All hail the female showrunners nominated for Golden Globes
I love the Golden Globes. While other award-show lovers fantasize about a night at the Oscars or the Emmys, my dreams have always included sneaking from one celebrity-filled table to the next during commercial breaks, and laughing with slightly tipsy writers and directors, at the Golden Globes.
This Sunday, the 72nd annual ceremony will air, and I think I may actually be more excited than ever. Why, you ask? Well, in addition to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reprising their roles as hostess(es) with the mostest(es), this year’s crop of shows nominated in the ‘Best TV Series’ categories, is heavily helmed by programs with female showrunners. Big yes to that.
Now that may sound like a small deal, but it’s actually a BIG deal. Not only do men generally dominate the film and television industry, specifically in the position of “showrunner” (which is basically the creative CEO of a show), but also, there is an age old stigma still circulating in our society that women can’t be funny. So, the fact that women nearly edged men completely out of the comedy category this year (Mike Judge is the odd man out with Silicon Valley), definitely proves that the tone of the media is shifting. It’s inspiring to see these remarkable women leading the pack, so hats off to the female showrunners with shows in the Globes running.
Jenji Kohan – Orange is the New Black
I don’t need to tell you that Jenji Kohan’s hour-long series, loosely based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, is a huge success. With a cast dominated by interesting, dynamic, mega badass female characters, there is no doubt that Jenji is a creative feminist genius. This past year, she was the cover star for the August issue of The Hollywood Reporter, and in her interview disclosed that her ex-boyfriend had told her that, “she’d have better luck getting elected to Congress than getting staffed on a TV show.” Not only has Jenji been staffed to write on shows like FRIENDS, Gilmore Girls, and Tracy Takes On (for which she won an Emmy), but Orange is the New Black is the second wildly successful show that she has created herself (the first being Weeds). Basically, Jenji Kohan did what people didn’t think she could, and she looks pretty amazing doing it (hair envy to the extreme).
Jenni Konner & Lena Dunham – Girls
This partnership is one that I’m seriously jealous of. All I want to do for the rest of the year is follow these two around and watch them do their thing (maybe they’d be interested in making their duo a trio?). Girls is only one of many projects that the pair are working on together, and after doing my research I learned that their creative process generally includes being locked in a hotel room together with room service and Shonda Rhimes shows (I’m in!). Jenni got her start writing for Judd Apatow’s short-lived (but totally awesome) show Undeclared, and never looked back. She was originally brought onto Girls to supervise Lena who didn’t have any experience making a TV show, but these days the two are basically equal partners at the top, and best friends.
Jill Soloway – Transparent
In an interview with NPR, Jill Soloway cited writing about an older trans parent as her “creative destiny” — her own father came out as a trans woman later in life. Prior to Transparent’s big break, Jill was a prolific screenwriter. In addition to Afternoon Delight, the feature film she wrote and directed in 2013 (it’s a must see!), she has written for shows like Six Feet Under, United States of Tara, and How to Make it in America. Now with Transparent, she has managed to craft characters that are both loveable and unlikeable (a difficult feat) as part of a program that resonates strongly with a community that is not often portrayed in mainstream media. Talk about impressive.
Jennie Urman – Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin is the adaptation of a popular Venezuelan telenovela and it premiered on the CW this past fall. But Jane the Virgin is basically a 180 from your typical CW show. The series has received critical acclaim for its nuanced portrayal of issues like religion, sexuality, and class. Prior to bringing Jane to life in the U.S., Jennie created the short-lived show, Emily Owens M.D. (which you should stream on Netflix ASAP, it’s mega worth it) and has a slew of credits writing for shows like Gilmore Girls, 90210, and Hope & Faith. Now she’s breaking boundaries for the CW with Jane (the program includes dialogue in both English and Spanish), and forging the path for female showrunners with this sweet and funny show that is really winning us over.
Sarah Treem – The Affair
In an interview with Variety last October, Sarah Treem referred to her new dual-perspective TV show, The Affair, as an attempt “to create art on television.” She has definitely accomplished that goal. As an alum of the Yale School of Drama, Sarah has made her mark on the creative world writing plays, feature films, and television (including critically-acclaimed shows like In Treatment and House of Cards). The Affair is Sarah’s first original program, that comes as a collaboration with Israeli writer/producer, Hagai Levi. The show (which airs on Showtime) provides a complex look into the relationship between two people, for which there is no ‘objective’ truth, and allows the audience to experience differing perspectives of generously flawed characters, in a way that is unique to Sarah’s vision as a storyteller. It’s compelling and breathtaking, and you’ll find yourself completely entranced by this interesting take on a familiar story of adultery .
Michelle King – The Good Wife
Michelle King is one half of the husband/wife showrunning team behind the popular and critically-acclaimed CBS program, The Good Wife. She and her husband, Robert King, created the show back in 2009, pitching a story about the wife of a former state’s attorney, who returns to work as a litigator at a law firm after her husband is part of a humiliating scandal. Now on its sixth season, this is the third time the show has been nominated for a Golden Globe in this category. More importantly, Michelle and Robert have been consistently commended for creating a successful female-centric show that doesn’t talk down to audiences, earning it the title of the “smartest drama on network television.”
Let’s go get those trophies, ladies!