Ellen Rapoport interview: ‘Minx’ creator
The HBO Max comedy “Minx” is about more than just the creation of a feminist porn magazine in 1970s California. It’s also about oppositional ideologies. Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), the earnest Minx magazine editor, feels it’s her job to make the world a better place. Meanwhile, Doug (Jake Johnson), the periodical’s cynical publisher, knows better than to even ask so much of society.
“I think that it’s this kind of age-old conflict between the people who become artists to kind of spread their message and the people who are financing them,” creator Ellen Rapoport says about her show in an exclusive video interview . “It happens in all of our lives – we’re always beholden to the person who makes money and your art will no longer exist if it isn’t reaching a broad number of people. So it just felt like this very timely thing to talk about.” She joined our Gold Derby “Meet the Experts” panel for showrunners.
That push-pull between Joyce and Doug makes up the central conflict of “Minx” Season 1. Throughout the 10 episodes, Joyce tries to keep Minx on message, while Doug attempts to make it a profitable business. “I think I started out life as a Joyce. And I think as I’ve gotten older and wiser I’ve become a Doug, frankly,” Rapoport says when asked which character she found herself siding with most often. “I think I was, at least last season, the voice of Doug in the writers’ room.”
That position sometimes put Rapoport on the defensive, she jokes – particularly while the “Minx” team was working on the show’s eighth episode, where Doug oversteps with Joyce during an interview with Dick Cavett and all but ruins their working relationship. “Before we wrote the Dick Cavett episode, we all watched Susan Brown Miller, on Dick Cavett, debating Hugh Hefner. And at the end, I think I said what a good job Hugh Hefner did,” Rapoport says during our Meet the Experts: Showrunners panel. “And literally people booed me [in the room]. Because everyone hated him so much…. I’ve come to the other side. I really do see both sides of it.”
Rapoport’s balanced view of the world is one of the reasons “Minx” struck a chord with viewers and critics this year. The show, which HBO Max renewed for a second season, brought people together in ways its creator never envisioned.
“I’ve heard about mothers and daughters watching it together, which is so nice. We’re like uniting generations,” she says. “What I think is also cool is that I’m told a lot of men are watching it too – which I think is nice to be able to do a show about feminism that isn’t alienating an entire gender. That we’re able to kind of talk about these ideas in a nuanced way.”
Rapoport says she wasn’t surprised men responded to “Minx” – this despite its casual and frequent depiction of male nudity – because male test audiences gave the pilot episode high marks. “I think that they appreciated living in the ‘70s at a time when you could have conversation without the fear of saying something that offends someone,” she says of the men who comprised the test audience. She says the men also appreciated that Johnson’s character was not shown as a slob or pervert who was designed to get taken down a peg by the female characters. “I think they appreciated having a more nuanced portrayal of a man that I think some people feel like is lacking, I guess, in their entertainment.”
“Minx” ended its first season with Doug giving Joyce ownership of her publication, and Rapoport says Season 2 will pick up with the consequences of that action
“We’re really making an effort not to reset them and not to just make it the same thing again, where it’s just a bunch of underdogs against the world,” she says of the progress made thus far on Season 2. “I think we’re trying to be interesting and different and cool. And it all feels even more serialized because we have less world-building to do this season.”
All episodes of “Minx” Season 1 are streaming on HBO Max.