Over the weekend, this tweet by Shadi Petosky, the co-creator of the Amazon children's show Danger & Eggs, went viral.
The tweet was in support of the campaign to get businesses to cut ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 people dead. Amazon streams NRATV, the pro-gun lobbying group's online channel. (Apple and YouTube also carry it.)
When Twitter users asked Petosky what she meant about Amazon, she responded with this tweet.
Danger & Eggs, which Petosky created with Mike Owens, was picked up to series after being among Amazon's pilots in late 2015. Speaking with BuzzFeed News on Tuesday, Petosky said that as they started to work on the show in 2016, she was called in to a meeting with two Amazon executives, Aaron Davidson and Melissa Wolfe.
Petosky said they told her a potential writer for Danger & Eggs (whom she would not name) had told them that she "couldn't be funny based on a deep-dive of my Twitter feed." The executives also her told not to talk about politics on social media, Petosky said.
"They said that I needed to tone it down, that I needed to watch it," she said. "It wasn't becoming of someone running one of their shows."
Petosky, who is transgender, had tweeted about the appropriate use of pronouns.
"I forget the tweet," she said, "but it was something like: Pronouns aren't that hard, just figure it out."
She had also been the subject of international news stories in September 2015 after a run-in with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) caused her to miss a flight from Orlando to Minneapolis, an incident that drew attention to the invasive and demeaning ways trans people are dealt with during airport security screenings. Petosky's story had gone viral because of her tweets about it.
In the aftermath, she said, "I was being very political about the TSA and my experience." That was what Amazon wanted her to "tone down," she added.
According to Petosky, Wolfe asked her how she would feel if someone were posting "pro-Trump messages."
"She used that as an example," Petosky said. "It was a very condescending meeting. But I wanted to play ball, and I wanted to be a good showrunner, so I went with it."
She then deleted a number of tweets.
Amazon Studios did not respond to requests for comment.
Petosky said she was moved to reveal her experience with Amazon because "she felt like there was a little bit of a connection" between how she was treated and the company's politics.
"I saw the thing about Amazon and the NRA, I was thinking about how their politics affect me," she said.
Petosky added that she grew up in Montana around guns, "but with kids being killed in schools, we really have to do something."
She pointed out a tweet from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from two days after the presidential election.
"The head of Amazon did a pro-Trump tweet!" Petosky said. "It made me angry. I've been pretty frustrated that I was kind of singled out to not be political. I've been very frustrated with being asked to tone down my politics and feminism and transfeminism online."
Amazon Studios has been in limbo since the ouster of Roy Price in the wake of sexual harassment allegations — only recently has Jennifer Salke, formerly of NBC, been hired to take his place. As a result of the company's purgatory, Danger & Eggs — which has been nominated for several awards and received praise for its representation of LGBT characters — has also been in a state of uncertainty since its premiere in late June.
"We're just completely in limbo," Petosky said. "We lost our crew. There doesn't seem to be that much concern or enthusiasm. It just slipped through the cracks."
The show's fate is up to the new executive team, Petosky said.
"I don't want to be canceled, but I'll probably be canceled after this," she said.
Petosky is now working on Twelve Forever for Netflix.
Kate Aurthur is the chief Los Angeles correspondent for BuzzFeed News. Aurthur covers the television and film industries.
Contact Kate Aurthur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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