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Who’s Running the Show?

In the age of creator as star, plenty of people know exactly who.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, far left, on set in New Mexico, with crew, extras, and star Giancarlo Esposito, seated, center.  


Illustrations by Mr. Bingo  

Kurt Sutter
Master of the anti-hero and the grimy, violent, Machiavellian evil that (primarily) men do—as evidenced by his FX biker drama Sons of Anarchy.
Previous job: The Shield (writer).
(Read the full interview).

Robert Carlock
With fellow master jokester Tina Fey, runs the most hard-core meta comedy on TV, NBC’s 30 Rock.
Previous jobs: Joey (exec producer), Friends (producer), SNL (writer).
(Read the full interview).

Michelle and Robert King
With network TV’s most provocative drama, CBS’s The Good Wife, the Kings have stealthily enriched the common procedural with deep thoughts on corruption, race, and marriage.
(Read the full interview).

Mike Schur
Together with Greg Daniels, has managed to humanize and sweeten the sitcom mockumentary by populating it with beloved eccentrics, first with NBC’s The Office, then Parks and Recreation.
Previous jobs: The Comeback (writer), SNL (writer).
(Read the full interview).

Vince Gilligan
The X-Filesquirkiest, most earthbound writer has evolved into TV’s “out there” truth-teller with his disturbing and dangerously funny vision of desperate, middle-class America, AMC’s Breaking Bad.
(Read the full interview).

Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel
Co–executive producers of the proudly silly, mean-yet-sweet, weirdly addictive (must be all the drinking!) post-Friends sitcom Cougar Town (ABC).
Previous jobs: Scrubs (Lawrence, creator; Biegel, producer), Spin City (Lawrence, co-creator).
(Read the full interview).

Dan Harmon
The sitcom savant has turned Community (NBC) into a launching pad for ingenious parodies of everything from comedy clichés to war movies—without ever sacrificing story or character.
(Read the full interview).

Shonda Rhimes
Her Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice (both ABC) have pushed the nighttime soap to juicy, melodramatic, and stylistically over-the-top heights.
(Read the full interview).

Graham Yost
Excels at smart, droll, character-driven dramas like his charmingly gritty FX series Justified.
Previous job: Boomtown (creator).
(Read the full interview).

Jason Katims
His family drama, NBC’s Parenthood, is as irresistibly flawed and moving as its central characters.
Previous jobs: Friday Night Lights (exec producer), Roswell (exec producer), Relativity (creator).
(Read the full interview).

Craig Thomas and Carter Bays
With CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, the duo has successfully merged unabashed romanticism and genuine emotions with an extremely hard-to-pull-off high-concept premise (it’s the Lost of comedies!).
Previous job: The Late Show With David Letterman (writers).
(Read the full interview).