How Many Women Directors in 70 Years of American TV?

101One way or the other, boys, you gotta hire

at least one woman director.  It’s the law!”

Edited by Maria Giese

HOW MANY EPISODES IN 70 YEARS OF AMERICAN TELEVISION WERE DIRECTED BY WOMEN?

On June 2, 2013, the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) announced their picks of the 101 Best Written TV Series, “…honoring seven decades of outstanding television programming and the writers who brought it all to life. The list was determined through online voting by WGAW and WGAE members.”(www.deadline.com).

We women directors here at “WOMEN DIRECTORS: NAVIGATING THE BOYS’ CLUB” had a little extra time on our hands last week, so we decided to count, show-by-show, episode-by-episode…

This is what we learned: out of 9,274 episodes (not including those for which we have insufficient data), just 603 episodes were directed by women.  That’s 6.5%!

So, based on the WGA list, how many episodes of each show were directed by women in 70 years of American television?

Hold on to your hats!

1. The Sopranos – HBO – Created by David Chase (86 episodes, 1 episode directed by a woman).

2. Seinfeld – NBC – Created by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld (180 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

3. The Twilight Zone (1959) – CBS – Season One writers: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Robert Presnell, Jr., Rod Serling (158 episodes, 1 episode directed by women).

4. All in the Family – CBS – Developed for Television by Norman Lear, Based on Till Death Do Us Part, Created by Johnny Speight (201 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

5. M*A*S*H – CBS – Developed for Television by Larry Gelbart (256 episodes, 5 episodes directed by women).

6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show – CBS – Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns (168 episodes, 6 episodes directed by women).

7. Mad Men – AMC – Created by Matthew Weiner (76 episodes, 16 episodes directed by women).

8. Cheers – NBC – Created by Glen Charles & Les Charles and James Burrows (275 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

9. The Wire – HBO – Created by David Simon (60 episodes, 9 episodes directed by women).

10. The West Wing – NBC – Created by Aaron Sorkin (154 episodes, 24 episodes directed by women).

11. The Simpsons – FOX – Created by Matt Groening, Developed by James L. Brooks and Matt Groening and Sam Simon (530 episodes, 35 episodes directed by women).

12. I Love Lucy – CBS – “Pilot,” Written by Jess Oppenheimer & Madelyn Pugh & Bob Carroll, Jr. (181 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

13. Breaking Bad – AMC – Created by Vince Gilligan (62 episodes, 16 episodes directed by women).

14. The Dick Van Dyke Show – CBS – Created by Carl Reiner (158 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

15. Hill Street Blues – NBC – Created by Michael Kozoll and Steven Bochco (146 episodes, 9 episodes directed by women).

16. Arrested Development – FOX – Created by Mitchell Hurwitz (68 episodes, 7 episodes directed by women).

17. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – COMEDY CENTRAL – Created by Madeleine Smithberg, Lizz Winstead; Season One – Head Writer: Chris Kreski; Writers: Jim Earl, Daniel J. Goor, Charles Grandy, J.R. Havlan, Tom Johnson, Kent Jones, Paul Mercurio, Guy Nicolucci, Steve Rosenfield, Jon Stewart (Insufficient data).

18. Six Feet Under – HBO – Created by Alan Ball (63 episodes, 9 episodes directed by women).

19. Taxi – ABC – Created by James L. Brooks and Stan Daniels and David Davis and Ed Weinberger (113 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

20. The Larry Sanders Show – HBO – Created by Garry Shandling & Dennis Klein (Insufficient data).

21. 30 Rock – NBC – Created by Tina Fey (138 episodes, 41 episodes directed by women).

22. Friday Night Lights – NBC – Developed for Television by Peter Berg, Inspired by the Book by H.G. Bissinger (76 episodes, 7 episodes directed by women).

23. Frasier – NBC – Created by David Angell & Peter Casey & David Lee, Based on the Character “Frasier Crane” Created by Glen Charles & Les Charles (264 episodes, 35 episodes directed by women).

