María-José Higueras-Ruiz e-mail(Login required) , Francisco-Javier Gómez-Pérez e-mail(Login required) , Jordi Alberich-Pascual e-mail(Login required)

Main Article Content


María-José Higueras-Ruiz e-mail(Login required)
Francisco-Javier Gómez-Pérez e-mail(Login required)
Jordi Alberich-Pascual e-mail(Login required)



Contemporary fiction TV series production in North America is characterized by the showrunner figure’s importance. This paper aims to study the concept of “showrunner” as executive-creative producer, analyze the competencies and responsibilities carried out by them during the production process of TV shows according to personal and professional factors, and examine their position within the current television market. For this purpose, a literature review on fiction TV series production and television authorship has been conducted. After this, adopting the focus of media production studies, a qualitative methodology based on in-depth personal interviews has been used, which was carried out with a selection of thirty-six significant executive producers and writers of contemporary American TV series. The findings indicate the relevance of this profile from a historical perspective, and particularly in recent years. Although there is a basic scheme of tasks developed by the showrunner in each phase of the production process, we find differences in this actuation due to personal –sex and nationality– and professional –format/gender and channel– characteristics in this industrial context. The showrunner develops an executive-creative dual profile to maintain the project’s coherence according to the established vision. Their influence over the TV series’ creative features contributes to reflection on television authorship and its attribution to this figure.


showrunner, TV Series, Media Production Studies, Television industry, Television authorship, North America


Bennett, T. (2014). Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show. London: Titan Books.

Blakey, E. (2017). Showrunner as Auteur: Bridging the Culture/Economy Binary in Digital Hollywood. Open Cultural Studies, 1(1), 321-332.

Bruun, H. (2016). The Qualitative Interview in Media Production Studies. In C. Paterson, D. Lee, A. Saha & A. Zoellner (Eds.), Advancing Media Production Research: Shifting Sites, Methods, and Politics (pp. 131-146). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Butler, J. G. (2012). Television. Critical Methods and Applications (4th ed.). New York: Routledge.

Caldwell, J. T. (2008). Production Culture. Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television. London: Duke University Press.

Cascajosa-Virino, C. (2016). El ascenso de los ‘showrunners’: creación y prestigio crítico en la televisión contemporánea. Index Comunicación, 6(2), 23-40. Retrieved from

Cascajosa-Virino, C. (2018). The emergence of the showrunner in global contemporary TV fiction: The case of Pau Freixas in Catalonia. Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies, 10(1), 125-132.

Cavallero, J. J. (2017). Written out of the Story: Issues of Television Authorship, Reception, and Ethnicity in NBC’s “Marty.” Cinema Journal, 56(3), 47-73.

Clements, S. (2004). Showrunner. Producing variety and talk shows for television. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press.

Collie, C. (2007). The Business of TV Production. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cury, I. (2007). Directing and Producing for Television (3rd ed.). Burlington: Focal Press.

Del Valle, R. (2008). The One-Hour Drama Series: Producing Episodic Television. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press.

Gervich, C. (2008). Small Screen, Big Picture. A Writer’s Guide to the TV Business. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Heuman, J. (2017). Who’s Running the Show?: Negotiating Authorship in Post-Fin-Syn Writer-Producer Deals. The Velvet Light Trap, 80, 32-47.

Higueras-Ruiz, M. J., Gómez-Pérez, F. J. & Alberich-Pascual, J. (2018). Historical Review and Contemporary Characterization of Showrunner as Professional Profile in TV Series Production: Traits, Skills, Competences, and Style. Communication & Society, 31(1), 91-106. Retrieved from

Hunter, A. (2016). Performance as Authorship: Sarah Michelle Gellar and Buffy Season 6. Journal of Film and Video, 68(3-4), 51-68.

Junke, D. (2020). The showrunner as televisual auteur in promotional materials_ a case study of posters for David Simon’s television shows. Prace Kulturoznawcze, 24(4), 77-91.

Kellison, C. (2009). Producing for TV and New Media: A Real-World Approach for Producers (2nd ed.). Burlington: Focal Press.

Kubey, R. (2009). Creating Television. Conversations with the People Behind 50 Years of American TV. New York: Routledge.

Landau, N. (2014). The TV Showrunner’s Roadmap. Burlington: Focal Press.

Levine, E. (2001). Toward a Paradigm for Media Production Research: Behind the Scenes at General Hospital. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 18(1), 66-82.

Littleton, C. (2013). TV on Strike. Why Hollywood went to war over the Internet. New York: Syracuse University Press.

Maier, E. R. & Branzei, O. (2014). “On time and on budget”: Harnessing Creativity in Large Scale Projects. International Journal of Project Management, 32(7), 1123-1133.

Meyers, L. (2010). Inside the TV Writer’s Room. Practical Advice for Succeeding in Television. New York: Syracuse University Press.

Mittell, J. (2015). Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: New York University Press.

Navar-Gill, A. (2018). From Strategic Retweets to Group Hangs: Writers’ Room Twitter Accounts and the Productive Ecosystem of TV Social Media Fans. Television & New Media, 19(5), 415-430.

Newcomb, H. & Alley, R. S. (1983). The Producer’s Medium. Conversations with Creators of American TV. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Newman, M. Z. & Levine, E. (2012). Legitimating Television: Media Convergence and Cultural Status. New York: Routledge.

Patton, M. Q. (1988). How to Use Qualitative Methods in Evaluation (2nd ed.). Michigan: SAGE.

Perren, A. (2011). In Conversation: Creativity in the Contemporary Cable Industry. Cinema Journal, 50(2), 132-138.

Phalen, P. F. (2018). Writing of Hollywood. New York: Routledge.

Press, J. (2018). Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television. New York: ATRIA Books.

Steiner, T. (2015). Steering the Author Discourse: The Construction of Authorship in Quality TV, and the Case of Game of Thrones. International Journal of TV Serial Narratives, 1(2), 181-192. Retrieved from

Thompson, R. J. (1996). Television’s Second Golden Age: From Hill Street Blues to E.R. New York: Syracuse University Press.

Venis, L. (Ed.) (2013). Inside the Room. Writing Television with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. New York: Penguin Group.

Wild, D. (1999). The Showrunners. A Season Inside the Billion-Dollar, Death-Derying, Madcap World of Television’s Real Starts. New York: Quill.

Wirth, J. & Melvoin, J. (2004). Writing for Episodic TV. From Freelance to Showrunner. Los Angeles: Writers Guild of America.


Search GoogleScholar


Article Details