Running a TV show comes with plenty of challenges — especially when it’s your first time doing it on a freshman show.
Showrunners Jack Orman (NBC’s “Shades of Blue”), Jessica Goldberg (Hulu’s “The Path”), Alan Yang (Netflix’s “Master of None”) and Justin Spitzer (NBC’s “Superstore”) participated in a panel on Friday morning at NBC’s Summer Press Day in Thousand Oaks, Calif., to share what they’ve learned from running a television series in its first season.
The foursome (who are all showrunners on Universal TV projects) said that balancing many roles is the toughest task. All agreed the challenges make their day-to-day extremely rewarding, though.
“You have to balance keeping an overall strategic vision and also paying attention to a lot of details,” Orman said, being the only panelist to have been a showrunner previously. “Essentially, you’re a storyteller and you have to have everyone on your team telling that story… It’s the multi-tasking, really, and finding a way to pace yourself through that multi-tasking, and checking yourself and making sure you’re telling the story you want to tell.”
Goldberg agreed with Orman’s statement, saying that she finds her leadership role to be an emotional position — more so than she ever had anticipated.
“I have a 9-year-old daughter and that’s a lot of emotional bait, and then having all these other people you feel like being mama to, it’s much more emotional that I expected, making sure that people are happy and invested in the material,” she said. “It’s sort of like raising a child. That level of emotional investment surprised me.”
Spitzer — who said that Season 2 of his America Ferrera comedy will continue to incorporate social commentary — explained that he’s still learning how to trust himself with so much responsibility.
“As a showrunner, you’re the last and certainly the most influential decision in every decision that gets made,” he said. “You need to know when to change your mind.”
Yang, who spent seven years on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” under showrunner Mike Schur, admitted that juggling so many different roles is tough.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” he said, noting that he is in constant discussions with everyone from execs to talent to crew. “In some ways one of the hardest parts is just the decision fatigue … You’re bombarded by emails, and at a point, you get a little tired — not complaining, it’s the best job!”