Something weird is reportedly happening over at Adult Swim, and it troubles comedian Brett Gelman so much that he decided to cut ties with the Cartoon Network programming block. Or at least that’s what the Eagleheart and Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends actor suggested to his Twitter followers late Sunday night, saying executive vice president and creative director Mike Lazzo’s prior comments about not hiring women writers and producers were integral to his decision.
According to Splitsider‘s Megh Wright, who’s been covering the story since last June, Gelman linked to a prior article about the matter and exclaimed, “THIS IS THE REASON I HAVE SEVERED TIES.” The article in question concerned a Reddit post Lazzo published in response to a BuzzFeed article concerned with how Adult Swim was “failing” women. It seems Lazzo wanted to wrap up the controversy with the 249 words he dedicated to it but — per Splitsider, BuzzFeed and other responders on social media — the Adult Swim executive only made things worse — especially when he claimed “women don’t tend to like conflict, comedy often comes from conflict, so that’s probably why we (or others) have so few female projects.”
Around the same time, Paste learned from an anonymous former Adult Swim employee that one male production head had told her their boss would “never let a woman be on staff” since they “distract” the all-male writers’ rooms. Whether or not Gelman was aware of this particular incident remains unclear, but his animosity toward Cartoon Network’s late night block certainly is. He even told fans on social media he’d never make his Dinner With series with the network again.
Aside from alleged instances of blatant and underlying sexism, however, Gelman also cited the network’s support of the controversial Million Dollar Extreme comedy group and its Adult Swim show, Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace. When a fan called Gelman out for this the Wednesday after the presidential election, the comic responded in kind: “I know this and I have stopped working with them. Not to mention the misogyny of their policies.” After a Jewish reporter at BuzzFeed wrote about the show in August, its alt-right-leaning fanbase trolled him repeatedly online with anti-semitic threats and images.
Neither Lazzo nor anyone else affiliated with Adult Swim has commented publicly about Gelman’s departure nor his reasoning for it. The comedian tweeted again Monday morning, this time highlighting the role Million Dollar Extreme played in his leaving the cable channel, but has otherwise remained silent on the matter.