When I wrote the HBO-skeptical section of my last post, I hadn’t yet seen the news that HBO will be doing a half-hour comedy starring Diane Keaton and created by Marti Noxon. There’s something strangely apropos about the teaming of cinema’s most neurotically self-indulgent star and TV’s most neurotically self-indulgent showrunner, but it doesn’t fill me with great anticipation.
The show appears to be HBO’s attempt to get back the Sex and the City demographic, though the premise — an aging feminist pioneer vaguely based on Gloria Steinem tries to start a sexy-yet-empowering magazine — sounds like Just Shoot Me with nude pictures and an older version of Laura San Giacomo. But the network has been on the lookout for another show that can have its cake and eat it too the way Sex did, providing sexually-frank material with a feminist veneer, so maybe this will be it. It’s a reminder that HBO’s programming choices are often, in their own way, as cynically and obviously calculated as any of the broadcast networks’; it’s just that the calculations are different and the formulas are a bit different.
And no offense meant to Diane Keaton fans; I’m one of those who finds it difficult to like her acting style (and I always have, even in her ’70s prime), but that’s personal taste. (I do feel a great kinship with her character in Manhattan, because when she tells Woody Allen that his hated lowbrow sitcom is “brilliantly funny,” she’s pretty much me.) On the other hand, offended Marti Noxon fans can lump it.