Even in 2019, the TV and film industries have a lingering diversity problem. It’s no secret that entertainment is run by men, with only 33% of shows from the 2018-2019 season having been created by women. While this certainly isn’t ideal though, there are a handful of truly spectacular shows by female showrunners.
These, in 2019, have been four of the best.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a powerhouse who deserves all the accolades that are thrown her way. Her comedy Fleabag is nothing short of a masterpiece. The series, based on Waller-Briidger’s one-woman show, somehow manages to be cringe-inducing and incredibly heartbreaking at the same time. The audience roots for, or at least empathizes with an extremely flawed character, known simply as Fleabag. And the show’s revolutionary experimentation with breaking the fourth wall is a testament to Waller-Bridge’s ability as a writer and creator. At this year’s Emmys, the television creator acknowledged that it takes quite a bit of hard work to write such a beautiful show.
“I find writing really, really hard and really painful,” said Waller-Bridge during her acceptance speech for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. “I’d like to say, honestly, from the bottom of my heart, that the reason I do it is this.”
Speaking of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, she’s also the genius behind the BBC spy thriller Killing Eve. To put it lightly this series about an obsessive M15 agent and charming, psychopathic female assassin (expertly portrayed by Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, respectively) is more intense – and much bloodier – than Fleabag. That being said, the story is just as compelling and the dialogue is just as punchy. There’s no wonder why Waller-Bridge dominated the Emmys even beyond the aforementioned award (she took home three total).
When it comes to Russian Doll, Natasha Lyonne wears many hats. She’s the creator, director, executive producer, and star of the acclaimed Netflix series. The show is essentially a grittier, modern take on the iconic film Groundhog Day, and tells the story of Nadia Vulvokov, an unstable woman who is forced to relive her 36th birthday. While it plays with the arguably overdone time-loop trope, the series offers a unique experience. And despite it being labeled as a comedy, both the writing and acting is painful and raw.
Even though Ms. Waller-Bridge swept this year’s Emmys clean, Lyonne was just as deserving, and is expected to contest some similar awards come Golden Globes time. Among the internet’s newer betting sites, many now offer regular odds for award shows of this size, and it should be fun to watch the battle between these two in these outlooks. Russian Doll ought to be a serious contender for Best Television Series (Musical or Comedy), at the least.
Unbelievable makes for a difficult viewing experience. And that’s all the more reason to watch it. The Netflix miniseries, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” details the harrowing experience of a young woman who was sexually assaulted – and not believed by police. Two of the series’ co-creators are women who have significant experience on how to craft a female-driven narrative. Ayelet Waldman is best known for her mystery novels, The Mommy-Track Mysteries, and Susannah Grant is the screenwriter behind Ever After and Erin Brockovich. Both of their talents are on full display in this disturbing but stunning series.