Opportunities, pay parity, and awards recognition haven’t always reflected it, but it’s a fact: female showrunners have long been responsible for much of the best TV has to offer. Now, finally, as our round-up of superstar showrunners exemplifies, the women running TV are getting the deals, and accolades, they’ve long deserved.
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How You Know Waller-Bridge: After creating and starring in the U.K. dramedy Crashing, she broke out by creating and starring in the Emmy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG-winning dramedy Fleabag, for which she was also showrunner, and she was the executive producer and showrunner for the first season of the thriller series Killing Eve.
Upcoming Projects: She’s the creator and executive producer of (and an actor in) HBO’s romantic comedy–adventure series Run, starring Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson. It premieres on April 12.
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How You Know Khan: She created and was the executive producer and showrunner for the short-lived, but memorable Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, and then created and was the executive producer and showrunner for ABC’s recently concluded sitcom Fresh Off the Boat.
Upcoming Projects: She will write and serve as showrunner for Young Rock, NBC’s comedy about and starring Dwayne Johnson, and inspired by the action star’s formative years. She is also developing a dark comedy about a female serial killer, which reunites her with Don’t Trust the B—- star Krysten Ritter, and she’s executive producer on ABC comedy pilot Valley Trash, starring Jason Lee.
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How You Know Noxon: She’s been developing strong female characters on TV for decades while being a showrunner on everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Private Practice to Dietland and Sharp Objects.
Upcoming Projects: Nixon is developing new series projects as part of an overall deal with Netflix.
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How You Know Chaiken: She created and was showrunner for the autobiographical series The L Word (and is an executive producer on the reboot series The L Word: Generation Q), and helped develop the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale (on which she is an executive producer), but left the project to become the showrunner on Fox’s Empire. She’s a consulting producer on ABC’s Stumptown.
Upcoming Projects: Along with The L Word star Jennifer Beals, Chaiken is developing for Freeform an adaptation of Taylor Jenkin Reid’s novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, a drama about a young journalist chosen by a Golden Age of Hollywood star to write her final tell-all book.
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How You Know Ehrin: She was an Emmy nominee for her producing work on The Wonder Years and Friday Night Lights, before co-creating and being showrunner on stellar A&E Psycho prequel series Bates Motel.
Upcoming Projects: She will continue as showrunner of Apple TV+ drama series The Morning Show, and will develop new series for the streaming service as part of a multi-year deal with Apple.
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How You Know Fey: After her stint as head writer and Weekend Update co-host on Saturday Night Live and roles as creator, executive producer, and star of 30 Rock, the Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, WGA, and Peabody Award winner was co-creator and co-showrunner of the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Upcoming Projects: She is co-creator and executive producer on NBC’s still-untitled Ted Danson comedy, about a wealthy businessman (Danson) who runs for mayor of Los Angeles, but has no idea how to actually do the job after he wins. She’s also an EP on Girls5Eva, a Peacock comedy about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the 1990s who reunite to give pop stardom another shot.
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How You Know Sherman-Palladino: She was a writer on Roseanne before creating, executive producing, and serving as showrunner on the beloved dramedy Gilmore Girls. She was also creator, EP, and showrunner of Bunheads and the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life miniseries for Netflix and the multiple Emmy winner The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon.
Upcoming Projects: She is working on a fourth season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
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How You Know Bowser: She is the first African-American woman to create her own primetime series with the classic comedy Living Single, and she’s the showrunner for the Netflix drama Dear White People.
Upcoming Projects: She is showrunner for the fourth and final season of Dear White People, and she created the Starz series Run the World, about “four vibrant, fiercely loyal best friends who work, live, and play in Harlem as they strive for world domination,” according to THR.com.
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How You Know Rhimes: As the creator, head writer, executive producer, and original showrunner of Grey’s Anatomy, which is currently in its 16th season on ABC. She also created and has executive produced Scandal, Private Practice, How to Get Away with Murder, The Catch, Station 19, and more.
Upcoming Projects: Under her development deal with Netflix – estimated to be worth between $100 million–$150 million – Rhimes created and is executive producer of the Netflix drama Inventing Anna, based on the New York Magazine article about a woman (played by Julia Garner) who tricked a group of New Yorkers into funding her extravagant life.
