Ryan Murphy is opening up about his experience in running Glee and Popular, but what he has to say may not sit well with more than a few people with whom he still may have to work. In a new interview, Mr. Murphy reveals that the WB network, which is the CW’s predecessor and the network on which Popular was first run, was managed by “very homophobic” executives. Requests to tone down Popular‘s gay components added more pressure for Ryan, as he now reveals.
Additionally, Murphy has criticized Glee’s stars for creating unnecessary problems behind the scenes. Could he be referring to the feud between Lea Michele and Naya Rivera?
Ryan Murphy Was Told To Make Popular Less Gay
In talking about Popular with Entertainment Weekly, it becomes readily apparent that Ryan felt underappreciated and misunderstood by the WB network executives with whom he had to work in order to keep Popular going. He says the execs didn’t understand his vision for the series from the beginning, constantly trying to force him to create something other than what he had envisioned.
Murphy adds that the executives were “very homophobic,” in spite of the fact that they did have gay characters in many of their shows. As Murphy implies with his interview, it seemed as though WB management felt they had met their quota of gay characters and wanted to limit any additional references to LGBTQ characters.
“They would give me notes, like, ‘The Mary Cherry character, like, could she be less gay?’ Like, it was very relentlessly homophobic,” explains Ryan Murphy. “It was rough and I didn’t have a good experience with the studio and everybody.”
Ryan says little was criticized in Popular‘s first season, but, as the show became a hit and was almost as well-liked as Roswell, the WB heads took a greater interest in what was going on in the series. In the beginning, Murphy was hopeful that the changes suggested by WB management would help push Popular toward becoming a greater hit, so he willingly made the requested changes. In the end, Popular was canceled after its second season, and Murphy felt like he had compromised his own integrity by complying with all of the demands.
“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,” Mr. Murphy shared.
Glee Was Also Difficult, But Only Because Sex And Conflict Ran Rampant Behind The Scenes
According to E! News, Ryan Murphy looks back at his early television endeavors with bittersweet emotions, because although he loved the creative freedom of developing a running TV series, battling network heads and cast infighting created a sort of a battlefield. Murphy felt the problems with his Glee cast were especially stressful because he had to deal with situations on a daily basis. The drama behind the scenes was often greater than the stories told for his Glee fans on screen.
“It was the best time in my life and the worst time in my life,” said Murphy. “There was a lot of infighting. There was a lot of people sleeping together and breaking up. It was good training for being a parent, I’ll tell you that much.”
Murphy partly blames himself, because he allowed the Glee cast and crew to become a family, which in turn created a situation that dissolved the employer/employee dynamic. The Glee boss says the situation worked well, until conflict arose. Any portion of drama would cause Murphy to react emotionally, because he felt personally affected by the trouble.
“What started off as being such a great celebration of love and acceptance ultimately became about darkness and death… It was a great lesson in what not to do moving forward,” Mr. Murphy says of his Glee cast. “And many of them are my good friends to this day.”
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]