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‘There’s Johnny’ Star Ian Nelson on Hollywood Sexism: No Denying ‘Women Are Treated Differently’

“Shouldn’t we be past this?” asks actor who tells TheWrap not much has changed since 1970s

Hulu’s new comedy “There’s Johnny” revolves around the behind-the-scenes world of late night television, as witnessed by wide-eyed Hollywood newbie Andy Klavin, played by Ian Nelson.

One of the most prominent themes of the show is how abysmally women are treated in the workplace. One character in particular, Joy (Jane Levy), receives the brunt of innuendos and crude jokes from male executives and writers on Johnny Carson’s show, though it’s clear: The nightly broadcast wouldn’t go on without her.

There’s no denying it, Nelson told TheWrap in a recent interview: “Women are treated differently than men in the workplace.” And the show handles it head on, in a “very empathetic way,” he said. “Of course there was a Joy [on the show],” he said of Levy’s decidedly fictional character. “There had to be, whether it was the ‘Tonight Show’ or another news station or another film set or television set, then and now,” he said, indicating not much has changed.

“She’s clearly getting paid less than her male counterparts in the exact same job, and the fact that Tony [Danza]’s character has no real excuse for why, it pretty much says why is this an issue. Shouldn’t we be past this?” Nelson told TheWrap. “Something that happened in 1972, when the show takes place, feels so contemporary right now because that is what everyone is wondering: ‘Shouldn’t we be past this?'”

Nelson’s character’s Midwestern naïveté slowly dissipates throughout the series, largely thanks to his relationship with Joy.

In the pilot, Andy arrives in Hollywood to start a job at the Johnny Carson show — promptly at 11 p.m. The only other person at the lot is a security guard, who laughs at Andy for thinking the show is taped live. “Come back tomorrow and wait in line like everyone else,” the guard tells him.

Nelson said that growing up in a “very traditional” home in the South made him able to “connect with Andy’s Midwest upbringing very intensely.And, similar to Andy, the 22 year old actor started out in Hollywood later than some of his peers, who might have begun their careers as young children. 

When I started acting, I got a local agent in North Carolina when I was 12 or 13,” Nelson said. “I always had this extra edge because I thought that I had a late start because a lot of my peers started earlier than I did.”

Now that Nelson has a foothold in Hollywood, he’s busier than ever — with a role on “Teen Wolf,” along with his starring part in “There’s Johnny.” He also stars in the upcoming movie, “Freak Show,” and has more projects in the pipeline.

You can stream “There’s Johnny” now on Hulu.