Since Shailene Woodley broke out of her Secret Life of the American Teenager pigeonhole with The Descendants in 2011, two things about her have remained constant. First, she is a gifted actress who almost always turns in an excellent performance, no matter what role she’s playing. Second, she will make a point of establishing her hippie chick bona fides in every interview she gives, and it will range from charming to hilarious to annoying.
And at the 2017 Emmys, Woodley stuck to her pattern. She was very good on Big Little Lies, for which she received an Emmy nomination. She also kicked off the night by telling a red-carpet interviewer that she doesn’t even own a TV because she prefers to read, like a parody of an insufferable person from the mid-’90s, before we all started talking about how TV is just as intellectually stimulating as books are these days.
Shailene Woodley telling the E! News guy she doesn't watch E! because she reads just replenished me pic.twitter.com/rhfRPgSAgQ— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) September 17, 2017
“When do people find time to [watch TV]?” Woodley asked rhetorically. “I’m a reader, so I always read a book.”
On any other night, audiences most likely would have brushed off Woodley’s comment as mildly pretentious but ultimately harmless — but Woodley decided to trash TV on the red carpet of the Emmys, an awards show dedicated to celebrating television, which she is attending because she was nominated for an award celebrating the work she did on television. So TV critics across Twitter were understandably a bit miffed, in a tongue-in-cheek way.
At last, I have found my pop culture nemesis. https://t.co/wC6wvatAY7— emily nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) September 17, 2017
Shailene Woodley says on the red carpet she doesn't have a TV; she watches her shows by gazing in a drop of morning dew on a forest fern— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) September 17, 2017
Woodley’s comments are a reminder that even in the era of Peak TV and the so-called golden age of television, TV is still considered by many to be an unserious art form. It might be a major cultural force — but that doesn’t necessarily make it respected.