24. Friends – NBC – Created by Marta Kauffman & David Crane (236 episodes, 18 episodes directed by women).

25. Saturday Night Live – NBC – Season One: Writing Supervised by Walter Kempley, Harry Shearer; Written by: Ann Beatts, Chevy Chase, Tom Davis, Al Franken, Rosie Michaels, Garrett Morris, Michael O’Donoghue, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller, Alan Zweibel (Insufficient data).

26. The X-Files – FOX – Created by Chris Carter (182 episodes, 2 episodes directed by women).

27. Lost – ABC – Created by Jeffrey Lieber and J.J. Abrams & Damon Lindelof (121 episodes, 4 episodes directed by women).

28. ER – NBC – Created Michael Crichton (331 episodes, 55 episodes directed by women).

29. The Cosby Show – NBC – Created by Ed Weinberger & Michael Leeson and William Cosby, Jr., Ed.D. (201 episodes, 10 episodes directed by women).

30. Curb Your Enthusiasm – HBO – Created by Larry David (80 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

31. The Honeymooners – CBS – Season One writers: Herbert Finn, Marvin Marx, A.J. Russell, Leonard Stern, Walter Stone, Sydney Zelinka (Insufficient Data).

32. Deadwood – HBO – Created by David Milch (36 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

33. Star Trek – NBC – Created by Gene Roddenberry (79 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

34. Modern Family – ABC – Created by Steven Levitan & Christopher Lloyd (96 episodes, 9 episodes directed by women).

35. Twin Peaks – ABC – “Pilot,” Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch (30 episodes, 5 episodes directed by women).

36. NYPD Blue – ABC – created by David Milch & Steven Bochco (263 episodes, 30 episodes directed by women).

37. The Carol Burnett Show – CBS – Season One: Written by Bill Angelos, Stan Burns, Don Hinkley, Buz Kohan, Mike Marmer, Gail Parent, Kenny Solms, Saul Turtletaub; Writing Supervised by Arnie Rosen (Insufficient data).

38. Battlestar Galactica (2005) – SYFY – Developed by Ronald D. Moore, Based on the Series Battlestar Galactica Created by Glen A. Larson (75 episodes, 2 episodes directed by women).

39.  Sex & the City – HBO – Created by Darren Star, Based on the Book by Candace Bushnell (94 episodes, 21 episodes directed by women).

40. Game of Thrones – HBO – Created by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, Based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin (30 episodes, 2 episodes directed by women).

41. The Bob Newhart Show – CBS – Created by David Davis and Lorenzo Music (142 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

41. Your Show of Shows – NBC – Season One: Written by Mel Tolkin, Lucille Kallen, Max Liebman (Insufficient Data).

43. Downton Abbey *TIE – PBS – Created by Julian Fellowes (24 episodes, 2 episodes directed by women).

43. Law & Order – NBC – Created by Dick Wolf (456 episodes, 32 episodes directed by women).

43. thirtysomething  – ABC – Created by Marshall Herskovitz & Edward Zwick (First 3 seasons*: 62 episodes, 6 episodes directed by women). *incomplete data.

46. Homicide: Life on the Street – NBC – Created by Paul Attanasio, Based on the Book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon (122 episodes, 16 episodes directed by women).

46. St. Elsewhere – NBC – Created by Joshua Brand & John Falsey, Developed by Mark Tinker / John Masius (137 episodes, 11 episodes directed by women).

48. Homeland – SHOWTIME – Developed by Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa, Based on the Original Israeli Series Prisoners of War by Gideon Raff (24 episodes, 1 episodes directed by women).

49. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – WB – Created by Joss Whedon (144 episodes, 4 episodes directed by women).

50. The Colbert Report – COMEDY CENTRAL – Season One writers: Stephen Colbert, Rich Dahm, Eric Drysdale, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Laura Krafft, Allison Silverman (Insufficient Data).

