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Jill Soloway on the Audacity of ‘I Love Dick,’ and How It Might Create ‘Radical Feminist Sleeper Cells’

At the show's Sundance Film Festival premiere, Soloway explains how its feminist viewpoint is more crucial than ever.

Jill Soloway

George Frey/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Jill Soloway hopes, of course, that feminists, radicals and fans of her work tune in to her latest Amazon series, “I Love Dick.”

“But I also have a secret dream, that some red state daughters will turn it on, just wanting to see Kevin Bacon,” she said Monday at the Sundance Film Festival, “and they’re like, ‘I Love Dick,’ what is this? And little by little they grow this radical feminist sleeper cell.”

The series, which premiered to a packed house at the MARC Theater in Park City, stars Bacon as the title character, the prickly (and somewhat mysterious) leader of an artists’ enclave in the tiny town of Marfa, Texas. Kathryn Hahn plays Chris, a filmmaker who comes to town with her husband, author Sylvere (Griffin Dunne).

READ MORE: Kevin Bacon on How His ‘I Love Dick’ Character Is Much More Than Just a Dick

 “I Love Dick” is based on a 1997 novel that has become a cult favorite for its exploration of men and women relationships. At a panel discussion after the screening, Soloway and the show’s cast and producers discussed the show’s groundbreaking depiction of feminism.
I Love Dick Amazon Kevin Bacon

“It was an audacious dream that we could do a television show that could attempt to articulate what it would look like to shoot a show from a female gaze point-of-view,” said executive producer Sarah Gubbins, who created the show with Soloway. “To that end, we knew we had to bring in a history of filmmakers, a history of alternative versions of cinematography and try to really coalesce that into each episode.”

Soloway said the power of “I Love Dick” has crystalized even more for her after this weekend’s women’s marches across the globe. “Being in Washington, and watching this president come to power, we’ve been really excited to put our money where our mouths are, our mouths where are bodies are, our mouths where our film is,” she said. “There’s this phrase where feminism must be intersectional and that’s one of the reasons that we took the book and tried to explode it into these viewpoints of these women, so that we could really be expressing how the female gaze actually is the other gaze, how it talks about how it feels to be seen.”

Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn, “I Love Dick”


Soloway said the screening was “so emotional for me. I just sat there crying the whole time. Because it’s so much about directing and finding your own voice. So many of these feelings are about women wanting so badly to be heard.”

On the show, Chris quickly finds herself attracted to Dick, and a complicated dance between all three of them promises to change all of their lives.

“One of the things we were really excited about was the soapy absurd love triangle when a couple falls in love with a man, and episode by episode attempts to make real this attraction,” Soloway said. “That’s the kind of muscular insanity we attempted to make good on. So you’re really with this couple, episode to episode, as they get closer and closer to allowing this man into their lives physically. They really keep going there, and they stay together until they can’t anymore.

“For me, to be thinking about queerness and to be thinking about a heterosexual couple who’s overly sexually attracted to a man together, is so revolutionary,” she said.

READ MORE: Amazon Pilot Reviews: ‘The Tick,’ Jill Soloway’s ‘I Love Dick’ & ‘Jean-Claude Van Johnson,’ Ranked

As “I Love Dick” progresses, the entire town of Marfa is transformed. “We see what happens to the women in town as one woman loses her shame. They all start to lose their shame. And jobs are lost, institutions fail… As women start to get rid of their shame it really does cause these ripples of problems. The story is a model of what happens in the world as women start to reclaim their voices.”

Actors Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Bacon from “I Love Dick” pose for a photo with director Jill Soloway at the Indiewire Photo Studio at Chase Sapphire on Main, during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Chase Sapphire/AP Images

Soloway said the series’ themes of feminism also extended behind the camera, as she noted “there’s a belief for us that we want to undo some of the patriarchal notions of filmmaking.

“I’ve seen a lot of male directors write a script or get a script and then come down to the set to insist that everybody get it right on their behalf,” she said. “The producers or the money people will stand at the monitors with their arms folded making sure everybody’s doing it right for the money… It’s so incredibly simple when you just remove a lot of the militaristic traditions of filmmaking. No one’s yelling. We let the actors get in their feelings, we’re always trying to prioritize emotion. That’s a feminine dream, something all genders are welcome to participate in.”

“I Love Dick” premieres May 12 on Amazon Prime.

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