Central Drama ChairA new TV series on Netflix about the new dean of the liberal arts college is not uncommon in higher education: a professor did something illegal in the classroom. It exploded, the narrative spiraled upward, and students demanded action.
The audience also understands that Professor Bill Dobson, played by Jay Duplass, is, to put it mildly, a mess. His wife passed away a year ago, he had alcohol and other material problems, and his college daughter had just ran away from home. He and his department head Ji-Yoon Kim (played by Sandra Oh) are close friends—perhaps more. When the dean wants him to do nothing but apologize, he will not succumb to the government’s agenda. All of these will lead to bad optical effects and good drama.
chronicle Recently, she had a conversation with Dupras, who also served as a program consultant, and the series’ creator, writer, and executive producer Amanda Peet (Amanda Peet). She began interviewing scholars in this position to understand the role of the chairperson. pressure. For length and clarity, this dialogue has been edited.
When I think “Oh, I have already written this” or “We have reported that”, I have a lot of time to watch this series. In my opinion, although this drama is still a romantic comedy/drama, it is also a study of the dynamics of academic workplaces in some famous and isolated liberal arts colleges. Amanda, in a sense, how important is it to you to make that environment feel real or real? How do you do it?
Pete: This is very important to me, because obviously I am not in college. As you pointed out, I want to try a workplace romantic comedy.I love movies Tusi with Broadcast news. I have thought a lot about the English department as a mature comedy theatre, partly because of generational tension. You have these idealistic students, then the middle-aged people whose idealism has been tempered, and then the old relics.I really want to put it in a place where the remnants of white male elitism are still in play, still there.
The academic world is perfect.
Pete: Well, obviously, some places are worse than others. I interviewed many professors and some of them would say, “That will never happen!” Some of them would tell horror stories about how far behind the times some people in their department are. The way I did it was that I just interviewed a lot of people.
How did you find someone? What are you asking them? What are those conversations like?
Pete: At first I was just a friend of my friend—I didn’t even care if that person was in the English department. I just want to know what it’s like to be chairman. Just like that pie chart, the circle where it is, what do you know, what you don’t know, what you don’t know, you don’t know.So the more The people I’ve talked to, the more I realize what I don’t know, the more fascinating, the more the professors agree that their department is a soap opera.
How did it feel to teach at a prestigious university before? How has it changed during the programming and production of the program?
Pete: What impressed me most at the end of the filming was how many of these people love teaching and regard their students as real people who can learn from them. That kind of tired cynicism, I didn’t see it. I want to convey the enthusiasm I hear from the voices of these professors. They think this is a call. This is very moving for me.
Jay, your character Bill Dobson is a bit messy. Ji-Yoon joked on the show that he was close to the cliché of “the dissatisfied middle-aged white male professor”, which is definitely a cliché I know. What made you interested in playing this role, and how did you prepare for this role?
replica: What made me interested in playing this role was the force of nature named Amanda Peet. I was fortunate to work with him to produce a TV show created by me and my brother called Unity. To be honest, I think all of this just evolved from our desire to cooperate. I am just excited about Amanda as a writer and creator. We discussed it for a while, maybe a few years. Then when she came up with this particular idea, it was only 100% yes.
I didn’t go to an Ivy League school, but I went to a Jesuit Catholic preparatory school and was prepared for this kind of thing.I went to the University of Texas [at Austin], And then I entered a super hidden project, the project is basically prepared for the children of the Ivy League schools, they either can not afford the tuition fees of the Ivy League schools, or do not want to debt, or just want to go to public schools, But still receive that kind of education. So, I don’t know, I feel very comfortable in that world, but I also hate that world, and that world bothers me. When I first entered, what I learned about myself-I didn’t like it at all. I don’t like academia. I don’t like a lot of ideas, because I didn’t choose the right ones, and I had to live in them for four years. [Laughs.] But at the same time, I really like their enthusiasm for the work they do. It helps me figure out that I really want to be a filmmaker because I don’t like to overexpress concepts. I like to try to plan an experience for other people, and I think this is my current view.
It sounds like you had a deep impression of the academic world before you came into contact with this project. Has your impression as a teacher changed in that workplace?
replica: I did think a lot about the difficulties in academia.I guess the one thing that Amanda and I both like very much is that you have these very serious, educated, and highly enthusiastic people, and they basically act like them-I don’t know-like in a set Temptation Island. This is an elimination scene, which is true in life. So just sympathy and sympathy, and a little sympathy for them, because of course the film industry is also a dog-biting world.But yes, I think a lot of love passed, and I must have something to do with what Amanda said, in the end, these people, they can’t no teach. That is their pain. If they are still there after so many years, it may be because they like it. This makes me full of sympathy for many professors in universities and high schools.
There is a saying that college students have a right or are too sensitive or reactionary. In this series, when Bill does something controversial in class, you will see the range of students’ reactions. Some students took him down. Some people want to hear him finish. Some people want him to apologize. I’m very curious, Amanda, what do you want to communicate with college students today?
Pete: I hope it is not a unified thing. I am not interested in a bunch of snowflakes. I think this is a kind of injury. It is unfair and boring because it is a metaphor.And I also think that, for better or worse, no matter how they express it, they try to correct this historical imbalance. In fact, some of these institutions have long favored wealthy white people. I think it’s important to remember that this is where they came from..
You go to Columbia University to study for an undergraduate. Did you get anything from that experience?
Pete: You know, I felt like an imposter there. I just think that somehow it is scary, the core curriculum is scary. I was there in the 90s, when all the core curriculum wars took place on the Columbia University campus. On the first day there, the students hung a poster and a banner above the library. All the great white male writers who died were there, you know, Sappho and Woolf. But I kind of went out for lunch. This is not when I was really ignited by these things.
In these very old-fashioned institutions, students and sometimes even young faculty and staff are instigating change. This really happened—especially at the end of the last episode. This is a hopeful note for Ji-Yoon’s personal life, but in her career, you will see her being crushed and spit out by the system. Is this the message you want the audience to get from that ending? Do you think this has something to do with broader matters in academia, or is it more like a specific role choice?
Pete: What I want is to put the audience in a position where they can truly identify with the person in a terrible dilemma. I hope that it is difficult for Ji-Yoon to condemn Bill, and it is really difficult for Ji-Yoon to defend him and increase the pressure on her from both sides. I still believe that for women in supervisory positions in certain institutions, you must not only do your job well. You must also understand how everyone feels, because you are the first woman, the first person of color, to lead everything.The kind of extracurricular emotional work that women have to do in order to take care of their colleagues’ feelings is something I’m really interested in exploring, the pressure when you are the first and only one.