This, right on the heels of the many reports on the lack of diversity in writer's rooms currently. It's funny that there hasn't been the comment made on the extensively large amount of female producers and studio executives (those numbers, conversely, have gone up).
That said, the ongoing nature that the number of positions have been - for writers - going down. The same can be said for directors. And the amount of shows that mark the only-white-dude directors in the last year still peaks out at nine (though, of course, the amount that didn't hire many is still high, with the precentage of directors at 77% there):
9 SHOWS HIRED NO WOMEN AND NO MINORITY DIRECTORS:
Title (Production Company) – Percentage of Episodes by Women or Minority Directors:
· Bored to Death (HBO) – 0%
· Burn Notice (TVM Productions/Fox) – 0%
· Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) – 0%
· Fringe (Warner Bros.) – 0%
· iCarly (Uptown Productions/MTV/Viacom) – 0%
· Justified (Woodridge Productions/CPT Holdings/Sony) – 0%
· Leverage (Leverage Productions) – 0%
· Victorious (Uptown Productions/MTV/Viacom) – 0%
· Weeds (Weeds Productions) – 0%
What's most interesting is the utter breadth of shows in that 0% genre (iCarly one might expect more than, say, a Justified).
The annual list of shows that have female writers on them tops out at 15% for this year according to this study, and the percentages have only come down since the strike.
The ever-lovely Jane Espenson shared her thoughts in the article:
"I had certainly perceived the situation as getting better and better for women -- I am rarely the only woman in the writers room anymore, and I encounter more women at the higher levels," Espenson recently told AOL TV's Maureen Ryan. "I remember what it was like 20 years ago, and this is not that."
Which is yet another way of saying "oh hey, at least it isn't as bad as back then" - which, while valid, doesn't really say much. The issue is, of course, that no one wants to try someone out in a room that hasn't been tested (new writers/directors - whatever creed, fall into this category) - which is great for those select few working right now, but is, as ever, a terrible long term plan.
As well, it's not to say that there aren't shows that break this sudden downturn in figures - there are more female showrunners and creators with shows than say - as Espenson pointed out - twenty years ago.
It's just that there are definite figures to say that it's been getting to that not-as-easy-to-break-in stage. This isn't really news - every industry is facing downturns and more. What's surprising is just how quickly the percentages plummeted.
Which may be why the web series answer seems to be cropping up again and again - with newer directors and writers underemployed, what had been an actors medium seems to be shifting again and again (as seen in the original post on female writer's not getting in the creative seat) - as an answer to just about everyone.
From Jane Espenson with Husbands to Felicia Day's The Guild - there's also the Canadian series like Ruby Skye PI or Out With Dad (Tights And Fights, Cancel Proof, or Pretty in Geek) - that can keep going. That said, it does seem to offer something, even if it's not always a fully sponsored endeavour - it's got people doing them from working writer/producers down to the ground level. Which kind of means that opportunity is going to be you knocking. Yourself. Sometimes.