Sorry, kids, but the best reason to hire minorities isn’t just to balance out the team and throw the downtrodden a bone. Not at all. The best reason is to bring new perspectives into the Industry and find new directions in which to go. Which is our TVWriter™ way of saying that female showrunners are taking their places at the heads of writers room tables and they’re kicking creative butt:
Jenji Kohan Leads Band of Female Showrunners
Breaking TV’s Old-School Rules
by Cynthis Littleton
In a dynamic marketplace, a rising tide lifts all boats. And the tidal wave of television series production in the past few years has led to an unprecedented number of women serving as captains of their ships — as showrunners and auteur writer-directors of shows.
And Shonda Rhimes now has company on the list of women who are juggling multiple primetime series.
This sea change comes with financial gains, according to data from the Writers Guild of America West, and brings anecdotal evidence of shifts in the way series are made. But it’s not just the heightened demand for content that has been good for female creatives; a newfound openness to material, no matter how challenging or narrowly focused, has paved the way for shows with fresh themes.
The unglamorous setting of a women’s prison, peopled by a diverse clutch of complicated inmates, none of them nice and ladylike, fighting to survive? Bring it on. The success of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” steered by creator Jenji Kohan, has been a game-changer, say numerous showrunners.
“There’s such a demand for really unusual storytelling,” says Michelle Ashford, creator and execproducer of Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.” “That’s breaking down barriers to the kinds of shows that you would normally not see on television, and that has been really good for (female) writers.”
A romantic comedy about a divorced mom in her late 40s? A backstage melodrama about mostly despicable women who run a reality TV show? Those would have been hard sells even five years ago, says Marti Noxon, showrunner of Bravo’s “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” and Lifetime’s “Unreal,” who’s also helping guide CBS’ upcoming medical drama “Code Black” as an exec producer.
“The idea in television for so long was that shows had to appeal to the broadest number of people — and then all these cable networks started developing their own shows,” Noxon says. “Girlfriends’ Guide” was Bravo’s first scripted series, which opened yet another avenue for femme-friendly concepts. “There have been a lot of complicated female characters in TV, but there were not many places where you could write nontraditional stories. They’re not doctors or lawyers or cops.”