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Who’s Running the Show?

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On Set: Community
Showrunner Dan Harmon.  

THE SHOW I WISH I’D CREATED

The Wire
Mike Schur
Shakespeare is the greatest playwright in the English language because every character was three-dimensional. On TV, that was most true of The Wire, which juggled hundreds of characters expertly. And you knew all of them!

This Old House
Kurt Sutter
Not that I’m not creating something, but what we do is very heady, and there’s something satisfying and tangible about a guy with a hammer who, at the end of the show, is looking at something he built.

The Simpsons
Robert Cartlock
More than 400 episodes, some perfect. And think of the back end: the toy sales!

The Deadliest Catch
Craig Thomas
Proves you can take the monotonous act of catching 80,000 identical crabs and turn it into riveting TV. Side note: Watching the exhausted captains guzzling coffee and chain-smoking, terrified they’ll miss their deadline and let everyone down? Closest thing to showrunning I’ve seen depicted on TV.

Breaking Bad
Robert King
The inevitability to the moral slide of the lead character is extraordinary. Even Tony Soprano had to feel he was better than those he killed. Breaking Bad doesn’t have that moral superiority.

Saturday Night Live
Carter Bays
Steady employment for decades, huge cultural impact, and you get to live in New York!

The Twilight Zone
Vince Gilligan
Rod Serling was the first showrunner whose name the country at large actually knew.

The Sopranos
Jason Katims
But I would never have been the guy to make that show.

Lost
Graham Yost
The way they brought in a character and devoted a whole episode to his or her backstory. There’s never been anything like it—other than Gilligan’s Island.


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