There’s nothing funny about the Harvey Weinstein story, but NBC comedy Great News has a timely episode that offers some laughs while making strong points about sexual harassment.
The timing (Thursday, 9:30 ET/PT) is coincidental, NBC says, and the episode, written last summer, contains no references to Weinstein, who was fired from his prestigious film production company Sunday after news reports alleging he sexually harassed or assaulted young actresses over three decades. The episode's title, 'Honeypot!,' is also a word that's featured in The New Yorker's report on Weinstein.
(After the New Yorker allegations, Weinstein issued a statement "unequivocally" denying any allegations of "non-consensual sex.")
But Great News executive producers Tracey Wigfield and Tina Fey also worked on a 2012 episode of NBC's 30 Rock in which Jane Krakowski’s Jenna says: “I’m not afraid of anyone in show business. I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions ... out of five.”
News, which centers on the staff of a cable-news show, flips the usual pattern, making Fey’s network executive, Diana St. Tropez, the perpetrator. The gender switch highlights a power dynamic that's sometimes overshadowed by a focus on sex, and underlines the ridiculousness of victim blaming: Why was he alone with his harasser? What was hewearing?
It also raises a serious issue at the forefront of the Weinstein story: complicity. Rising young producer Katie Wendelson (Briga Heelan) has to decide whether keeping quiet about Diana’s behavior is the price of her promotion.
Although Weinstein isn’t mentioned, other media power players accused of sexual harassment, including former Fox News titans Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, are name-checked. Both were forced out after complaints and financial settlements were revealed.
Bill Cosby, accused by dozens of women and due to be tried again on sexual assault charges after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict, gets a shout-out, too.
When an abused newsroom colleague asks how many more men have to come forward before they’re believed, Katie responds, “In the words of the Cosby jurors, ‘Duh, I don’t know. More than 60?’ ”
At one point, Diana excuses her actions, explaining: “I may have made a few off-color comments, but that’s just locker-room talk,” a reference to Donald Trump's defense when the then-presidential candidate's Access Hollywood “grab ‘em” recording was released in October 2016
When co-workers, male and female, complain of Diana’s improper advances, young anchor Portia Scott-Griffith (Nicole Richie) says: “No one is going to believe any of you ‘normies.’ My mentor, Roger Ailes, had been whipping it out in front of women for decades.”