If there was any doubt that women and people of color are desperate to get their voices heard on television — especially in the wake of a study that shows women and minority television writers have decreased this TV season — look no further than this morning’s fiasco with HBO’s Writing Fellowship.
The HBO Access Writing Fellowship, which was announced last week, had the network actively seeking out minority/women writers to apply and submit scripts in order to be considered for a fellowship that would allow them to workshop and network with professionals. Many people expressed interest — the link was widespread all over the feeds of my various social media profiles — and were eager to apply, and to apply quickly as HBO decided to cap the submissions at 1,000. But this morning the Withoutabox site, where applications were to be submitted, kept freezing and crashing as users struggled to apply. The site worked for me around 10 AM EST but when I checked back shortly after 12 PM, when submissions opened up, it failed to load. Only around 2:30 did I get somewhat through the process — basic registration and on step two of who knows how many steps — when it froze again before I could continue or even upload any documents. When I finally got the site to load again, an update said that submissions were closed.
Many users expressed their frustration on Twitter and a message board. Though a lucky few tweeted that they did, indeed, make the cut, those celebratory tweets are far and few between. Maybe this fellowship is really just an elaborate joke about how tough it for women and minorities to get work in television? Good one!