Following Adult Swim creative director Mike Lazzo’s comments earlier this year about why there aren’t more women in the writing room on various shows, actor Brett Gelman (Kroll Show, The League, Drunk History) announced yesterday that he was cutting ties with the network. Today, Adult Swim programming director Kim Manning spoke out about Gelman’s departure and addressed allegations that the network was a hostile work environment for female writers.
“I am a woman,” Manning wrote on Reddit. “I have worked at Adult Swim since 2002. There are SO MANY of us here. We are strong, smart, funny, outspoken women, and absolutely, positively would not be in this building if we were mistreated. Most of us were drawn here by our love for the programming. Many of us have big roles that shape the direction and sensibility of the ‘network’ (which is really just a block of programming), including myself.”
Manning acknowledged that while Lazzo did yell from time to time, she never felt “unwelcome” at the network. Even when they disagreed with each other over the direction of a show, Lazzo treated her with respect, Manning said.
“But, he absolutely is not some crazy woman-hating bully,” Manning wrote. “There ARE women working here in creative roles.”
Adult Swim came under fire in June after Splitsider noted that of the 47 shows on the network’s roster, zero were created by women. In September, Buzzfeed reported that one source told them that the “aggressive office environment contributes to women’s standing in the creative departments.” As such, women were rarely seen as part of the creative team. According to one source, during a meeting consisting of both Adult Swim and Cartoon Network employees, Lazzo said that when women are in the writers room, “you don’t get comedy, you get conflict.”
In October, Lazzo took to Reddit — the same forum Manning used to address complaints — to clarify his comments.
“What I actually said was-women don’t tend to like conflict, comedy often comes from conflict, so that’s probably why we (or others) have so few female projects,” Lazzo wrote. “If unnamed sources want to complain, complain about me after I’ve read the script you asked me to read or tossed you out of my office for pitching something I didn’t like.”
On Twitter, actor Brett Gelman said that it was Lazzo’s attitude toward female creators that made him choose to cut ties with Adult Swim. Gelman had worked on a variety of network shows, including Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends. In her post, Manning addressed Gelman’s comments directly, arguing that if people were fans of the content they were seeing, then they were fans of Lazzo.
“This is making me crazy,” Manning said. “If you like anything you see on Adult Swim — then you would like Lazzo. His sensibility is the sensibility of the block.”
Gelman isn’t the only creative to speak out against Lazzo and his attitude, however. On Twitter, comedian Emily Gordon jokingly tweeted that “she really loved conflict” while Bob’s Burgers writer Wendy Molyneux said that she would love to make a joke about Lazzo’s thoughts but was “too afraid to say anything.” In a more direct response, BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg simply told Lazzo to “go fuck himself.”
Hey, Mike Lazzo, here's some conflict: Go fuck yourself!https://t.co/loDOhAKgIE— Raphael Bob-Waksberg (@RaphaelBW) October 5, 2016
Manning ended her post by asking people to “stop with all the anger” and remember why they loved Adult Swim in the first place, giving Lazzo full credit for the roster of shows the network airs.
“Please stop with all the anger. More love,” Manning wrote. “You guys wouldn’t be so angry if you didn’t love some of what we make here, right? Think of everything that Adult Swim has ever given you. You have Lazzo to thank for that.
Polygon has reached out to Adult Swim for further comment on the story and will update as more information becomes available.