There is so much disappointing information in the media about the lack of opportunity for female directors in Hollywood. It seems like every week another infograph or pie chart is released that shows the same depressing numbers.
Female directors are drastically underrepresented in Hollywood. This is part of the reason why I try to go out of my way to support the work of female filmmakers. If there’s a film playing at the cinema directed by a woman, I’m much more likely to get off my butt, go buy a ticket and see it in the theater rather than wait for it to come on Netflix or VOD. Hollywood needs to see that female filmmakers are profitable at the box office, because currently most studio execs won’t give them a chance.
Word on the street is that the television world is ever so slightly easier for female directors to break into. This got me curious about the TV I watch. I jumped on IMDB to find out if the shows I watch regularly hire female directors, and I gotta say, the results were a little surprising. Many shows that have female protagonists and are targeted at women still only hire white male directors. This was a bummer. But there were a few shows whose list of directors gave me hope. Here are some of those shows that are working to fix the gender imbalance for directors in Hollywood.
Transparent – Amazon TV
Creator & Showrunner Jill Soloway is a huge advocate for female directors in Hollywood and she certainly puts her money where her mouth is when it comes to her own show. Soloway directed many of the episodes herself, but of the 9 episodes directed by guest directors, 7 of them were directed by a female. Among these talented ladies were Andrea Arnold, director of the brilliant film Fish Tank and Marielle Heller, who directed what I thought was the best film of last year The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Soloway sure knows how to pick em’.
No other show that I watch even came close to Transparent in terms of hiring female directors but these few deserve an honorable mention:
Orange Is The New Black – Netflix
Created by Jenji Kohan, OITNB has hired 10 female directors! Yeah baby! Unfortunately, most of these women have only directed one or two episodes, so the majority of episodes have still been directed by a handful of white men. Still, OITNB scored better than most in this race.
Scandal – ABC
Scandal has had a lot of directors; 30 in total, but the nice news is, out of that 30, 12 of them were female. Thank you Shonda Rhimes! It’s also worth noting that the other shows coming out of “Shondaland” don’t score too badly either when it comes to hiring female directors.
Empire – FOX
Out of 30 episodes, 10 were directed by women. And showrunner Lee Daniels gets extra points for diversity because of all the men who directed episodes, several are men of color.
GIRLS – HBO
Creator, Lena Dunham has directed 17 episodes herself, which makes sense, since this show is her baby; She also writes and stars in every episode so she’s a bit of a multitalented bad ass. 15 episodes were directed by someone named Jesse Peretz. I got all excited when I read this, thinking that Jesse had to be a woman. But nope, I was wrong. He’s a white dude. Pretty disappointing, especially considering the show is called “GIRLS”, but 7 other episodes of the show were directed by women, which I guess is better than zero.
One interesting thing to note is that there’s a common theme among these shows. They all have diverse showrunners. So it seems diverse showrunners are more likely to hire diverse staff.
These are just the shows that I watch, so if you know of any others great shows that are working to fix the gender imbalance in the directors chair, feel free to list them in the comments section and I’ll be sure to check them out!