In the throes of a drunken, headed-to-bed encounter with a woman named Ali (played by Jamie Lee), Pete (played by Holmes), pauses to say, “Wait, wait, wait … I just want to make sure you want to do this.”
Ali’s response: “All signs point to yes.”
In just a few words, one scene proved that it can be done. Men and women can be clear with each other about their wants and needs without anyone crying, calling an Uber, using a website to call someone out or issuing a morning-after apology.
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No wonder then that Lee — in Seattle the other night for an HBO-sponsored screening of two episodes of “Crashing” and a brief Q&A — is feeling pretty good about women in comedy right now. She was one of the writers on the episode — and of that scene, which was based on something from Holmes’ real life.
“It had real meaning,” she said of the script, which was written before the #MeToo movement kicked off. “People stop and talk about it.”
A stand-up comic for nine years, Lee had been a writer on “Crashing” for its two seasons before she auditioned and beat out 100 others for the role of Ali, a female comic who introduces Pete to the alt-comedy scene and reintroduces him to love after his split from his cheating wife in the show’s first season.
Before “Crashing,” Lee, 34, appeared on MTV’s “Girl Code,” and worked as a writer’s assistant for Jerry Seinfeld and Tom Poppa on “The Marriage Ref.” There was a lot of listening back then. No more.
“I feel braver and more carefree and less afraid to take up space,” Lee said of the days since the #MeToo movement exposed some of entertainment’s most powerful men as sexual deviants and bullies.
“I did a lot of self-editing and tongue-biting and was always second-guessing when should I speak, and should I say that? Does that sound too angry? Does that make me sound like a diva?” she said. “Not that I don’t think you should be considerate and think before you speak. I think that’s a good rule for men and women. But I’m not obsessing the way I used to.
“And when I’m in a group discussion with men, I noticed that I don’t have to fight as hard to not be interrupted,” she said. “You’re heard, even though you’re not as loud.”
Lee, a native of Dallas who moved to New York after graduating from the University of Texas, has dreams of movie stardom: Both writing and on-camera. Something akin to the work being done by Tina Fey. Mindy Kaling. Lena Dunham. Frankie Shaw.
“Maybe when I started out in comedy, if you’re a hyphenate — a comedian/writer/actress — people didn’t know what to make of you,” Lee said. “Now, people are thrilled that you can do so many things.”