Fosse/Verdon Episode 1: Will FX actually be addressing Fosse's #MeToo issues?

At 9:50 pm last night, I anxiously awaited the start of FX’s new show Fosse/Verdon, watching a live TV show for the first time in at least 10 years. It reminded me of watching Grey’s Anatomy every week with friends in college.

Overall, I really enjoyed the first episode- the actors are all fabulous, the dancing is surprisingly fantastic, and the costumes are just as flashy as you want them to be. I loved that they really captured certain elements of the Fosse style, like how he would give extras an entire backstory to embody while they danced.

And yet, I kept waiting to see what all the articles leading up to the release meant when they said this series would be addressing the “MeToo” issues of Fosse. According to many articles, the show’s creative team was inspired to tell Fosse’s story by the #MeToo movement. In this article, director Levenson said "it was right around then that this incredible explosion of the truth, really, and in this industry in particular, came to light. It suddenly felt like, we have to tell this story because of that, instead of how are we going to tell this story and not glamorize it or skirt by some things. That's actually the subject of it." I have a feeling they mostly mean adding Gwen Verdon back into the story, rather than the many issues I get into in this post here.

I should reserve my judgement to see just how much they address Fosse’s sexual assault and harassment of countless women who worked for him, and yet I am skeptical. Nicole Fosse has been intimately involved in the production of the series. While I agree that she probably has an invaluable insight into both her parents, she also has some biases. In the article above, Nicole is quoted saying "so no matter what has happened that we've found out already, no matter what we've addressed, you can't just sweep it under the rug. It's a conversation that needs to begin in the household in every family, and it needs to be open and ongoing. I just think it's really important to tell the truth."

Nicole runs the Verdon Fosse Legacy, which “protects and oversees her parents’ creations.” When I wrote my blog post about my thoughts on Fosse’s sexual abuse and my mixed feelings on it, the Verdon Fosse Legacy commented on two of my instagram posts about it, one in all caps, demanding I remove them due to copyright issues. When I went back to look into it, they had deleted the all caps message but one remained. I then looked at every single post hashtagged Fosse, and on many of the other posts they had posted positive comments. I was the only one being asked to take anything down.

As I get into on my previous post, the reason it is important to show this part of Fosse’s legacy is that it really is a legacy- Ben Vereen danced for Fosse at 19 and was outed as forcing women to give him oral sex while working on the musical Hair. It’s not hard to see where he first learned this behavior. How many others internalized this same message?

I’ll be watching the rest of the show to see how it plays out. Has anyone else watched the first episode? What did you think?

Val OliphantComment