Showrunning has to be one of the most trying jobs throughout the world of television. You’re putting in longer hours than anyone else even though everyone just assumes you’re off somewhere vacationing after a renewal comes out. Instead, you’re in the writers room, overseeing matters on set, finding music, working in the editing room, deciding on casting, or doing hundreds of other jobs. Even if you delegate many of the tasks, you are still responsible for getting together the product that comes out in the end.
The reason that we created a CarterMatt “Best of 2013” category for Favorite Showrunner this year is to recognize some of the people behind your favorite shows … especially those who really go above and beyond to communicate with fans and keep you up to speed on what is going on behind the scenes. Often you see some of these people recognized at awards shows, but rarely as individuals. This is to give these people credit, and to also differentiate them slightly from the overall product they create. (With that being said, you’ll see some of these same shows recognized as Show of the Year nominees later in the week.)
Adam Horowitz, “Once Upon a Time” / “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (ABC) – He co-runs these shows with Edward Kitsis, but what impresses us about Adam is that he not only works on one show with a huge (and outspoken) fanbase, but he takes the time on Twitter to do regular fan art contests and Q&A sessions (which isn’t always easy, since some “fans” are not always nice). This isn’t something that he has to do, but he is a strong voice behind production and proof that they do listen to what fans say.
Dan Harmon, “Community” (NBC) – Dan certainly holds the title of “notorious” courtesy of some of his headlines, but sensationalism aside, there is probably no better TV equivalent of a mad scientist in how he crafts and implements ideas. Plus, in addition to being extremely generous to fans, we’ve been so impressed this year with how he and his casting team have managed to assemble so many awesome names for the upcoming fifth season, even though he wasn’t a part of the fourth.
Julie Plec, “The Vampire Diaries” / “The Originals” / “The Tomorrow People” (The CW) – She may have help on some of these shows, but the fact that Julie can do all three of them and still sleep is somewhat astounding. Then, she still has time to promote what her actors are up to away from work, reach out to fans, and then promote various awards nominations. She definitely helps to make the Mystic Falls community that much more active.
Kurt Sutter, “Sons of Anarchy” (FX) – The best word we could use to describe Sutter is loyal, whether you are talking about his show, his fans, or anyone who works with him. There is probably no other showrunner who puts as much of themselves not just into the development in all aspects of their show, but also finding new ways to reach out to fans with his personalized videos, Twitter Q&As, or just updates about headlines or castings. Some of his tweets are not for the faint of heart, but his brazen sense of humor and his talent are what make his fans share the same sort of loyalty with him.
Marlene King, “Pretty Little Liars” / “Ravenswood” (ABC Family) – Similar to a few others on this list, King (who works extensively with Oliver Goldstick and others) really takes the time to answer questions from fans regularly and share production updates. To think, she also is busy with two shows with heavy episode counts. She’s probably one of the more accessible showrunners online, which is great if you have a quick question that can be answered succinctly.
Ryan Murphy, “Glee” / “American Horror Story” (Fox, FX) – “Glee” has obviously been a polarizing show since the beginning, but what we give Ryan credit for now is being such a risk-taker. Just getting his own twisted high school musical on network TV for five seasons is an achievement. Also, how about bringing the anthology back in “American Horror story,” where he can come up with an entirely new concept every year with much of the same cast? This a great way to keep tension high in a horror genre where it’d be hard to sustain a story beyond 13-16 episodes. In addition to all of this, he’s one of the kinder, more informative showrunners you can follow online.
Shonda Rhimes, “Grey’s Anatomy” / “Scandal” (ABC) – Shonda is funny, open to take on fans’ concerns, and also mindful and attentive to the rest of the industry. She’s also had on two of the more influential dramas of the past decade. Her presence alone makes her worthy of a Twitter follow, but she is also fairly accessible through most of the time her shows are in production. Anytime that you ask her a question, you know you’re going to get an honest and at times entertaining answer.
Vince Gilligan, “Breaking Bad” (AMC) – The only showrunner on this list without a Twitter account, but the reason that Vince has to be included here isn’t just because “Breaking Bad” is awesome. It’s because he has such a positive reputation among many, he finds a variety of ways to interact with fans, and he is a guy who actors love to work for. While there are two shows in development with him right now in “Better Call Saul” and “Battle Creek,” he won’t be the primary showrunner on either one of them. We can’t imagine what the line out the door will be for casting of the next show he does step into full-time.
Who is your favorite showrunner of 2013? Be sure to share in the poll below! (The results will be announced on Friday, December 20.) Also, click here if you are curious to see the rest of our nominees in the Best of 2013 series.