It’s easy to shower praises on actors when they’re all we see on TV. However, performers are just the tip of that TV iceberg. There are so many moving parts and aspects to how a series comes to fruition. From the writers to the directors to the cinematographers, every position is vital in pulling off a successful production. Now, I want to focus on TV showrunners – you know, the ones who run the whole kit and caboodle. More specifically, female showrunners. They’re the unsung heroes – the glue that holds any show together. Not only that, but steering the wheel in an industry that’s predominantly male. It’s difficult to carve out your niche when the majority of your predecessors are of the opposite gender. Especially since there’s still gender inequality running rampant in all modes of industry. But, that’s another article for another day. 

Below, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite TV series that have female showrunners leading the way. Peruse at your peril. 

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Wynonna Earp
Wynonna Earp Showrunner Emily Andras at San Diego Comic-Con

COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL: SAN DIEGO — “Wynonna Earp Panel” — Pictured: Emily Andras — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/SYFY)

Now, Earpers know Emily Andras is the Mother of Unicorns. While Beau Smith created the graphic novel for Wynonna Earp, Andras contributed greatly to breathing life into its TV counterpart. Just call her Showrunner Extraordinaire! Not only that, but Andras ensures that quite a few women are working behind the scenes on Wynonna Earp

Harlots showrunners Moira Buffini and Alison Newman

Pictured: Harlots co-creators Moira Buffini and Alison Newman

Harlots was created by Moira Buffini and Alison Newman. In addition to being showrunners, Buffini and Newman also boast writing and producing credits for Harlots. What I love most about this series, besides its clever writing and brilliant performances, is the fact that the writing team is entirely comprised of women. Seldom is that the case with most TV shows. This is a wonderful step in the right direction and here’s hoping more period shows follow suit. 

GLOW showrunners Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive

Mandatory Credit: Photo by MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock (9669753c) Carly Mensch, Liz Flahive ‘Rebels and Rule Breakers’ FYC event, Los Angeles, USA – 12 May 2018

Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch are warriors! Flahive and Mensch are the creators/showrunners for Netflix’s female wrestling extravaganza GLOW. They’ve successfully managed to even out the scales in all aspects of their behind the scenes team. More notably, the majority of GLOW‘s directors are women, including the late and inimitable Lynn Shelton

Killjoys showrunner Michelle Lovretta

Pictured: Killjoys creator Michelle Lovretta

Now, I love seeing women dominate in the science fiction realm. Why? Because, initially, sci-fi was a “boys” thing. Girls aren’t supposed to like sci-fi! However, times are changing and with that comes more opportunities for women to work on science fiction properties. Michelle Lovretta is the mastermind behind Syfy’s KilljoysYou may also recall Lovretta’s other creation – Lost Girl. In addition, Killjoy‘s producers team boasts quite a few women at the helm. 

Killing Eve and Fleabag
Still of Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag.

Pictured: Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag

Who doesn’t worship at the altar of Phoebe Waller-Bridge? Waller-Bridge is the brilliant creator behind BBC America’s cat-and-mouse thriller Killing Eve. Killing Eve has strong, complex female characters and a bevy of excellent female writers. Not only that, but Waller-Bridge is also behind the critically acclaimed Fleabag – wherein she stars, writes, and produces! If you’re looking for more Waller-Bridge content to sate your appetite, might I suggest a little known BBC comedy called Crashing? Waller-Bridge writes and stars in it. 

Derry Girls
Derry Girls showrunner Lisa McGee

Pictured: Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee

Fun fact about me that nobody asked for: my ancestors hail from Londonderry (now known as Derry), Ireland. So, naturally, I felt spiritually connected to Derry GirlsLisa McGee is the creator, writer, and producer behind Netflix’s quaint Irish coming-of-age comedy. It’s bitingly funny, quick on its feet, and brimming with heart. Derry Girls‘ production team is also evening out the gender scales with women keeping it rolling behind the camera. 

Sex Education 
Sex Education showrunner Laurie Nunn

Pictured: Sex Education creator Laurie Nunn

Now, I wish my school had an underground sex therapy clinic. Sex Education was created by showrunner Laurie Nunn. Nunn is also part of the writing team. Half of Sex Education‘s episodic roster consists of female directors, which I think is the bee’s knees. Especially on a series that frequently details the mechanics behind the birds and the bees (I’ll see myself out). 

Russian Doll 
Russian Doll showrunner Leslye Headland

Pictured: Russian Doll co-creator Leslye Headland

Russian Doll is chaotically brilliant. Just fast-paced, in-your-face chaotic energy. Natasha Lyonne is not only the star of the show, but she’s also a co-creator and a writer. In addition, Leslye Headland is Lyonne’s creative partner. Oh, and the entire writing team boasts women – including Amy Poehler! We are women, hear us roar. 

Vagrant Queen 
Vagrant Queen showrunner Jem Garrad and Adriyan Rae on set of Vagrant Queen

Pictured: Jem Garrad and Vagrant Queen star Adriyan Rae on set

Vagrant Queen is Syfy’s little epic-space-opera-that-could. Jem Garrard is the showrunner. She adapted Vagrant Queen for television from its comic book co-creator Jason Smith. What I find intriguing is that Garrard also serves as a director for six out of Vagrant Queen‘s 10-episode first season and as the show’s head writer. Is there anything she can’t do? Vagrant Queen is yet another sci-fi show attempting to smash gender barriers in the production side of things and it’s certainly succeeding. 

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Well, that’s all I wrote! Do you have any favorite TV shows with female showrunners? Sound off in the comments below!


This article was originally published 5/25/20



Melody McCune
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