The Year of the Female Showrunner
Well, the times, they are finally a-changin'. Shortly after the 2015 Golden Globe nominations were announced, Girls showrunner Jenni Konner tweeted, "Every show but one in #GoldenGlobes category for comedy/musical has female showrunners! RT that shit!"
Stop, Collaborate, and Listen
Those exact qualities Dunham mentioned are finally being welcomed and accepted as ways to make great television. "I think that when I've approached my male counterparts as a producer and said, 'Let's talk about who's going to do what and what you like to do; I want to support you in the parts that you enjoy doing, and I'm going to take the parts that I enjoy doing, and we'll figure out where the holes are,' they're a little surprised," says Lori McCreary, the executive producer of Madam Secretary. "[With] the females I've worked with, it just seems like a natural conversation…the males I've worked with, I don't know that they've ever had that conversation before."
They Write What They Want
Female showrunners are still breaking through the prevailing belief many studios have that women can only create shows for female audiences. In an interview on the Writers Guild website, Ray Donovan showrunner Ann Biderman stressed how tired she was of being asked about challenges she faced as a female showrunner, especially because her shows don't focus on "female-centric material." That's right, even the organization responsible for supporting all writers equally and trying to eliminate that whole gendered viewpoint couldn't help but reiterate the same assumption.
How To Reach Hollywood-Running Status
So, how does one rise to this extremely unique position in the entertainment world? There are people like Liz Meriwether, who immediately found herself running a show after FOX picked up her New Girl pilot. While that does happen, the more traditional route — as outlined in the new documentary Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show — goes as follows:
Executive story editor