This time last week I had just wrapped IBG Inc's final Conversation Series of 2011-- one with Allison Mack and Kelly Souders that ended up being far less about Smallville fandom and much more about what it's like to be women rising to success in the entertainment industry. It was inspiring in so many ways, and completely worthy of an "Inspirational Women" column, if only I had thought ahead and transcribed full quotes... Since I didn't, I am using their inspirational afternoon as the basis for my next list, one slightly adapted from a proposal a friend and fellow member of IBG recommended: "Favorite Female TV Writers."
Liz Tigelaar. She created Life Unexpected, drafting one of the most completely lovable and unique couples of all time, and now she is working on Once Upon A Time, penning the "what you never knew" tale of one of the most classic and lovable couples of all time. And in both instances she keeps them down-to-Earth, heart-warming, swoon-worthy, and tear-jerking. She makes me cry about fake people!
Darlene Hunt. I have never known another writer to make me blubber like a baby other than Hunt. With The Big C, she created a courageous character and a somewhat controversial approach to a cancer diagnosis, which made it the most emotional rollercoaster I ever went on. Week to week I felt like Cathy got to do all the things I wanted to do and only hoped Hunt had the balls to not just write about but actually carry out as well. But any time I got too comfortable, she'd sucker-punch me and a whole new flood of emotions would take over. The element of surprise may be gone now but we know she's good for making us feel.
Amy Poehler. Her sketch characters are absolutely genius, and I am in awe of how she commits to them. They never feel like "just" sketch elements. Kaitlin could have been super annoying, and even Leslie Knope could have been kind of caricature-y, and yet they are two of the most beloved, modern classic characters to grace our screens. There's something really beautiful in her twisted sense of humor.
Hilary Winston. She wrote some of my favorite episodes of Community and a pretty awesome one of Happy Endings (considering she only has one of that latter show under her belt, I'd say things are looking really positive for this up-and-comer). Those shows possess the kind of funny I wish I could be.
Tina Fey. What can I say? I'm mostly a comedy girl. It's a skill I don't possess that I am deeply, deeply envious of. Fey taught all us awkward, somewhat old-soul-before-our-time young women that it was okay to be that way. No, she made it acceptable and almost cool to be that way. Declaring "I'm a Liz Lemon" was a way to show you could be smart, funny, successful-- you could have things on your terms. Take that, Carrie Bradshaw! Plus, through all her insane scheduling in the world of TV, she managed to write a memoir that showed off a level of care and attentiveness that puts her at the top of any writer's list, not just TV.
Jennifer Salt. I'll admit that I didn't know this actress and former Nip/Tuck writer at all until an episode of American Horror Story. I'll admit that if the episode hadn't have been so drastically different from the first two-- and if it hadn't made intelligent sense out of what was previously just a schlocky mess-- I never would have even looked up who wrote it in the first place. She single-handedly turned the show into what I always wanted it to be. But isn't that just what makes her writing that much more special and memorable? She made me a fan with one piece of writing, and I can't wait to see what she's working on next.
Amy Sherman-Palladino. At a time when I was running from family, she showed me a character that did the same and still made it out okay. Not entirely unscathed, but I already knew that, too, was my fate. She created my first television soulmate and deserves the most credit for that, but she also created a mother-daughter relationship that gave me hope, and showed me a small town lifestyle that made me want to be a big fish in a little pond for the rest of my life. Plus, she made it okay to speak as fast as I do.
Mindy Kaling. "The Dundies" is hands-down my favorite episode of The Office ever. British or American versions. Kaling is responsible for it. Enough said.
Melissa Rosenberg. I like to think it is because of influences like her that allowed Showtime's version of Dexter to be more sympathetic, well-rounded, and yes, human, than the source material novels. Even if she was responsible for killing Rita.
Julie Plec. Do you know anyone else who has mastered the art of the every-act cliff-hanger? No? Neither do I. She took what was just young adult fodder and went darker, deeper, metaphoric and managed to convert this genre skeptic.