For 90 minutes yesterday, the Sundance Film Festival could have been renamed the Queens of Comedy Festival, as Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Kristen Wiig, and Orange is The New Black writer Jenji Kohan gathered at Park City's Egyptian Theater to talk about telling stories from a female P.O.V. As they took the stage for the panel, which was titled "Power of Story: Serious Ladies," audience members shouted out gushes of praise, like "Love your leggings, Mindy!", but quickly the four funny ladies settled down to some aptly serious talk. Led by New Yorker television critic, Emily Nussbaum, the discussion covered questions ranging from "Why are women writers more successful on TV than in movies?" to "How do you know when you've gone to far with 'shock humor'?"
"You have to recognize when you've written something that is going to push buttons," said Girls creator Dunham. "Sometimes that is okay but you have to be ready for the fight. If I can't justify it then it shouldn't be on screen."
For Kaling, whose show The Mindy Project is on Fox, the regulations are more strict than they are for Dunham on cable network HBO, but she doesn't mind. "We did a whole episode about anal sex," said Kaling, "but we couldn't use that phrase. It made me a better writer because I had to come up with different ways to say it."
Another topic the women all bonded over was the speed the things they say and do appear on social media. When asked to give a specific example of scene they cut out because it was too shocking, Dunham said, "Oh no, I'm not going to tell you that. It would be on Twitter in five seconds." Wiig confessed that she hates it when people take her photo on the streets of New York, and that she misses being able to walk around unrecognized. Dunham, however, takes her meteoric fame in stride.
"I didn't leave my house much before [when I wasn't famous], and I don't leave my house much now." she laughed. "So nothing's really changed!"