TV writers are the unsung heroes of Hollywood. Typically, writers are discussed by the masses for one of two reasons. First, they are criticized for not being inclusive or sticking to the original story, like with novel or comic book adaptations. Or they are praised for their ability to bring realism to fictional stories, whether literary adapted or not. The latter is more often the case with studios letting writers take the blame for any poorly executed story. Writers are typically under pressure to create a storyline that will be marketable to audiences of the network or studio. A TV show, in particular, can be created years before being picked up and produced by a network.
It’s undeniable that writers bring remarkable creativity to TV shows and film. As is common in Hollywood, actors will vacillate between the role of writer, director, and producer, only to receive deserved praise for their versatile talents. Yet, Hollywood relies on writers as much as they rely on others behind the cameras. When writers remain in the writers room, audiences can often forget that their favorite shows and movies require a team of people bouncing ideas off one another. Here’s a spotlight on five TV writers of the shows you love (and other project of theirs you can tune in to).
5 Criminal Minds — Kimberly A. Harrison
Over 15 seasons, the members of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit encountered some of the scariest serial killers imaginable. Kimberley A. Harrison started writing on the procedural crime show Criminal Minds during season 5, and, by season 7, was the executive story editor. She wrote and produced for the show for over a decade, remaining as a producer for other procedural crime shows like Law and Order: Organized Crime and Deputy. Harrison recalls her career in Hollywood with Black Film: “Well, I started off my career in procedurals and then went over to start on Fox, which taught me a lot about character. I thought, you know, after leaving’star‘I really want to find a show that I get the best of both worlds which is’Deputy,’ which is a character-driven, crime drama. I’m able to marry those two worlds together here.” Wherever Harrison goes, she’s carrying a handful of procedurals and character-driven show, bringing compelling stories to life.
4 Ms. Marvel — Aisha Bhoori
Much of the realism in the Disney+ series Ms. marvel is due to writers like Aisha Bhoori. In an interview with Voyage LA, she said, “Stories have always had a secret place in my life. Growing up in an immigrant household, there were a lot of rules that restricted what I could and couldn’t do, limiting my reality as well”. This is all too real for Kamala Khan, played by Iman Vellani, who wants to be accepted by her peers. Yet, she faces the juxtaposition of her parent’s traditions against her desires to be a normal American teenager. Her initial trial is attending Avenger Con only for her parents to deny her going unless they follow their rules. With Kamala’s journey just beginning, let’s hope we return to the writers room.
3 Veep — Armando Iannucci
Armando Iannucci created Veep, an HBO series that follows the story of the first woman Vice President named Selina Meyer. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Vice President Meyer as she tries her best not to get caught up in the bureaucracy of her position, only to have the risks she takes backfire. When Iannucci left the show, he went on to direct The Personal History of David Copperfield. In an interview with CBC, he says of Copperfield, “He was ambitious, but in the right way. He wanted to find as large a platform as possible to talk about what he wanted to discuss”. Writing and directing shows and films featuring risk-takers make Iannucci’s projects exciting.
2 Insecure — Grace Edwards
Writer, actress, and producer Grace Edwards is a champion comedy writer. Her career as a producer and writer for shows like Insecure allowed her to stretch her talents magnificently. The HBO show had a cultural impact beyond comedy as well. She says of how she wrote Molly and Issa in the final season to Huffington Post, ” It’s okay to sometimes let your characters make unpopular choices because that’s real. That’s reality and that’s life. That’s what makes something more compelling in a way because you can see yourself in the mistakes that you’ve made in them. Sometimes when you’re getting mad at a character, you’re getting mad because you’ve done that yourself.” Not surprisingly, she took her writing talents to Hulu for doll face, another show focusing on the messiness of women’s friendships. Edwards’ ability to pick apart the complexity of friendships we all endure seals her future as a triple threat.
1 Friends — Marta Kauffman
Quite possibly the most well-known writer in Hollywood due to her show friends, Marta Kauffman has the Midas touch where sitcoms are concerned. Despite the success of the show, Kauffman remains surprised by people discovering the show. In an interview with Radio Times, Kauffman revealed that the success of friends has reached a whole new generation thanks to Netflix. fans of friends are all too familiar with the comedic genius of Kauffman, so it’s not surprising she also created and wrote the longest-running Netflix series Grace and Frankie. With the massive success of Grace and Frankie, Kauffman admits to The Wrap, “It was not a creative decision to end it… We were hoping to do seven seasons, we made it to seven seasons – which is miraculous in this world”. Should Kauffman return to the writers room, the show is sure to stand out among other shows.