Only One of This Season’s Broadcast Drama Pilots Will Employ a Female Director

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Liz Friedlander. Photo: Image Group LA/ABC

Despite several well-publicized studies on the alarmingly low number of women working behind the scenes in Hollywood, and the plenitude of female talent available, the movie and TV industry hasn’t learned its lesson. According to Deadline, only one of the 41 broadcast drama pilots this season — ABC’s Las Reinas — will be directed by a woman, Liz Friedlander. That’s a decline from the last few years: In 2015, four women directed drama pilots; in 2016, two did. On the comedy side, only five pilots are set to be directed by female directors this year, down from nine last year. According to Deadline’s report, studios made an effort to “think outside of the white male box,” but didn’t get very far, mostly because studios tend to rely on big-name directors, and female directors aren’t seen to have enough cachet, in part, because they’re consistently denied the chance to prove themselves. Shows typically work through several directors over the course of the season — meaning that networks could course correct and hire more women in the future — but the director of a pilot benefits from the chance to get royalties, and gets to set the tone of the series. So this season, expect the tone of TV to be, in a word, male.

Only One Broadcast Drama Pilot to Employ a Female Director