Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Film and Television Production (PROD)

First Advisor

Charles Howard


In light of the rise in video-on-demand (VOD) services, television has exploded in popularity on an international scale, eclipsing its predecessor of movies. This phenomenon has been further heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic as audiences flocked to their television screens during Stay-At-Home orders. Specifically, Netflix received 15 million more subscribers since mid- March, 2.3 million more Americans subscribed to Netflix since March, and broadcast television viewing has jumped by 8.3 million viewers (Fitzgerald). With the demand for high-quality entertainment, the role of the television creator/showrunner has become increasingly important, as this individual or pair of individuals is tasked with maintaining the vision of a television series. In turn, this paper will explore the role of the showrunner through two case studies: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator/showrunner of Fleabag, and Prentice Penny, showrunner of Insecure. Particularly, it will examine this role during the development, pre-production, production, and post-production stages through various interviews with professionals in these fields. It will also discuss the different challenges and tasks that these showrunners face, especially as Waller-Bridge and Penny are both the heads of 30-minute, comedic, socially conscious, and women-driven series. In turn, this research may shed light on shifting industry practices, what showrunning may look like post-COVID-19, and how showrunners can continue to bring awareness to various social justice issues through innovative storytelling methods.