Being a showrunner is hard work. The job typically encompasses the responsibilities of an executive producer and head writer while also being in creative control of a show. Unlike in film, the showrunner even outranks the director, so they have final say from everything to the direction a plot takes to casting and budget. Los Angeles Times columnist Scott Collins described showrunners as “a curious hybrid of starry-eye artists and tough-as-nails operational managers. It’s one of the most unusual and demanding right-brain/left-brain job descriptions in the entertainment world.”
To be a showrunner, someone can’t just be a writer and they can’t just be a manager. They have to be both. Sounds like the kind of multitasking-heavy job that a lot of women would excel at, right? Then you’ll be surprised to hear that Variety found that
of the new scripted shows for the 2016-2017 season, 80% of showrunners were male (and furthermore, 90% were white).
That means, if you’re interested in watching a show that a woman is in charge of, you actually have to search one out because chances are, your favourite shows are all run by men. Here are a few of the best shows run by women out there right now:
For a Canadian option, check out CBC’s Workin’ Moms run by Catherine Reitman, who also stars. The show aims to examine and challenge the modern ideal that working moms can “have it all”. Reitman takes inspiration from her own life, showing the struggles of being a mom today, including what it’s like to pump breast milk in a bathroom stall or deal with an unexpected pregnancy just when you were getting your career back on track.
Fresh Off the Boat
As the first American TV sitcom starring an Asian-American family to air on network primetime since 1994, Fresh Off the Boat is groundbreaking in more ways than one. Run by Nahnatchka Khan, the show follows a Taiwanese family’s move from Chinatown of Washington to Orlando to open a cowboy-themed steak restaurant. It touches on culture clash, dealing with lack of diversity, the “American Dream” and what it’s like for an Asian kid at school. It’s loosely inspired by Eddie Huang’s book Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir.
How to Get Away With Murder
You can’t really talk about female showrunners without mentioning one of Shonda Rhimes’ shows. Hospital drama, Grey’s Anatomy and political drama, Scandal are both huge successes, so why not a legal drama? How to Get Away With Murder stars none other than Viola Davis (who is a Golden Globe, Emmy and Oscar winner) as a defence lawyer who uses questionable tactics to get her clients acquitted. There’s always a huge twist you never see coming around the corner, which is of course, ShondaLand’s specialty.
Orange is the New Black
If you haven’t already watched at least an episode of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, what are you waiting for? Run by Jenji Kohan (who also ran Weeds for all 8 of its seasons), the show is an adaption of a memoir of the same name which follows one woman’s experience in a minimum security prison. Not only is the casting diverse, every story line focuses on a woman’s journey and its existence in the general absence of men.
For its first season, star (and showrunner), Rachel Bloom won a Golden Globe–not a bad start. The show is classified as a romantic/black comedy and… a musical. After Rebecca Bunch decides to quit her job as a lawyer to follow an ex from her past out to California, she decides to also go off her depression and anxiety meds. Her brand new life—and attitude—make for plenty of opportunities to sing and dance. Critics call the show “a charming, eccentric commentary on human relationships”.
There are plenty more amazing shows run by women including Transparent, Jane the Virgin, The Affair, unREAL and Jessica Jones.
Let us know which one is your favourite in the comments!