From a leading cultural journalist, the definitive cultural history of female showrunners—including exclusive interviews with such influential figures as Shonda Rhimes, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Mindy Kaling, Amy Schumer, and many more. “An urgent and entertaining history of the transformative powers of women in TV” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
In recent years, women have radically transformed the television industry both behind and in front of the camera. From Murphy Brown to 30 Rock and beyond, these shows and the extraordinary women behind them have shaken up the entertainment landscape, making it look as if equal opportunities abound. But it took decades of determination in the face of outright exclusion to reach this new era.
In this “sharp, funny, and gorgeously researched” (Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker) book, veteran journalist Joy Press tells the story of the maverick women who broke through the barricades and the iconic shows that redefined the television landscape starting with Diane English and Roseanne Barr—and even incited controversy that reached as far as the White House. Drawing on a wealth of original interviews with the key players like Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black), and Jill Soloway (Transparent) who created storylines and characters that changed how women are seen and how they see themselves, this is the exhilarating behind-the-scenes story of a cultural revolution.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A woman’s place is at the top of the credits. Veteran cultural critic Joy Press offers a rollicking and revealing look at the talented, whip-smart women responsible for many of the TV shows we love—from That Girl to Girls. Armed with a sharp wit and plenty of juicy insights, Press exposes the creative process behind some of the most groundbreaking (and successful) programs to light up our screens. Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television offers a fresh take on TV’s new golden age.
Women have run successful TV shows for decades, but they still routinely face bias and unreasonable obstacles in the industry, as Press (former Salon entertainment editor) details in this powerful narrative that expertly weaves reporting, analysis, and anecdotes. The author profiles 13 female showrunners and their most notable works, starting with Murphy Brown's Diane English and ending with Transparent's Jill Soloway. What comes across in Press's 30-year timeline is how little has changed: barriers are erected and women clear them time and again. English calmly battled network executives over details (such as how long Murphy Brown was to have been married in the show), while Soloway had to shed a reputation for being "difficult," which Press notes "is the second-ugliest word for a woman in Hollywood to hear next to unrelatable.' " The shows have grown bolder and more complex as for example in the blunt frankness of Lena Dunham's Girls or in Weeds' Nancy Botwin's flirtation with being "an actively bad mother" but a troubling culture remains: "The fact that forces of repression are now emboldened and energized," Press writes, translates to a "vital and urgent" need for "diverse and unconventional voices." Press's chronicle of a pop-culture movement should inspire a new generation of women creators.