In January alone, TV will have lost, to cancellation or we’ve-been-on-for-7-seasons, three of its most powerful and talented minds in Tina Fey, Dana Fox, and Nahnatchka Khan. This is a bummer for two reasons, 1) 30 Rock, Ben and Kate, and Don’t Trust are excellent, and 2) the trio listed above are all female, and despite infuriating troll arguments to the contrary, there aren’t enough women TV writers. Jezebel’s Laura Beck wrote an article about this yesterday entitled “The Sh*t My Dad Says Guy Gets Another Sitcom, But Where Are All the Women Writers?” which made some very good points, but, on top of the misplaced targeting of Justin Halpern, a producer for Cougar Town — a show led by two strong women with multiple female writers — also explained the issue, but offered few solutions.
I don’t doubt that Halpern might be a swell guy, but his shows are indicative of the type of ideas that are often given initial opportunities (and second chances) in the TV industry. A white guy telling his story is agonizingly familiar territory, and yet it’s awarded a rich pilot production commitment from a major studio. When I hear news like this, I can’t help but think about all the challenging, unique, and better ideas that are passed over for the same old shit — and I bet a lot of them come from women.
Yes, there are exceptions, not every show on TV is about a white dude, or run by a white dude, but there aren’t nearly as many women writing shows as there are men. A 2012 Center for Study of Women in TV and Film study found that 68% of all TV shows don’t even have one female writer on staff. (Via)
But enough about what us dumb bloggers think about the issue — let’s hear from The Shield and Terriers creator Shawn Ryan, who shared his thoughts on the article. Start reading from the bottom because I’m lazy.
Here’s what Chitra Elizabeth Sampath, a writer for Southland, had to say about the study:
So what did we learn? Well: there should be more females writing for TV shows, but it’s slowly getting better. There are women on the writing staffs for Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Community, Happy Endings, The League, Parks and Recreation, New Girl, Bob’s Burgers, Archer, and a bunch of our other favorites series — hell, even Louie, which I’d argue is TV’s most “male” show. Also, don’t quite bunk studies.
My solution to the issue: give me a show, some network, and I’ll hire ONLY female writers. Deal, AMC?