In the world of writing, rejection is inevitable. But that doesn't mean that the work is not worth sharing or that the journey towards it is not valuable. In this series, I highlight rejected submission essays that are too good to keep to myself. Each essay is accompanied by the prompt that inspired it and a reflection on the writing process. I believe that all writing is writing and that every piece has something to offer.
I wrote this essay for a fellowship opportunity that required me to answer the question "Why do you want to write for TV?" In it, I express my deep admiration for television as a medium for both storytelling and human connection. I draw on personal experiences and cultural influences to explain how TV has impacted my life and how it has become a vital component of my identity. Furthermore, I discuss my strong belief in the collaborative nature of the writers' room and how it can generate a wide range of diverse perspectives, resulting in more intricate storylines and multidimensional characters. At its core, this essay reflects my unwavering passion for storytelling and my unwavering commitment to contributing my unique perspective to the world of television.
I want to write for a series because I love TV. I love watching TV loudly with my family or in quiet moments by myself. I love thinking about the world and thinking about how people move through it, and I get so much insight from discussing characters and their realities. TV specifically offers the opportunity to really get to know characters and see what happens after they get the thing they really wanted in the Finale. That part of the journey is often neglected in movies, and I believe that getting the thing you really want is only the beginning of a new journey filled with new doubts and conflicts and consequences. TV lets you go there—sometimes bursting bubbles, sometimes creating hope, oftentimes offering validation for the ebbs and flows of life.
The last memory I have of spending time with my mother was on a Thursday night in 1995. We were laying on the couch watching Living Single, per usual. We laughed a lot, and I spent all the commercial breaks giving a lecture about why I was a Maxine in a way that only a ten-year-old could. I loved that Maxine was simultaneously loud, ambitious, independent, flirtatious, and femme—perfectly blending masculinity and femininity at a time that was confusing to be a Tomboyish Girl with lots of crushes. I felt seen by the show and my mom when she agreed, just like the Regine she was. That was the last night she ever spent at home. Yes, I have memories after that at City of Hope where my mom received treatment for a few months before succumbing to leukemia, but the memory that is most important to me from that time of my life is being able to just spend time together laughing and chatting in front of the TV.
TV creates space for connection, whether through hot takes on the internet or living room chats. I believe that Television has become the oral tradition of our time. It has become the space where we gather to exchange stories and lessons and ideas. We debate and through our debate reveal who we are and what’s important to us. I come from a long line of chismosas and have many fond memories of late nights sitting in a cousin’s living room chatting about what everyone was doing and speculating as to why. Television has normalized gossip as we read characters and share our judgements—which, again, reveals everything about who we are and what’s important to us.
Chisme is a significant part of my culture. It was my introduction to storytelling: weaving a plot, character development, dealing with consequences, giving notes on how it should have been done, and sometimes punching up what actually happened. The higher the stakes, the juicier the tea. As a writer, I love to infuse this influence into my stories. I often draw from my lived experiences and the various aspects of myself in my writing, using it as an opportunity to test my beliefs. Arcadia is a story drawn from my cousin’s experience as a lesbian PTA mom, filtered through my lens and beliefs, which is ultimately chisme transformed into dramedy. Literally. My cousin came over one night to drink wine and talk shit about PTA moms, and Arcadia was born.
What makes chisme fun is the collaborative element. It works best when sitting around a table interjecting jokes and building on the story and stakes. I want to write for a series because I love the collaborative nature of the writers’ room. Together, the room builds a story into something one person alone with a singular perspective could not do. It creates opportunities to infuse various beliefs and approaches and lifestyles, expanding the realm of possibilities for action and reaction. It leads to more complex characters who may seem paradoxical in nature, but more accurately reflects the complexity of human identity that often carries multiple competing dualities and truths at the same time (hello, nuance!).
I want to write for a series because I love storytelling. I have lived many lives in this lifetime, worked many jobs, surrounded by many different kinds of people, happy to gossip with everyone and see how they tick. I believe that my perspective would greatly contribute to TV, and I would love to share the power of feeling seen as I did that Thursday night in 1995.