Huffpost Entertainment
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Melissa Silverstein Headshot

What is This 1950? Women Are Missing as TV Creators

Posted: Updated:

It's pilot time in Hollywood. The time of the year when all the networks look at the submitted scripts and decide which ones to take to pilot. Then after they see the pilots, the networks then decide which shows to put on the air next season. It is a cut throat and difficult process.

One thing we started this year on the blog is to track the scripts and pilots written by and about women.

Clearly I missed the bigger picture.

While there are a fair amount of pilots about women, the story here is the lack of women who are writing and creating the shows. The only way I know about this is from a very disturbing email from a reader who sent me info that came from a high level female TV executive. This is an industry wide problem and 2010 is way worse for women creators than it was in 2009.

Now remember, TV is supposed to be better than the movies. Why? Because TV people know that women watch TV and advertisers want women viewers because they want us to buy their products. Simple. So wouldn't it make sense to have more women creating shows? I guess we are now going to have to be as vigilant about our TV watching as we are about our moviegoing. Deliberately supporting the women created shows so they are successful so that more get made. What also pisses me off is that there are women at all levels of the decision making structure at the TV networks. So again the question is, why are women being passed over?

Here are some stats about women in the business:

According to the Center for Study of Women in TV and Film, in 2008, women made up 25% creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography working on situation comedies, dramas, and reality programs.

Women make up 23% of executive producers. Usually all creators get an executive producer credit and there are always other executive producers besides the creator. While I know of no comprehensive list that lists all the creators and executive producers by gender, extrapolating from the data above you could probably guess that women maybe make up around 10% of show creators and showrunners (and I'm probably being generous.)

Here's the info I got about this year's pilot season:

In 2010 - 3 out of 33 comedy scripts that went to pilot were written by women. That is 9%.
In 2010 - 6 out of 36 drama scripts went to pilot were written by women. That is 16%.

In 2009 - 9 out of 43 comedy scripts that went to pilot were written by women. That is 20%.
In 2009 - 10 of 44 drama scripts that went to pilot were written by women. That is 22%.

The numbers are getting worse.

NBC had no comedies written by women and Fox had no dramas written by women
HBO had one female written pilot in two years. FX nothing. Lifetime nothing. USA nothing.

Here is the list of scripts that are being made into pilots (and some that have already been picked up for series ) written and created by women:

ABC Drama Series

Scoundrels - Richard Levine & Lyn Greene

ABC Pilots

Comedy: Awkward Situations for Men - Jeff & Jackie Filgo; Untitled Goldberg-Meehan Shana Goldberg-Meehan; Women are Crazy, Men are Stupid - Howard Morris & Jenny Lee

Drama: Cuthroat - Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters; Off the Map - Jenna Bans; Untitled. Yuspa & Goldsmith Cathy Yuspa & Josh Goldsmith

CBS Pilots

Comedy: Open Books - Gail Lerner

Drama: I, Witness - Pam Veasey

CW Pilots

Drama pilots: Betwixt - Liz Chandler; The Wyoming Project - Amy Sherman Palladino & Dan Palladino

Fox Pilots

Drama: Daylight Robbery- Karyn Usher

NBC Pilots

Drama: The Chase- Jennifer Johnson; Love Bites- Cindy Chupack

A&E Pilots

Drama: The Quickening- Jennifer Salt

ABC Family Pilots

Drama: Pretty Little Liars- Marlene King; Huge- Savanah Dooley & Winnie Holzman

AMC Pilots

Drama: The Killing- Veena Sud

Disney Channel Pilots

Comedy: Janet Saves the Planet- Billy Van Zandt & Janet Milmore; Smart Alec Ellen Byron & LIssa Kapstrom

SYFY Pilots

Drama: Being Human Ellen Byron & LIssa Kapstrom

Showtime Series

Comedy: The Big C- Darlene Hunt

TNT Series

Originally Posted at Women & Hollywood

Drama: Rizzoli - Janet Tamaro; Delta Blues Joshua Horto & Liz Garcia