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The Female Gaze and Voice Carry Amazon’s ‘I Love Dick’

Where to Stream

I Love Dick

The Emmy Awards won’t be handed out until September 17th, but Emmy Award campaigns are already in full effect as shows gather their talent at events to remind TV Academy voters about the overabundance of goodness on their TV screens. It’s never too early to campaign, even for new shows. Last night in Los Angeles, Amazon Studios featured Jill Soloway and Sarah Gubbins’s new comedy I Love Dick as part of their For Your Consideration event series.

Amazon Studios is taking their Emmy campaign efforts to new lengths with a two-week takeover of the Hollywood Athletic Club, styling the entire two story space with props and costumes from their original series including The Man in the High Castle, Goliath, Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, Z: The Beginning of Everything, Catastrophe, and Bosch. Amazon is also doing FYC panels featuring talent from the shows and at the I Love Dick panel, executive producers Jill Soloway and Sarah Gubbins and cast members Kathryn Hahn, Kevin Bacon, Griffin Dunne, Roberta Colindrez talked about making the very unusual show. Academy voters got an early look at the first two episodes of the show and a short “making of” video featuring the I Love Dick writers and cast.

Based on Chris Kraus’s book of the same name, Sarah Gubbins explained what made Kraus’s book good fodder for television even though it’s written as a series of letters, which isn’t particularly visual, “There’s nothing else like it. It’s ferocious. It’s about a woman coming into her own. What does that look like? Chris Kraus traverses in honesty in her novel. She was happy to give Chris Kraus (the character) to us.” Jill Soloway added that she was compelled to direct the pilot episode because “Sarah wrote a beautiful pilot and I really wanted to shoot it. It’s the invention of the female gaze in literature. Chris (the character) is a little f–ked up, she’s a mess. I think of the hero’s journey as going up a mountain, the heroine’s journey is going up the mountain by going around, and here, the heroine is circling the drain.”

One of the ground-breaking keys to the unique show is that it features an all-female writer’s room including Sarah Gubbins, Heidi Schreck, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Annie Baker, Dara Creasey, Carla Ching, Esti Giordani, and Diona Reasonover. Soloway said, “It was easy to do. All the women got loose really fast in the room. Most of them had been the sole women in the room before.”

Kathryn Hahn plays Chris Kraus, the female filmmaker who travels to Marfa, Texas with her husband Sylvere, a Holocaust scholar, and becomes obsessed with an artist named Dick Jarrett. Hahn shared, “I kept thinking of Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters and that little bit of madness when you become obsessed with something. What I loved is that there’s no apology, shame or guilt attached to it.”

Kevin Bacon, who plays the titular Dick, observed about the show, “It’s a new look at television and storytelling. The all-female writers room created two of the best, most well-rounded, complex male characters I’ve ever seen [in Dick and Griffin Dunne’s Sylvere.] It took me awhile to come around to Jill’s hippy-dippy style, but my brilliant wife (Kyra Sedgwick) said to me ‘keep your heart open.’ This is weird, edgy, challenging, sexy, funny, and definitely out of the box. It’s amazing as an actor.”

Photo: Getty Images for Amazon Studios

Soloway is also thrilled to feature the work of female visual artists, painters, and musicians who have not had much exposure to a wider television audience. For example, music supervisor Bruce Gilbert, who also works on Transparent and is Soloway’s ex-husband, chose the music of late singer-songwriter Lhasa de Sela for much of season one. Soloway commented, “We used TV as a holder for other people’s work, incorporating other artist’s works.”

What should you expect when you watch I Love Dick? Art, sex, desert landscapes, and a whole lot of the female gaze. It’s all part of Soloway’s continuing mission to topple the patriarchy – remember, her production company is named Topple. Soloway said her Emmy submission for directing is an episode about “women witnessing moments in their lives when they’re disconnected from their bodies and from their sexuality. It’s a crazy longshot.” Which is also a succinct summation about this unique, bold series.

The I Love Dick pilot is streaming now and the series streams May 12th on Amazon Video.

Stream the I Love Dick pilot on Prime Video

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