woman should realize is that there is not just one slot for a woman in any given thing. I think that's something that society, men and women both, have enforced. It's in the ether that one woman's success can only come at another woman's failure."
Silverman obviously makes good points, and women's success shouldn't be a zero-sum game, but, unfortunately, watching dysfunction on television is fun, whether it's watching people elude creditors behind a facade of wealth, or connive to "win" a romantic object of affection. Still, it's helpful for public figures like Silverman to point out that it's unbecoming for young girls to emulate those who sell out and attempt to force "true love."