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How You Know Kellett: In addition being an actress on How I Met Your Mother, Jane the Virgin, Dead to Me, and Trophy Wife, she was also a writer and producer on HIMYM, Rules of Engagement, Devious Maids, and iZombie, and is co-creator and showrunner of the bicultural remake of Norman Lear’s family comedy One Day at a Time.
Upcoming Projects: The fourth season of One Day at a Time, which premieres on Pop TV on March 24. She also became the first Hispanic female to sign an eight-figure development deal, which begins in June 2020 at Amazon Studios.
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How You Know Soloway: After stints as a writer on The Steve Harvey Show, Nikki, and The Oblongs, Soloway became a writer and co-producer on Six Feet Under. Also an author, Soloway wrote episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Dirty Sexy Money and was the showrunner of Showtime’s United States of Tara before creating, writing, executive producing, and showrunning the groundbreaking, Emmy-winning Amazon family drama Transparent.
Upcoming Projects: Soloway is focusing on big-screen projects right now, including writing and directing Red Sonja and Mothertrucker, and directing a biopic about astronaut Sally Ride.
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How You Know Kauffman: She’s the co-creator and co-showrunner of Friends. She also co-created the HBO comedy Dream On, as well as Veronica’s Closet, and co-created and has been the showrunner of the Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie.
Upcoming Projects: The seventh, and final, season of Grace and Frankie and HBO Max’s Friends reunion special.
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How You Know Kohan: She wrote episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Mad About You, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, and Will & Grace, before she created, executive produced, and was showrunner of the dramedies Weeds and Orange Is the New Black, and is an executive producer on the Netflix dramedy GLOW. She also shared an Emmy as a supervising producer for the Tracey Ullman comedy Tracey Takes On….
Upcoming Projects: As part of an overall deal with Netflix, she is an executive producer on the comedy Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters, about a set of teenage twins who juggle working with a bounty hunter with their usual high school student lives.
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How You Know DuVernay: In addition to her big-screen work, she created, directed, executive produced, and co-wrote the Emmy-winning Netflix miniseries When They See Us, the true story of the “Central Park Five,” young minority men who were falsely accused of the rape of a jogger in NYC’s Central Park. She is also the creator, executive producer, and sometime writer and director of the OWN drama Queen Sugar, and created and executive produced the OWN romantic drama anthology series Cherish the Day.
Upcoming Projects: She will executive produce an Amazon adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s 1987 novel Dawn, about an African-American woman who is tasked by aliens with bringing back the human race 250 years after a nuclear war destroys Earth. The Oscar nominee is also directing the pilot for the HBO Max drama DMZ, about a second American Civil War.
How You Know Brown: You probably don’t, but you should. After being hired to write episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Partridge Family, and The Bob Newhart Show, Brown was hired to write an episode of the MTM Show spin-off Rhoda, and eventually became an executive producer, and the first female showrunner of a primetime sitcom.
Upcoming Projects: Brown retired from Hollywood work after executive producing the 1995 Kirk Cameron sitcom Kirk on The WB.
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How You Know Rae: In addition to starring in (and receiving Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for her performance on) HBO’s Insecure, Rae also created the autobiographical show and has served as its showrunner.
Upcoming Projects: Season 4 of Insecure, which premieres in April, and a second season of A Black Lady Sketch Show, the comedy she executive produces for HBO. The entrepreneurial star also started her own record label, opened a coffee shop in Los Angeles, and is co-owner of a streaming analytics business.
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How You Know Urman: After working on Hope & Faith, Gilmore Girls, and 90210, she became the executive producer and showrunner of Jane the Virgin.
Upcoming Projects: As part of her five-year deal with CBS Television Studios, Urman will be an executive producer on Broke, the CBS sitcom about a man (Jane the Virgin alum Jaime Cahill) and his wife who decide to move in with his sister-in-law (Pauley Perrette) after his father cuts him off financially.
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How You Know McKenna: After writing the screenplay for The Devil Wears Prada, McKenna teamed with Rachel Bloom to create Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, originally for Showtime, before the clever, critically-acclaimed musical series landed at The CW, with McKenna as the showrunner.
