Though from our arm chairs and couches we viewers offer our own opinion week by week to how a show should be, sometimes we cannot see the true difficulty of the life of the Showrunner. Though the term is relatively new to our tv-watching lexicon, a Showrunner is usually that Producer who is set to make sense of everything from casting to the scripts. Being a Showrunner is possibly the most difficult job associated with a TV show. In the new book by Tara Bennet, Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show, we the viewer get a look into all the work that goes into creating a TV show.
Including interviews with the likes of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly), Damon Lindelof (Lost), Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and Jane Epenson (Caprica, Husbands) the book quickly strips away the illusions created in a world where Showrunners are now stars themselves. Though Eric Kripke and Steven Moffat do not make appearances in this book, it is easy to see the direction they too many be coming from.
Possibly the most fascinating section in the book is on Showrunners who are women, minorities (or both). Though it has been slow going, women are now starting to climb in at 34% of television writers, 27% of producers and 24% of series creators, per the book. We have a long way to go, but the future looks much better. Jane Epenson divulges the difficulties of being a woman in the Showrunner field, but also admits to both her strength and flaws with equal measure. It gave me a sense of appreciation for women in the media field, even if much of the book is about the impact of male Showrunners.
Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Showis designed to be a companion piece for the documentary of the same name, but in no means does it require a watch before reading the book. However, after reading the book I am greatly interested in viewing the documentary directed by Des Doyle. Tara Bennet does a great job of capturing both the delights and dramas in the life of a Showrunner.
Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show by Tara Bennet is now available from Titan Books.