50. The Good Wife – CBS – Created by Robert King & Michelle King (90 episodes, 22 episodes directed by women).

50. The Office (UK) – BBC – Created by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant (UK version, insufficient data).

53. Northern Exposure – CBS – Created by Joshua Brand & John Falsey (110 episodes, 4 episodes directed by women).

54. The Wonder Years – ABC – Created by Neal Marlens & Carol Black (115 episodes, 6 episodes directed by women).

55. L.A. Law – NBC – Created by Steven Bochco & Terry Louise Fisher (172 episodes, 39 episodes directed by women).

56. Sesame Street – PBS – Created by Joan Ganz Cooney (insufficient data).

57. Columbo – NBC – Created by Richard Levinson & William Link (69 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

58. Fawlty Towers  – BBC – Written by John Cleese & Connie Booth (insufficient data).

58. The Rockford Files  – NBC – Created by Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell (111 episodes, 16 episodes directed by women).

60. Freaks and Geeks  – NBC – Created by Paul Feig (18 episodes, 2 episodes directed by women).

60. Moonlighting – ABC – Created by Glenn Gordon Caron (66 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

62. Roots – ABC – Written by William Blinn, M. Charles Cohen, Ernest Kinoy, James Lee; Based on the Book by Alex Haley (insufficient data).

63. Everybody Loves Raymond  – CBS – Created by Philip Rosenthal (210 episodes, 3 episodes directed by women).

63. South Park – COMEDY CENTRAL  – Created by Matt Stone & Trey Parker (237 episodes, one episode directed by women).

65. Playhouse 90 – CBS – Season One writers: Edna Anhalt, Edmund Beloin, Harold Jack Bloom, Marc Brandel, George Bruce, James P. Cavanagh, Whitfiled Cook, Helen Doss, Scott Fitzgerald, Devery Freeman, Frank D. Gilroy, Helen Howe, Speed Lamkin, Ernest Lehman, Herbert Little, Jr., Don Mankiewicz, Elick Moll, Paul Monash, Dean Reisner, Norman Retchin, Selma Robinson, William Sackheim, Rod Serling, Leonard Spigelgass, Leslie Stevens, Brandon Thomas, David Victor, Charles M. Warren, Hagar Wilde, Cornell Woolrich (insufficient data).

66. Dexter  – SHOWTIME – Developed for Television by James Manos, Jr., Based on the Novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (84 episodes, 1 episode directed by women).

66. The Office (US) – NBC – Created by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant, Developed by Greg Daniels, Based on the BBC Series The Office (201 episodes, 10 episodes directed by women).

68. My So-Called Life – ABC – Created by Winnie Holzman (19 episodes, 3 episodes directed by women).

69. The Golden Girls – NBC – Created by Susan Harris (173 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

70. The Andy Griffith Show – CBS – Episode 1, “The New Housekeeper,” Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart (249 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

71. 24  – FOX – Created by Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran (192 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

71. Roseanne – ABC – Created by Matt Williams, Based on a Character Created by Roseanne Barr (221 episodes, 23 episodes directed by women).

71. The Shield  – FX – Created by Shawn Ryan (88 episodes, 6 episodes directed by women).

74. House  – FOX – Created by David Shore (177 episodes, 14 episodes directed by women).

74. Murphy Brown – CBS – Created by Diane English (insufficient data).

76. Barney Miller – ABC – Created by Danny Arnold & Theodore J. Flicker (insufficient data).

76. I, Claudius  – PBS – Written by Robert Graves and Jack Pulman (13 episodes, insufficient data).

78. The Odd Couple – ABC – Episode 1, “The Fight of the Felix,” Written by Peggy Elliott & Ed Scharlach (114 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

79. Alfred Hitchcock Presents – CBS – Season One writers – Gwen Bagni, Samuel Blas, Robert Blees, Ray Bradbury, Richard Carr, James Cavanagh, Eustace Cockrell, Francis Cockrell, Marian Cockrell, John Collier, Robert C. Dennis, Mel Dinelli, Stanley Ellin, Fred Freiberger, Irwin Gielgud, Gina Kaus, Terence Maples, Richard Pedicini, Louis Pollock, Joseph Ruscoll, A.J. Russell, Stirling Silliphant, Andrew Solt, Harold Swanton, Victor Wolfson, Cornell Woolrich (Zero episodes directed by women).