Upcoming Projects: McKenna recently signed a three-year deal with ABC Studios, which includes the musical comedy series Hit, about a pop star whose record label sends her to a songwriting boot camp.
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How You Know Jacobson and Glazer: As the creators, stars, and showrunners of the late, great Comedy Central series Broad City.
Upcoming Projects: Comedy Central is rife with projects from Broad City alums, who cite Jacobson and Glazer as supportive inspirations. The longtime friends, who will continue to produce projects together, also have solo efforts in the works. Jacobson will executive produce and star in Amazon’s series adaptation of A League of Their Own, while Glazer recently released a comedy special, Ilana Glazer: The Planet Is Burning, on Amazon.
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How You Know Plec: As showrunner of The Vampire Diaries and its spin-off, The Originals, and now that spin-off’s spin-off, Legacies. Plec is also an executive producer on The CW’s Roswell, New Mexico.
Upcoming Projects: Plec co-created and will executive produce the Netflix drama The Girls on the Bus, about female political reporters. The series is based on a chapter in the Hillary Clinton campaign memoir Chasing Hillary, by Amy Chozick.
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Upcoming Projects: Developing additional series under her four-year, reportedly eight-figure deal with 20th Century Fox TV.
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How You Know Kemp: After writing for series like The Good Wife and The Bernie Mac Show, she created Starz’ Power universe.
Upcoming Projects: Power ended its six-season run as one of Starz’ highest-rated shows in February, but Kemp is creating four spin-off series, including a prequel and three sequel series.
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Upcoming Projects: She is an executive producer on Showtime’s Bryan Cranston drama Your Honor, about a judge (Cranston) who tries to protect his son from the mafia.
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How You Know Akil: As the creator of Girlfriends and its spin-off series, The Game, as a producer on writer on Cougar Town, and as the creator of the BET drama Being Mary Jane. She is currently an executive producer on The CW superhero drama Black Lightning.
Upcoming Projects: She recently signed a deal with Fox Entertainment to create and write a scripted series for the Fox network.
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How You Know Kang: She’s been a story editor, producer, and co-executive producer on The Walking Dead, and, since season 9, the AMC zombie series’ showrunner.
Upcoming Projects: More TWD. Despite recently losing three of the drama’s lead cast members – Andy Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, and, soon. Danai Gurira – Kang’s current season as showrunner is drawing rave reviews from fans and critics.
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How You Know English: She created – and won three Emmys for – the groundbreaking CBS comedy Murphy Brown, about the smart, opinionated, controversial titular TV newswoman played by Candice Bergen.
Upcoming Projects: English was an executive producer on the short-lived Murphy reboot on CBS in 2018.
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How You Know Bloodworth-Thomason: She created another of the most classic sitcoms of the 1980s, the CBS comedy Designing Women, which also revolved around a group of strong, opinionated female characters who operate an interior design firm. Women and Murphy Brown aired back-to-back on CBS’ Monday nights for two seasons.
Upcoming Projects: As of 2018, Thomason was writing and executive producing a Designing Women sequel for ABC.
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How You Know Hissrich: She followed work as an executive producer and writer on Private Practice, Parenthood, Power, and The Umbrella Academy with creating and showrunning the Netflix fantasy series The Witcher, based on the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski.
Upcoming Projects: She returns as showrunner for season 2 of The Witcher – one of Netflix’s most popular series – planned for 2021, and is also developing a spin-off anime film, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf.
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How You Know Averill: She was a writer and producer on The Good Wife, created The CW sci-fi teen drama Star-Crossed, and was a producer on Jane the Virgin before serving as executive producer and co-showrunner on The Haunting of Hill House for Netflix. Currently, she’s an EP and co-showrunner for Netflix’s adaptation of the graphic novel Locke & Key.
Upcoming Projects: While awaiting a decision on another season of the recently completed Locke & Key premiere run, Averill told io9 she’d like to pitch a modern series adaptation of Nightmare on Elm Street, one that would employ her trademark tone of mixing supernatural, horror themes with a more grounded, emotional story.
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How You Know Berger: She’s a co-showrunner on This Is Us, TV’s top drama.
