I heard an amazing little interview on KCRW's The Business this morning, a weekly podcast about the dollars and sense of Tinseltown by way of its latest projects. This week featured Marti Noxon, a hard-working television writer and producer from past series as Buffy and unREAL. She went on to become 2IC to Matthew Weiner — the former show runner of the TV series Mad Men and has recently released HBO’s Sharp Objects and AMC’s Dietland.
I recently read a fascinating Hollywood Reporter cover story on the making of Noxon's HBO series with Amy Adams and was blown away with her candidness. Not many producers like to reveal their battle scars, especially when they’ve made it to the top of the heap. Not so of Noxon who attracted a new kind of notoriety last year after she defended a young women’s allegations of sexual impropriety against Matthew Weiner.
When I first heard about the scandal it sent me reeling. I loved everything about Mad Men. The period drama had such a visceral palette, like I could reach out and touch it. Everything was first-class, from the casting down to its costumes and set design. To a young adult, it was television at its finest, a series that went on to set a new benchmark for long-form scripted narratives.
Noxon had a rocky start to her adult years, overcoming a host of mental illnesses on the road to being a writer. "I got very sick [with an eating disorder] when I was young. In fact, I almost died repeatedly until I got sober in my early 20s." She talks about how the experience of reading Gillian Flynn’s first novel really helped to put her self-destructive choices into focus: "So, when I read Sharp Objects, I was like, "That's what I'm doing to myself right now. But I do have a choice about this. I don't have to keep cutting myself, metaphorically. I don't have to keep living in this pain."
What is most exciting about Noxon and her willingness to open up is that it offers genuine promise to the next generation of storytellers. She's unafraid to paint herself as a woman with a complicated past, to admit that her own path has been fraught with pain and despair. But in doing so Noxon is opening up a new conversation, endowing a sense of hope and shedding light where once there was darkness.