79. Monty Python’s Flying Circus – BBC – Conceived and Written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Neil Innes, Terry Jones, Michael Palin (insufficient data).

79. Star Trek: The Next Generation  – SYN – Created by Gene Roddenberry (178 episodes, 7 episodes directed by women).

79. Upstairs, Downstairs – PBS – Created by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins (68 episodes, 3 episodes directed by women).

83. Get Smart – NBC – “Pilot,” Written by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry (138 episodes, 2 episodes directed by women).

84. The Defenders  – CBS – Created by Reginald Rose (18 episodes, 3 episodes directed by women).

84. Gunsmoke – CBS – Episode 1, “Matt Gets It,” Written by Charles Marquis Warren & John Meston (635 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

86. Justified – FX –  Developed for Television by Graham Yost, Based on the Short Story “Fire in the Hole” by Elmore Leonard (52 episodes, 3 episodes directed by women).

87. Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) – CBS – Created by Nat Hiken (insufficient data).

88. Band of Brothers – HBO – Written by Erik Bork, E. Max Frye, Tom Hanks, Erik Jendresen, Bruce C. McKenna, John Orloff, Graham Yost; Based on the Book by Stephan E. Ambrose (10 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

89. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In – NBC – Season One: Written by Chris Beard, Phil Hahn, John Hanrahan, Coslough Johnson, Paul Keyes, Marc London, Allan Manings, David Panich, Hugh Wedlock, Digby Wolfe  (Insufficient data).

90. The Prisoner – CBS – Premiere Episode: Written by George Markstein and David Tomblin  (Insufficient data).

91. Absolutely Fabulous (UK) – BBC – Episode 1, “Fashion,” Written by Jennifer Saunders, Based on an Original Idea by Jennifer Saunders & Dawn French  (Insufficient data).

The Muppet Show – SYN – Season One: Written by Jack Burns, Jim Henson, Jerry Juhl, Marc London  (Insufficient data).

93. Boardwalk Empire – HBO – Created by Terence Winter, Based on the Book Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson  (36 episodes, 2 episodes directed by women).

94. Will & Grace – NBC – Created by David Kohan & Max Mutchnick  (184 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

95. Family Ties – NBC – Created by Gary David Goldberg  (168 episodes, 12 episodes directed by women).

96. Lonesome Dove – CBS – Teleplay by Bill Wittliff, Based on the Novel Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry  insufficient data).

96. Soap – ABC – Created by Susan Harris  (Insufficient data).

98. The Fugitive – ABC – Episode 1, “Where the Action Is,” Written by Harry Kronman  (120 episodes, 3 episodes directed by women).

98. Late Night with David Letterman *TIE – NBC – Season One: Writing Supervised by Merrill Markoe, Writers: Andy Breckman, Tom Gammill, David Letterman, Richard Morris, Gerard Mulligan, Max Pross, Karl Tiedemann, Steve Winer  (Insufficient data).

98. Louie – FX -Season One: Written and Directed by Louis C.K. (39 episodes, Zero episodes directed by women).

101. Oz – HBO – Created by Tom Fontana  (56 episodes, 10 episodes directed by women).

For more information on the “WGA’s 101 Best Written TV Series List” visit: http://www.wga.org/101tv.html or www.wgaeast.org/tv101.”

Note: Our calculations are based on our own analyses made from Wikipedia breakdowns of episodic TV shows.  It is a work-in-progress. Please report errors or omissions.

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