Upcoming Projects: She’s co-creator and an executive producer on Love, Victor, the Hulu series that’s set in the same world as the movie Love, Simon, which she co-wrote, and her production company is behind 90s Popstar, an ABC movie about a Florida teen whose life changes overnight when she becomes a famous pop star.
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How You Know Kaling: While she was playing Kelly Kapoor on The Office, she was also a writer, director, and executive producer on the NBC comedy. She followed that up by creating, starring in, and executive producing The Mindy Project, and last year co-created and executive produced the Four Weddings and a Funeral miniseries for Hulu.
Upcoming Projects: Kaling co-created and is an executive producer on the autobiographical Netflix coming-of-age dramedy Never Have I Ever, about a first-generation Indian American teenage girl. The series will premiere later this year.
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How You Know Vernoff: After writing and producing for Law & Order, Charmed, Private Practice, and Shameless, she became the Grey’s Anatomy showrunner in 2007. Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes has credited Vernoff as the person responsible for injecting all those “Seriously?!”s into the drama.
Upcoming Projects: Vernoff took over as showrunner for the third season of Grey’s spin-off Station 19, which premiered in January. She’s also writing and executive producing the ABC drama pilot Rebel, starring Katey Sagal as a character inspired by Erin Brockovich.
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How You Know Flahive and Mensch: Their joint resumes included producing and writing on Homeland, Nurse Jackie, Orange Is the New Black, and Weeds before they began giving us heart, humor, complex characters, and, of course, female wrestling, while steering the ship on the Netflix dramedy they created, GLOW.
Upcoming Projects: The fourth, and final, season of GLOW is expected to hit Netflix later this year, and Flahive and Mensch are teaming with producer Nicole Kidman to adapt Cecilia Ahern’s short story collection Roar as a series.
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How You Know Tigelaar: She’s been a producer and writer on Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Nashville, and Bates Motel, and became the showrunner and an executive producer on the Hulu comedy Casual.
Upcoming Projects: She is the showrunner for Hulu’s upcoming drama series Little Fires Everywhere, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, and will also adapt July Blume’s 1998 adult novel Summer Sisters as a limited series for Hulu.
How You Know Gamble: She was a showrunner for two seasons on Supernatural, and is the co-creator, EP, and showrunner for the Syfy adaptation of Lev Grossman’s bestselling novel The Magicians. Gamble also co-created and serves as showrunner of the Lifetime-to-Netflix adaptation of Caroline Kepnes’ bestselling novel You.
Upcoming Projects: She’s an EP on the upcoming Apple TV+ dramedy Physical, starring Rose Byrne as a 1980s housewife who finds happiness via aerobics, and will develop series for NBCUniversal networks like USA, Syfy, and streaming service Peacock, as well as Netflix, as part of her new overall deal with Universal Content Productions.
How You Know Cox: She’s the co-creator and writer on SeaChange, the 1998-2000 Australian drama about the big-city lawyer who moves to a small town filled with colorful characters (the Aussie answer to Gilmore Girls), which was rebooted in 2019. She also created, with producing partner Fiona Eagger, the Australian drama series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which spawned the spin-off series Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries and the feature film Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears.
Upcoming Projects: Her Every Cloud Productions company, a joint venture with Eagger, is developing a remake of the classic Australian family drama series Seven Little Australians and is awaiting word on another season of the SeaChange reboot.
How You Know Covell: She’s an actress and writer whose British series adaptation of the graphic comic series The End of the F***king World became a hit that was picked up by Netflix and became a U.S. streaming hit that earned an Emmy nomination and a Peabody Award.
Upcoming Projects: She created the Netflix series Kaos, a “genre-bending series (that) puts a modern twist on Greek and Roman mythology, exploring themes of gender politics, power, and life in the underworld.”
How You Know Ravagli: She co-created the Italian mob drama Gomorrah, which was more popular in Italy than Game of Thrones, and aired in the U.S. on SundanceTV. She also co-wrote the 2019 spin-off film, The Immortal, and is a writer and producer on the follow-up Italian crime drama ZeroZeroZero, starring Andrea Riseborough and Gabriel Byrne, which premiered in the U.S. on Prime Video earlier this year.
Upcoming Projects: Developing a fifth season of Gomorrah, a series that has now been sold in more than 170 countries.